Do you challenge your assumptions of your aesthetics and processes in photography?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Mainecoonmaniac, Sep 4, 2018.

  1. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber
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    If so, what's your approach. I feel personal growth doesn't happen if you don't challenge yourself.
     
  2. Grandpa Ron

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    Never had an issue with personal growth or confidence. If I want to try something and it works, I am a hero; if it does not work, I am a fink.

    It is the challenge that rates high in my book. In photography, as in most activities, there are always folks who do it better than you and folk who are not as good as you. Neither has any influence on my decision to try.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018
  3. Bob Carnie

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    I am constantly challenging myself , its a real concern.... Fonzie jumped the shark... I am hoping I never do and this forces me to look at everything and everyone I work with. For years I owned a Ciba machine and during a period of time I convinced myself that Ciba's were better than other media, I do not do inkjet canvas printing because I think it is cheap and sleasy (IMO)

    I am looking back at thousands of negatives, colour and black and white , as well as prints of some of these images and still today I rip up those I feel are lacking.
     
  4. Vaughn

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    If I hear myself saying things that start with "I always..." or "I never...", I will sometimes take that as a challenge.
     
  5. jnanian

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    i like to doing things believing i have no idea what i am doing
    and sometimes things work out and sometimes they don't. i try to do my best
    and not give up too easily cause nothing worthwhile is usually done quickly ..
    and while bob thinks canvas prints are sleasy, meh, if someone wants one
    im happy to sell them one, because they like it, and they can sometimes look
    as beautiful as a paper print or a metal print or a plastic print or a paper print ...
     
  6. OP
    OP
    Mainecoonmaniac

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    To all those that responded to this post that have done photography for decades, is keeping "A beginner's mind" difficult? As for me, it's hard. But once in a while, I see images in Flicker by beginning photographers that blow my mind. There's a danger of being too experienced and claiming that one is "An expert" in photography. I heard this phrase a few months back. It goes "A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothings grows there."
     
  7. faberryman

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    I don't know about challenging myself. It sounds a little grandiose for trying new things, which I frequently do.
     
  8. Vincent Peri

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    When I shoot color 35mm film, I NEVER think about trying to compete image-wise with other photographers, famous or not. I shoot for myself alone.

    When I'm shooting B&W 35mm, that's another story. Ansel Adams, Minor White, Fred Picker, and other Zone System photographers are in my mind whenever I take a B&W photo. I'm almost 68 years old, so I don't want to waste time trying to learn to do special developing (n+2, n+1, n-1, etc) once I get another darkroom - maybe in 3-4 months. I use a Pentax Spotmeter V, find an area of the photographic scene that I want to be Zone V, then set the exposure for that and shoot. I let the other Zones fall where they may. I've been using the Zone System since the late 1970's, and the vast majority of photos I've shot came out the way I expected them to. I almost never needed to dodge or burn in. My goal is to get the scene photographed so that the print looks the way the scene really was. I don't have any special vision I'm trying to reach... as close to reality as possible is plenty enough for me.

    Hmm... ten or 20 bananas
    for supper is plenty enough
    for me...
    [​IMG]
     
  9. blockend

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    It's important to avoid mannerism, in other words finding a look and producing work that fulfils our expectation of it. That's different from consistent subject matter, or technique. It's more of a problem with digital, where someone can push a few sliders and claim a unique visual identity, but it's still a problem with film. If I find myself producing work that relies largely or exclusively on a particular technical intervention, I change tack. I prefer work where technique plays second fiddle to the subject matter.
     
  10. Maris

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    For me the challenge does not lie in aesthetics or process. I've been at this game long enough, a half a century or so, to be confident of my aesthetic values (true to myself, in other words) and confident of the techniques which can express those values in visible form. It is no advance for me to become the gad-fly of photography.

    The constant challenge is to find subject matter that can be used so that my photograph of it expresses what I want to communicate. I'll descend to metaphor or simile if I have to. And searching the world for this subject matter, intense looking hopefully leading to intense seeing, is a recurrent delight.
     
  11. jnanian

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    IDK MCM,
    one thing i learned a few years ago is not to rest on my laurels ...
    i guess i was an OK ( at exposing, composition, processing, composition, editing, printing &c)
    or at least i thought i was and then i realized that if i didn't put stumbling blocks infront of myself
    that i would never be any better than i assumed that i was. if i didn't print poorly processed film
    if i didn't interpret crap into something maybe a little better than crap i would NEVER be any better than
    the last frame i exposed and processed and printed that was a perfect exposure, perfect composition, perfect
    development techniques &c. maybe i am fooling myself and my photography is terrible, but at least
    i don't have an ego and think my sh¡† don't stink LOL, cause i know im terrible compared to many many many many people
    whose eyes have looked at ground glass, or through a viewfinder or used a darkroom .... to answer your question directly
    its not difficult, and it takes absolutely no work to realize photography is bigger than i will ever be ...
     
  12. slackercrurster

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    I have changed with the times. Although when you age you may slow down some when it comes to bold street work. Even so, my skills improve so it kinda makes up for it.
     
  13. TheFlyingCamera

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    This is why in part I teach. I have to keep an open mind and a gentle touch when explaining things to students because I'm there to encourage them in THEIR interests, not brow-beat/crush them into doing what I want them to do. I provide technical structure, yes, but really only in the service of making life easier for them so they don't have to reinvent the wheel before they start experimenting on their own stuff, and can tell the difference between a failure and a deviation.

