Individual Modus Operandi

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Ed Sukach

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Here I hope to open an honest DISCUSSION (note: Two way .. or three ... or as many as would like to jump in ..) about the underlying principles, mindsets - and/or the experiences that brought our works into being.

ALL insights into our "way of working" - our individual choices - and our comments on the individual choices of another are welcomed.

Let us refrain from judgement - there is no "Right" or "Wrong" way - only different ones.
Disagreement, dissent is fine - and encouraged. Let us just keep it civil.


I'll start it off with a quote from one of the "finest" - Henri-Cartier Bresson: "Of course, It is all a matter of luck."

And one from Manuel Alvarez Bravo, "- The word "art" is very slippery. It really has no importance in relation to one's work. I work for the pleasure. For the pleasure of the work, and everything else is a matter for the critics".
 

blansky

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Not to get off track here but why is it necessary to end every post with a "quote" from someone or other.

Is this some sort of showing off of the amount of spare time one has or is it because one is incapable of describing things in ones own words?

Does it carry more credence because someone else said it? Does it make it fact?

It reminds me of people who for every statement they make they have to quote something from the bible.

Very boring.

Just an opinion.


"Hi de hi de hi, Hi de hi de ho, Ree de dah de doo, Ree de dah de doh, Bo de dah do dah, Bo de dah do dah, Ho de ho de ho , ho de hoo de ho"

....Cab Calloway


MIchael McBlane
 

noblebeast

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blansky said:
Not to get off track here but why is it necessary to end every post with a "quote" from someone or other.

Is this some sort of showing off of the amount of spare time one has or is it because one is incapable of describing things in ones own words?

Does it carry more credence because someone else said it? Does it make it fact?

I'm as guilty of this as anyone, and I have seen that in most instances it is because someone else has articulated my thoughts much more elegantly than I could at the moment. It also seems to do with lack of self-esteem - we quote the "Great Thinkers" because we consider our own words worth less since we don't occupy the rarified air of those pedestal squatters.

In a few cases it is a tool of obfuscation perfected by such pundits as George Will, wherein if I can offer up arcane quotes then by association I must be as brilliant as the Great Mind, and therefore your little mind cannot possibly compete against my arguments and you must surrender to my point of view. (Yeah, bite me)

I'd like to volley a question back, though certainly not directed to Michael alone:

Why do so many of us spend so much time pseudo-intellectualizing about photography and "Art?"

It reminds me of sex - those who spend the most time thinking about it and discussing it quite obviously aren't doing it.
 

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noblebeast said:
[
It reminds me of sex - those who spend the most time thinking about it and discussing it quite obviously aren't doing it.

Can I quote you on that?
 

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Bravo is right. What is art. Even critics and the ones that subsidize it do not have a waterproof definition. Just enjoy your photography and make sure to give luck a chance. Let your both sides of your brain be in perfect balance and harmony.

Hans
 

George Losse

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Hans,

I agree, "just enjoy your photography" Who cares about the art side of the world, is that really why people are shooting? Not me, I take the camera out
because I enjoy it.

Either some folks have way too much spare time or they just like to hear themselves talk.

Luck and hard work go hand and hand. If you don't know the basics then no matter how lucky you are your have trouble making an image. And if you are a
technical wizard and aren't lucky from time to time, then your work has a strong chance of being rather pedestrian.
 
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Ed Sukach

Ed Sukach

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Quotes often are the avenues that reveal the mindset. I could make a lot of guesses about the way some of the "greats" work, but second hand guesses are rarely, if ever, as accurate or effective as the photographers own words.

Can I always articulate my emotions and pre-conscious non-thought? Of course not - to claim anything else would be absurd. Do I run across something said by someone else that DOES "match" - at times? Certainly.

I joined in a "Life Class" - me, a bunch of pencils and charcoals and a nude model - in a group of those more experienced than I. *Wonderful* experience, because it proved to me that there are times when meticulous thought - being very careful - was counter productive. Some of the best work occurs when one "leaves ones self" and lets things flow - nearly purely intuitively.
And that applied not only to my work - but the work of some very prominent artists in that session.

I've been applying the same idea to my photography - and it seems to work.

Try this - "I do photography because I feel better doing it than I do when I don't do it." - Ed Sukach
 

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Hiking with the 8x10 is great physical exercise - I can eat ice cream and brownies later after the Osso Buco. Plus, I can get away from the wife for a few hours. Bonus - if something beautiful comes out of it.
 

