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

    Grandpa Ron Member

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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

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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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

    Vaughn Subscriber

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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

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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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

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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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

    faberryman Subscriber

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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

    Vincent Peri Subscriber

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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

    blockend Member

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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

    Maris Member

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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

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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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

    slackercrurster Member

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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

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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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".
     
  14. Arklatexian

    Arklatexian Subscriber

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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!
     
  15. Alan Edward Klein

    Alan Edward Klein Member

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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.
     
  16. TheRook

    TheRook Member

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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.
     
  17. Doc W

    Doc W Subscriber

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

    Berkeley Mike Member

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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.
     
  19. jtk

    jtk Subscriber

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

    Berkeley Mike Member

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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.
     
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