what SIMPLE thing can people do to make their photographs better?

Discussion in 'Photographic Aesthetics and Composition' started by jnantz, Jul 31, 2016.

  1. OP
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    jnantz

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    naaaah,
    not all artists went to art school or studied art history, not all musicans go to school
    not all writers or poets &c either. its ez to paint broad brushes ...
    we are not talking about people who are professional photographers doing assignments its the
    regular person who picks up a camera or a phone and has a good time. ( although i know photographers who were making 6 figures 20 years ago
    who never went to school never studied art history and just had a knack for it )
    the problem with photography isn't the people who do what they want and "ignore the rules" if you ask me
    its the folks who are fantatical about the rules who will have a coronary if someone lets their lens vignette or
    doesn't "rule of 1/3s" or puts the subject in the dead center instead of off to the side or lets a horizon line tilt
    ( .. seeing that 2/3 or more of the folks who inhabit photography sites are gear heads ) or they don't process their own film or use d76 and tri x at f16
    i figure if someone does whatever they want, and they are photographing for them selves and not some clique of art club friends
    that they will like what they are doing and do better what they like. its not like we ( the collective people in the modern world ) aren't bombarded
    with visual images all day and all night. television, movies, advertisements pop up ads, stuff seen in books and magazines
    its all done by art educated ( maybe not ) people who are the new lexicon of art history and at this point it is all subliminal and subconscious.

    people over do it, they adhere to rules and have tunnel vision and get kind of kooky about it.
    so sure do whatever you want and have a good time,
    chances are the photographs made will be interesting
    and the more someone makes interesting photographs the better they will get at making them.
     
  2. ReginaldSMith

    ReginaldSMith Subscriber

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    "all" is not the point of contention. If I said Arizona is a Republican state, I certainly don't mean ALL voters in Arizona are Republicans.

    Just read through your own thread to see the rejection of art. It's actually hysterically funny, and a bit sad.
     
  3. OP
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    jnantz

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    what i reject is formulaic insistance that people do things a certain way.
    8 year old kids take better photographs that most people who insist that people follow rules
    ( and the kid has no idea what he or she is doing )
    the thing that is really sad is that people who are excessively technical insist that everyone be
    excessively technical, that people that love making film and developer tests insist everyone do that stuff
    when no one has to do any of that stuff. someone can just pick up a camera or phone or cardboard box with a pinhole
    or a piece of junque they pick up at the 2nd hand store or their grandmother's closet
    and have fun cause if someone is having fun that is the thing, at least to me, that matters the most, otherwise whats the point ..
    to say one's technically perfect photographs are technically perfect and perfectly composed and if they follow all the rules.. ( sounds boring to me )
    usually if someone has a good time doing something they get better at it, or at least more comfortable with it so they can push themselves and maybe be better...
    or at least buy a bigger camera ..

    or .. not :wink:
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2018
  4. ReginaldSMith

    ReginaldSMith Subscriber

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    John,
    Cameras and films and soups and sensors have nothing to do with what I meant. And let me be clear that if fun is the only objective, I agree with you - fun can be had with a hammer and nails, a found camera, a paint brush, or a bow and arrow or a rock and stick. Pretty much the only values in "fun" are individual ones. Rules don't apply. History is irrelevant.

    My photography interest begins with: photography as an art form. And then progresses down through all the meanings of that. Somewhere at the bottom of that outline, there would be cameras and sensors and all this minor detail.
     
  5. OP
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    jnantz

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    have you ever heard of or seen the exhibit of the 3rd graders from the inner city IDK 15 maybe 20 years ago who were all given
    disposible cameras by their teacher. they were told how to expose the image and how to advance to the next image,
    nothing more than that. 30 kids.
    the teacher had the film processed and printed the and they were as artful as diane arbus or bresson photographs
    it was photograph as an art form.
    the kids had absolutely no formal training, they didn't study art or go to museums &c
    they did whatever they wanted
    they were comfortable with their camera
    they paid attention and nothing else mattered
    they had a blast.
    the idea that someone has to do more than that to make photographs as "an art form"
    makes no sense to me.
    sure go to museums and study art history and photographic history but it won't make your photographs any better
    if you aren't comfortable with the camera, paying attention and doing what you want.

    its like suggesting if you don't use a densitometer or a lightmeter you have no idea what you are doing...

    personally i'm looking for a biggger camera cause i want to be taken seriously ! :wink:
     
  6. ReginaldSMith

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    I don't know about that particular exhibit, but I have seen lots of "toddler art" and even helped sell a bunch as a fund raiser. Kids have a beautiful naive view of the world, and that's usually what the art reflects. It's fun to see. A toddler is not going to produce "Guernica." I am not aware of any art movement begun by toddlers either.

