Art Photography

Fred Berg

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unless the content is related to it

This is the point about size: some subjects call for a large
Size might matter but, unless the content is related to it, size should not matter. (imo)
If size matters, then why not resolution or quality of ink, frame or paper?
These are generally external to the content and shouldn't matter.

Or perhaps a 24 x 30 'Dogs Playing Poker' archivaly printed and matted in a solid gold Louis XV frame is actually art and not kitsch?

I should think it rather more likely to be a straw man.

I didn't say that the resolution, quality of ink, frame or paper aren't important choices, they are: just as the choices between fine or loose brushwork, wood or canvas, oil or watercolors, etc., also matter. Your suggestion that these don't matter because they are external to the content is misguided, imo. You seem to me to have latched on to the notion that only the core intellectual idea is important when considering a work of art; but a concept must be created, an idea must take on a physical form, and the choices made here are all part of the finished work. Otherwise I would compare your argument to the old chestnut that only what comes out of the camera can be considered photography and no post processing is acceptable. But aren't you the one who is always advocating that it is only the finished article that counts and that how one gets to this is unimportant? Correct me if I am wrong.

The relationship between content or subject matter and size is a key factor as you now suggest. Printing on a large scale just for the sake of it, perhaps in an attempt to add weight to a photo, is bad practice certainly. There are times when big is called for, but, equally, small can be every bit as effective when employed to support an idea or create a mood. In an exhibition I would like to see one of Majeed's landscapes or a cityscape by Sleist printed large enough to fill my field of view from a few feet away so that the impression of being there is realised; on the other hand, one of your own scenes of life from Asia would be nicer presented in a small format, perhaps small enough that the viewer has to go right up to it to really appreciate it and share in its intimacy.

So we can agree in some way on size, or so it seems. However, ( and you knew this was coming, I suspect) the idea that a good photo must be self-evident and not need notes of explanation is nonsense as far as I'm concerned. Your use of the quote from the commercial photographer “The shittier a photograph gets, the more words are used to describe it because it can’t stand on its own. That describes most fine art photography these days. There’s more crap coming out of the art world than there is coming out of the commercial one.” is somewhat lame. There is no substance to this type of comparison since it is akin to considering the relative merits of apples and pears or chalk and cheese. Of course a commercial photographer must get the message across without the viewer having to think twice about it. That is their job; it is what they are being paid for and there is a product to sell. Art, though, often possesses subtlety and works with hidden messages and meaning that must be looked for and unlocked. Not uncommon is arts role in edification, enlightenment and education; viewers might well find themselves coming in contact with ideas, notions and concepts that are new to them or which in their every day lives they give little or no thought to. Here a little support and guidance from a curator or artist won't go amiss. Very often, it seems to me, restrictions are placed on art (and by association, photography) that nobody would dream of doing with mathematics, science or even philosophy. In these fields it is the norm, expected even, that things be explained at least to a certain degree before independent thought and analysis can commence.

Rarely do I include any preamble to my photos on TPF, however, I have occasionally been accused of attempting to add weight to my work through my choice of title. I mention this because it seems to be in keeping with your thoughts and arguments. This ignorance of the role of the titling a piece is lamentable but I don't rise to it. Coming back to the Louvre for a moment, should Eugène Delacroix have called his masterpiece "Woman With Bare Breasts Waving Flag"? maybe, since this is the ostensible main subject matter.

 

webestang64

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A few notes on size I have noticed over the years.

An old photo lab boss of mine once said....."Can't make it good, make it big!".......

Went to collage with a guy who would print 4x6 prints and matte/frame them in a 24x36 size.......I asked him why.....He said it makes for a more dramatic effect than a print that is 24x36......then another would print 30x40's saying that a small print shows no detail.
 

bribrius

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A few notes on size I have noticed over the years.

An old photo lab boss of mine once said....."Can't make it good, make it big!".......

Went to collage with a guy who would print 4x6 prints and matte/frame them in a 24x36 size.......I asked him why.....He said it makes for a more dramatic effect than a print that is 24x36......then another would print 30x40's saying that a small print shows no detail.
too complicated. i bought pre-matted frames. (they weren't cheap) various sizes. Now i can't decide what photos to print to put in what. what will people like? Hell, i dunno. Not to mentioned they might sell for less than it cost for the frames and printing...
Thinking of just using them in my house instead now. Nicer frames than i have in my own house. Going to have to re-read this thread when it is over. I think i can find some answers that might apply in here to me directly.
 