Donald Miller

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I take out my 4X5 when I am feeling relatively secure within myself, my 8X10 when I am "out of sorts", and my 12X20 when I am wanting to impress others...We engage in windy discussions about the relative size of one's camera format as an indication of the size other physical attributes...this is all accomplished as we belch and pass gas. It doesn't solve many of the worlds problems. However it does leave me feeling somewhat better.

My memory is declining at such an advancing rate that I don't remember many quotes. I wouldn't want to have others think that I don't have an original thought. For that reason, I try to quote only myself.

Donald Miller
 
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Ed Sukach

Ed Sukach

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noblebeast said:
In a few cases it is a tool of obfuscation perfected by such pundits as George Will, wherein if I can offer up arcane quotes then by association I must be as brilliant as the Great Mind, and therefore your little mind cannot possibly compete against my arguments and you must surrender to my point of view. (Yeah, bite me)

OOO!!! Wish I had said that!!

I think those "tools of obfuscation" were invented by art critics.
 

mark

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"I do photography because I feel better doing it than I do when I don't do it." - Ed Sukach


Pretty much sums it up for me. I just want to shoot. But I do look for strong lines. Not necessarily curves but good strong lines.

So far this thread has had sex, masturbation, and obfuscation(is that legal?) I'm afraid I can't associate with such a bunch of potty mouths and gutter minds. Pretty soon michaels 1000 thread count sheets will enter into the fray and no one will be safe.

By the way, if one quotes oneself too much, will one go blind? :wacko:
 

Aggie

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Ya know this could be a very fun thread......

Just have to be lucky and have 1000 thread count sheets. Be artistic and have a hot tub next to the darkrrom. Then there are those koi fish and a bit of the vino. Now what critic could judge that to be unenlightened? Failing that we have our trusty hocky sticks. So to quote Blansky. "puck you" notice that is spelled with a P!
 

Ka

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I look with my eyes, with my lens. I see what I see. I like what I see. Print what I see. I like what I print.
 

fhovie

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Ed Sukach said:
Here I hope to open an honest DISCUSSION (note: Two way .. or three ... or as many as would like to jump in ..) about the underlying principles, mindsets - and/or the experiences that brought our works into being.



Well Ed, at first it was to create technical perfection. Clear sharp and bright. Now I am not so sure.

Maybe what I want to capture just can't be had with an 8x10 all the time. Maybe it doesn't have to print 20x24 to captivate me. Maybe it doesen't have to be beautiful to be wonderful. Maybe it doesn't have to be 350 miles away to be special. Maybe it should be the ordinary seen as extrordinary without being trite or clice. Maybe it should be found. Maybe it should be created.

I AM confused of course and so that means it WILL be an accident so I guess I'll click away and see what develops. Maybe I should get some sleep now!

Frank

Signature removed because I don't want to feel foolish for blansky. Whom I regard as a great photographer with compeling ideas. (true) But the next thread the signature goes back on - Sorry Blaine -
 
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I do photography because it is the expressive medium that best fits me (that I've tried so far). My mind works visually to a degree that I haven't encountered in many other people. Every conceivable thought that goes on in my mind is visually represented. Every night I dream and it's like going to six Lynch-Bertolucci-Kurosawa-Hideo-SABU-Doyle films in a row.

If I can't express myself visually, my old mental issues come back to haunt me. Sometimes shooting is as much about staying sane as it is about creating. I have an overactive mind. It goes fast. Too fast. Like Robin Williams fast, only with imagery instead of humor. I can't keep up with it half the time.

I own cameras in formats from 35mm to 8x10 and I love and use all of them. Which one I choose (while more recently financially motivated) is generally dictated by my state of mind. Two years ago I shot almost exclusively with my 8x10. Now I shoot almost exclusively with my Nikon and my 645. A decade ago when I first got interested in photography, I read Ansel's books and took them as gospel. Now my favorite photographers are Moriyama, Araki, and Henson.

So do I even have an MO? I think so, but it's pretty damn slippery. It isn't a matter of doing what feels right - sometimes the creative process hurts like hell. It isn't a matter of doing what I want to do - sometimes I don't want to shoot but I force myself to do it anyway. Ultimately, my MO may just be to do whatever the hell my neurosis dictates on a particular day.

=========

Edit...more thoughts...

And this is just how I operate right now. I've been doing photography for about a decade now, but I'm still only 22. I fully intend to keep shooting for another 70 years. I can't begin to comprehend what manner of change will take place in terms of my working method, MO, and vision.

Also, photography is just what fits me best so far. Is it possible that I never find anything better? Quite possible. But it's also possible that I may make my first film in grad school and become wholly addicted to motion pictures. Or (gasp!) high-end digital imaging, serigraphy, multimedia, etc, for that matter. I simply have no clue what's in store. But then, maybe that's a good thing. It would be pretty boring if you could clearly see where the road ahead of you was leading.
 