    For my own personal work, I've been learning to embrace serendipity and imperfection, which is not a flaw if you understand it and work with it. I got my start in photography with Ansel Adams and Robert Mapplethorpe as idols to emulate. I was looking for technically perfect, razor-sharp, super-detailed images. Over time I've found making those kinds of images to be rather clinical and/or about virtuosic demonstrations of technical craft that lack a certain spirit. I do use a couple of Lomo cameras now, in addition to my Rolleiflexes and Mamiya RZ67 (see what I mean about technical perfection?), but the un-thinkingness of the Lomos frees me. Maybe I'll devolve all the way to being just a pinhole shooter, or at some point put all of that down and concentrate on large format work. But I think the most important bit is to not be married to restrictive thinking - "it isn't successful unless it uses the golden mean for an aspect ratio, is perfectly exposed, with everything in sharp focus".
     
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  15. Arklatexian

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    Good point and I must add that for me, I am my severest critic. After 70 years in "serious photography", I still don't believe I have made a really good picture. One that completely satisfies ME. Maybe if I am able to drag myself out to the darkroom, one more time, I'll change that. Maybe!......Regards!
     
  16. Alan Edward Klein

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    I tend to see things the same way. I do advance technically though as I correct technical mistakes. But changing my aesthetics and how I see things is limited.
     
  17. TheRook

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    With my photography, I often like to experiment and explore new ideas. I suppose one could interpret this as an attempt to challenge myself. However, "challenging" sounds like I'm forcing myself to do something, which isn't really the case. Experimentation and exploration come natural to me - I get bored doing the exact same thing over and over again. I need more from a hobby.
     
  18. Doc W

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    Trying to express an idea always forces me to re-examine my aesthetic approach and my technical knowledge.
     
  19. Berkeley Mike

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    I have been re-inventing a photo course I have taught for 10 semesters in College and High School. The two venues present different demands and opportunities; that synergy has created a new view of flow and understanding.

    Mostly I am re-organizing the timing of certain concepts, concepts overlapping into consecutive sessions, new content between reviews of the last session and previews of things to come in the next step, relying on hands-on before in-depth lecture and text, investing in small but numerous repetitions of concepts, and brain-storm responses in analysis of advanced images. In the 3rd week of day and night sessions it is starting to get clear.

    That said, I was supporting a combined Intro and Intermediate Pro class last week, far too large for the studio. 1900 sq ft and 32-50 warm bodies. We had 6 sets, models, make-up, Photojournalism shooters for the occaision. I was in charge of administration, management and PR. In the flurry one of my old students had a new camera and let me shoot it with him on set. I checked a thing or two and went to work. I work easily with subjects on set and just moved along. I had what I needed in a half-dozen shot on a camera I had never used.

    The two experiences, I believe, are connected at a very deep level. Through my teaching process I re-understand what I know and it becomes stronger.
     
  20. jtk

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    Wow! Sounds like hard work and a lot of fun/value for students as well as you!
     
  21. Berkeley Mike

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    Thank you for your thoughts. Today one of my colleagues, who also teaches this class, said something similar. Between the requirements of the course, the variety of skills within the curriculum and its delivery, and the constant evaluation of the effectiveness of the method I'm pressed. I cannot rest on a pre-established path.

    It is fatiguing; just as challenging assumptions.
     
  22. Arklatexian

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    Me, I just hope that I never let the technical side of this, might I say, obsession to blind me to the elements that make up a good, interesting, picture/photograph that I would like and others might like also. I do miss discussions about pictures/photographs that we once had in a really good camera club that had both professional and advanced amateurs in its membership. Many times discussions would start at the meetings and continue over coffee after the meetings were over. I fear those clubs are gone. Question: do digital clubs discuss these things or are they only interested in equipment?.......Regards!
     
  23. Berkeley Mike

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    I work very hard to make the technical stuff second nature. It is incredibly liberating and allows the vision to flow unimpeded. Most of my current community is about teaching so it focuses on methods and the gripes we have in common.
     
  24. MattKing

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    There really isn't any change.
    Just like in the days where film was the only choice, there is always a mixture - talk about gear, talk about tricks and techniques and talk about the power and effectiveness of photographs.
    I'm a member of two groups right now - one is focused on analogue and darkroom, with an open mind about digital, while the other is focused on photographic art and projects and bringing both to a stage where it can be presented publicly. In both cases though, just about everything photographic comes up, including gear.
    The only fundamental change is that the subject of computers and software is now part of the photographic discussion taking place (yech!).
     
  25. Berkeley Mike

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    Just pretend you are talking about developers...:wink:
     
  26. jnanian

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    do people here on photrio or elsewhere in the real world have the foundation down to have meaningful conversations about aesthetics ?
    at least on the internet in the 3 or 4 photo sites i have been affiliated with over the last 20+years .. the conversations de-evolved into
    a pie throwing contest between "creative types" and "techy types"

    is it like that in real life?
    i've never been to a camera club meeting .. maybe this sort of conversation seems to be prevalent when people
    hide behind the anonymity of the internet / not having a "real" conversation with a "real" person
    instead its a conversation with an "internet personality" ... ?

    sorry to ask, but do people actually critique people's work in camera clubs?
    in school people put their work on the wall and were sometimes reduced to a quivering mess on the floor, only to
    come back in 2 days and have improved work ( or not ) on the wall again to talk about ... ( the why's are as important as the photo )
    a lot of people don't know how to critique and their lack of bedside manner comes off
    as being disingenuous, harsh + exaggerated ( see previous comment about lacking ability to have a conversaton about aesthetics )..
    to give an example ... i've had a so called "artiste" on apug say nothing but " your photography sucks" i tried to engage
    him and he never bothered to reply...
    and then another person sought me out
    and sent me a link to a photograph he wanted me to critique
    but held a grudge against me and trolled me for years because i wouldn't do just that say " your work sucks"
    seeing i had no context or explanation of what he was trying to do ... the internet and camera clubs are strange..
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2018
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