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I didn't say that the resolution, quality of ink, frame or paper aren't important choices, they are: just as the choices between fine or loose brushwork, wood or canvas, oil or watercolors, etc., also matter. Your suggestion that these don't matter because they are external to the content is misguided, imo. You seem to me to have latched on to the notion that only the core intellectual idea is important when considering a work of art; but a concept must be created, an idea must take on a physical form, and the choices made here are all part of the finished work. Otherwise I would compare your argument to the old chestnut that only what comes out of the camera can be considered photography and no post processing is acceptable. But aren't you the one who is always advocating that it is only the finished article that counts and that how one gets to this is unimportant? Correct me if I am wrong.

You are wrong.
In my mind, there are two issues here.
I think that all of the external factors should support the art and, at the same time, the external factors must not have so much importance that they overwhelm the art and end up contributing more to the impression than does the art.
Size, particularly, is dangerous in that we humans, without any specific knowledge, are impressed by size all out of proportion to its real contribution to the piece.

The idea that a good photo must be self-evident and not need notes of explanation is nonsense as far as I'm concerned. Your use of the quote from the commercial photographer “The shittier a photograph gets, the more words are used to describe it because it can’t stand on its own. That describes most fine art photography these days. There’s more crap coming out of the art world than there is coming out of the commercial one.” is somewhat lame. There is no substance to this type of comparison since it is akin to considering the relative merits of apples and pears or chalk and cheese. Of course a commercial photographer must get the message across without the viewer having to think twice about it. That is their job; it is what they are being paid for and there is a product to sell. Art, though, often possesses subtlety and works with hidden messages and meaning that must be looked for and unlocked. Not uncommon is arts role in edification, enlightenment and education; viewers might well find themselves coming in contact with ideas, notions and concepts that are new to them or which in their every day lives they give little or no thought to. Here a little support and guidance from a curator or artist won't go amiss. Very often, it seems to me, restrictions are placed on art (and by association, photography) that nobody would dream of doing with mathematics, science or even philosophy. In these fields it is the norm, expected even, that things be explained at least to a certain degree before independent thought and analysis can commence.

Rarely do I include any preamble to my photos on TPF, however, I have occasionally been accused of attempting to add weight to my work through my choice of title. I mention this because it seems to be in keeping with your thoughts and arguments. This ignorance of the role of the titling a piece is lamentable but I don't rise to it. Coming back to the Louvre for a moment, should Eugène Delacroix have called his masterpiece "Woman With Bare Breasts Waving Flag"? maybe, since this is the ostensible main subject matter.

You have confounded two separate issues.
Title or text - or any other supplements like frame, etc - are valuable when they describe or enhance the context of a work to enlightens the viewer to its significance. In this situation the title or text edicates the viewer and raises the viewer's understanding of the qualities embedded in the art. (If we saw a Rembrandt in a cheesy metal frame, it would hurt our understanding and appreciation while the quality of the art itself would be undiminished.) I can look at a painting and recognize it is damn fine but my appreciation is increased by knowing the context and the history. With history, context and expert understanding, the 'Liberty Leading the People' means more to me.

A title or text should supplement and increase the weight of a piece of art, not stand in lieu of it. Too often the title or text is used in an attempt to increase the significance of the art itself. In that case. the art does not embody the significance, has not the quality, but is merely a reference to a significant idea that is only supplied by the title or text. A pebble from the moon is just an undistinguished pebble and is only significant because we know the context and origin. We know no more about the pebble than the context.
 
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webestang64

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A few notes on size I have noticed over the years.

An old photo lab boss of mine once said....."Can't make it good, make it big!".......

Went to collage with a guy who would print 4x6 prints and matte/frame them in a 24x36 size.......I asked him why.....He said it makes for a more dramatic effect than a print that is 24x36......then another would print 30x40's saying that a small print shows no detail.
too complicated. i bought pre-matted frames. (they weren't cheap) various sizes. Now i can't decide what photos to print to put in what. what will people like? Hell, i dunno. Not to mentioned they might sell for less than it cost for the frames and printing...
Thinking of just using them in my house instead now. Nicer frames than i have in my own house. Going to have to re-read this thread when it is over. I think i can find some answers that might apply in here to me directly.

For me it's all about what I like, my photography is very personal and if someone likes a photo I have on display at home or a show then that's nice. I never try to print what I think others will like.
And for sizing, 99 out of 100 prints I do in the darkroom are on 11x14 fiber paper, I never go " WOW, I did a great job I need to print that big!" I just cut a white matte and put my BW's in a simple 16x20 black frame.
Color, well sometimes I go big but mostly I keep my color prints in the 12x18 to 20x30 range.
Pricing gets tricky, for my 16x20 framed BW's I normally just double the cost of frame/matte and then tack on what I think is a good solid price for my "art".
 

W.Y.Photo

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A lot to read. Some of it seems a bit condescending toward the "peasant" viewer of "art", but maybe I need to read it more carefully. ;)

With respect to image size, my extensive ;) 5 1/2 months experience printing my own work has shown me that a good photo will usually look better the larger it's printed, while a bad photo will fall apart the larger it it printed. Conversely, a poor photo can pass as better that it should when printed small. This is why the internet can be a rather poor means of evaluating images despite the convenience.