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okay, you want quotes? well then how about: "the nice part about masturbation is that you don't have to look your best." and....."you never have to say, don't stop!" i'm sure somebody really famous said those things....probably rather often.

i photograph because it gives me the opposite experience of performance. i don't have to show the results til i'm good and ready and then i KNOW the image will meet my expectations, because it's as good as it's going to be before anyone sees it. try that in performance!

actually, the photographic experience stays with me most of the day because i don't even open my eyes much anymore without "looking and seeing" in terms of light, form and composition. it's almost obsessive. when i'm lucky enough to have time to use a camera, i just attempt to put it on film as well as in my imagination. it's completely organic now.
 
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Ed Sukach

Ed Sukach

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I believe that everyone has a "Modus Operandi" - particular channels we follow when we do photography. Those methods is closely related to "style" - which really is the characteristics of a work - photograph - that we inevitably display that will serve, symbolically, as our identity.

In the past, it was de rigueur among some photographers to keep meticulous records - to nearly fanatically - record shutter speeds and f/stops, film, time of day, phase of the moon ... barometric pressure and possibly a host of other TECHNICAL parameters. A notebook was a necessity. I think there was some, "If I set my camera to the *same* f/stop and shutter speed - I get a photograph of equal `value'."
The surrounding technical information is, undeniably, of some interest - I will NOT "knock" anyone that does this.

To me - the most important information in the making of a photograph is the particular mindset and emotional state of the photographer at the moment of releasing the shutter. An entry in a notebook might read:
"May 4 - On the road to Gloucester, through Magnolia. Overcast and windy. Depressed, struggling with a bad head cold, late for an appointment - some sort of a strange noise in the engine, breakfast did not sit well. Then I "saw" it - fantastic, unique wave action among the rocks along Route 127. Stopped, did a U-turn, parked in an illegal space for a moment, jumped out of the vehicle - and the result is frames 6,7,8 and 9.

That would be, only rarely, recorded (see: Late for appointment). I would have a memory, as inefficient as memory may be, of that information and a lot of it would resurface when I re-visited the final print/s

There is so much more. An "entry" might be: "May 4. Watching Scottish Soccer (Football) on the 'tube' in my studio while waiting for the model. Idly glanced over and realized that a shaft of light from one of the windows was backlighting one of the columns I use as props. Decided to use the same lighting on the model - If time did not alter it significantly. If the light "went away" would duplicate it with strobes."

That is examining the process on a "micro" level. Even more interesting might be "Macro".
Here goes - one facet of "me" - very incomplete and somewhat oversimplified:
There are *NO* "mistakes in photography. There are two distinct "types" of results: The wonderful, expressive, "far better than it has any right to be", successful photograph; and the interesting excursions into the unknown (or at least, unexpected) for the noble purpose of gathering information.
 

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This discussion shows the value of periodic re-assessments of your work -- what it means, what you're doing right, what you're doing wrong. Use a notebook, and go through your proofsheets -- occasional the past few months' worth, very occasionally the past many years' worth. This will help you understand the character of your work, how it has changed (for good or ill), and often leads to insights about things in your work that you had not previously recognized. Keep an eye open too for exceptions -- experiments or "awkward" photos that don't easily fit into your own understanding of "my ouevre" -- the interesting ones are often signposts toward new places for your work (or sometimes, warnings :smile:).
  • jul03b-11.jpg

    Non-characteristic, summer 2003
 
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Ed Sukach

Ed Sukach

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... More thoughts...

I've been searching for a proper place to enter this, not wanting to start more categories ...
This really defines a lot of my modus operandi ... whether I like it or not. At any rate, they might be worthy of future thought and discussion:


"I know perfectly well that I myself have no special talents", he wrote. "It was curiosity, obsession, and sheer perserverance that brought me to my ideas."

- Albert Einstein

and:

"He smiled and gently asked me to put my equations on the blackboard, and then came these words, which I shall always remember:
"Please go slowly. I do not understand things quickly."
This from Einstein!"

- Banesh Hoffman, Physicist who collaborated with Einstein.


I do NOT suggest anything like being on the same level as Einstein... far from it. At the same time ... I do share some mindsets and idiosyncracies.

I love it when a never before thought of insight shatters stereotypes.
 
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Francessco It's nice to see you back!

When I got into photography of course I was obsessed but my "M.O" was to make money. That did not work as well as I had planned (well not near as much as I dreamed) but the thing that did happen and was unexpected: It awoke my senses.
 
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