It really depends on how you want the viewer to see it. Think of printing macro images... You print them large and suddenly the magnification is enormously increased but if you choose to print small or too scale they can see it as if it were the size of the object. Considering all types of photography Proper sizing depends on how you want it seen or how it is best seen. Not on how good it is.

I didn't say that the resolution, quality of ink, frame or paper aren't important choices, they are: just as the choices between fine or loose brushwork, wood or canvas, oil or watercolors, etc., also matter. Your suggestion that these don't matter because they are external to the content is misguided, imo. You seem to me to have latched on to the notion that only the core intellectual idea is important when considering a work of art; but a concept must be created, an idea must take on a physical form, and the choices made here are all part of the finished work. Otherwise I would compare your argument to the old chestnut that only what comes out of the camera can be considered photography and no post processing is acceptable. But aren't you the one who is always advocating that it is only the finished article that counts and that how one gets to this is unimportant? Correct me if I am wrong.

You are wrong.
In my mind, there are two issues here.
I think that all of the external factors should support the art and, at the same time, the external factors must not have so much importance that they overwhelm the art and end up contributing more to the impression than does the art.
Size, particularly, is dangerous in that we humans, without any specific knowledge, are impressed by size all out of proportion to its real contribution to the piece.

The idea that a good photo must be self-evident and not need notes of explanation is nonsense as far as I'm concerned. Your use of the quote from the commercial photographer “The shittier a photograph gets, the more words are used to describe it because it can’t stand on its own. That describes most fine art photography these days. There’s more crap coming out of the art world than there is coming out of the commercial one.” is somewhat lame. There is no substance to this type of comparison since it is akin to considering the relative merits of apples and pears or chalk and cheese. Of course a commercial photographer must get the message across without the viewer having to think twice about it. That is their job; it is what they are being paid for and there is a product to sell. Art, though, often possesses subtlety and works with hidden messages and meaning that must be looked for and unlocked. Not uncommon is arts role in edification, enlightenment and education; viewers might well find themselves coming in contact with ideas, notions and concepts that are new to them or which in their every day lives they give little or no thought to. Here a little support and guidance from a curator or artist won't go amiss. Very often, it seems to me, restrictions are placed on art (and by association, photography) that nobody would dream of doing with mathematics, science or even philosophy. In these fields it is the norm, expected even, that things be explained at least to a certain degree before independent thought and analysis can commence.

Rarely do I include any preamble to my photos on TPF, however, I have occasionally been accused of attempting to add weight to my work through my choice of title. I mention this because it seems to be in keeping with your thoughts and arguments. This ignorance of the role of the titling a piece is lamentable but I don't rise to it. Coming back to the Louvre for a moment, should Eugène Delacroix have called his masterpiece "Woman With Bare Breasts Waving Flag"? maybe, since this is the ostensible main subject matter.

You have confounded two separate issues.
Title or text - or any other supplements like frame, etc - are valuable when they describe or enhance the context of a work to enlightens the viewer to its significance. In this situation the title or text edicates the viewer and raises the viewer's understanding of the qualities embedded in the art. (If we saw a Rembrandt in a cheesy metal frame, it would hurt our understanding and appreciation while the quality of the art itself would be undiminished.) I can look at a painting and recognize it is damn fine but my appreciation is increased by knowing the context and the history. With history, context and expert understanding, the 'Liberty Leading the People' means more to me.

A title or text should supplement and increase the weight of a piece of art, not stand in lieu of it. Too often the title or text is used in an attempt to increase the significance of the art itself. The art does not embody the significance, has not the quality, but is merely a reference to a significant idea that is only supplied by the title or text. A pebble from the moon is just an undistinguished pebble and is only significant because we know the context and origin. We know no more about the pebble than the context.

This is a tough problem because you are both right. The problem is that people do take advantage of size, title and writing to validate work that is actually just crap... But at the same time title and print method are parts of the work which should never be ignored, and writing can be essential to more complex concepts and ideas, or in describing inspiration or purpose. It's really up to the viewer to decide wether or not the art is up to the standards it states to be or if it is unsuccessful. But I don't think that an artwork should be considered unsuccessful just because some title or context is included with it. Pythagorean Theorem has a name for a reason.. and my math teacher explained it to me using words... That doesn't make it an unsuccessful equation because I didn't understand it before it was explained. It does what it's supposed to wether I understand it or not. But my understanding of it makes it useful to me. It's purpose becomes useful or helpful to me through my own understanding of the equation. Just like my understanding of art makes it useful as a tool of contemplation, meditation, or thought provocation.
 
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