    My enjoyment is being a thread in the historical fabric of the art form as it has progressed and evolved and maintained social relevance. People do this photo-thing for very diverse reasons. It's all good. My reason is to be a participant in the art form.
     
  7. MattKing

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    Photography is many things. Just like painting, and music, and pottery, and a whole bunch of other creative and useful human endeavours.
    The vast majority of photographs are not made in pursuant of the creation of art. Some of those photographs are worthy of being described as art, despite the intention. But more importantly, many, many photographs have great value, without there being any art involved at all.
    If you don't value photography that isn't art, or photographers who are not intending to create art, then you are seriously under-valuing that which is worthy of praise and attention.
    Have you never just photographed for fun?
     
  8. pdeeh

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    "First learn the rules; only then can you be permitted to break them" is the single most asinine suggestion that is ever made about creative activities, vacuous beyond belief. A rule made by creatively disabled people in an attempt to exert power and influence over those more abled than themselves

    It is permanently confused with the idea that to learn to do something really well can be a very good thing.
     
  9. FujiLove

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    I completely agree.
     
  10. Billy Axeman

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    There are basically two groups of people, those who need rules to function properly, and those who feel hampered by it because it is a mental burden for exploiting new ways of doing things. There is also a third group that is most intrusive; they are making rules and try to impose them on other people.
     
  11. FujiLove

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    I always thought there were 10 groups of people? Those who understand binary, and those who don't.
     
  12. Billy Axeman

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    I'm in the hexadecimal group.
     
  13. OP
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    jnantz

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    imagine how boring a marx brothers film would be if they didn't do whatever they wanted
    if they didn't have 6 or 8 cameras rolling at once and if margaret dumont didn't look so surprised in every scene she is in.
    they would all be zeppo ..
     
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  15. ReginaldSMith

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    The vague and changing premise of the O/P was about "better" negatives or better prints, etc. This gave a lot of posters the impression it was about "how to make better pictures." It wasn't titled "how to have more fun." So, what happened is several posters began to offer advice on how to make better pictures. Several posters rejected the idea that there was any meaning to such advice and the only thing that mattered was to point, shoot, repeat and have fun with no concerns for concepts about what makes better pictures.

    Then, I made the post you are quoting. The premise of the above post was to offer reasons that photography has historically struggled to gain respect as art, and I posited that the reason was clear: most photographers have no interest in art, it's traditions, history, and evolved concepts casually referred to as "rules" even though anyone who passed 7th grade art class knows that they aren't actually "rules" in the dictionary sense, but rather evolved concepts about picture making that the world's greatest artists of employed to their success.

    Go to the library - grab an armload of photography books (not camera books) - how many of them are about teaching techniques and concepts to get "better" photographs? Now, how many are filled with random expositions on "do your own thing as long as it is fun?"

    I only have my experience to guide me, but I have never, ever, been involved in any photographic critique, seminar, class, informal meeting, of coffee klatch where any single photographer ever stood up and said, "there are no rules, conventions or ways of making better pictures. There is only your desire to have fun. Do whatever feels good."

    I've listened to professors, successful photo-journalists, studio photographers, gallery impresarios, award winning artists, and many dozens of amateur photographers and never heard such claims as I read in this thread. Now, I HAVE heard many fine photographers declare: "I am not an artist. I just make great pictures." But they are not rejecting the concepts that make great pictures, in fact they are more strict about such so-called rules than the artists! And the two gents that come to my mind are extraordinary photographers and didn't get that way by ignoring "what makes a great picture." They are loaded with composition understanding, color knowledge, gesture, perspective and lighting. They damn well don't just spray shots around a scene and "hope we got something fun." That's my experience.

    So, I have no PERSONAL animosity to the fun-shooters - I mean come on, I don't even know them! But I do reason that photography is always fighting an uphill battle as an art form precisely because so many photographers loudly proclaim there is no point in understanding the art. It's not the same in painting. I've never seen masses of people just smooshing paint all over canvases and telling other painters not to worry, just spread it around have have fun playing with it. Well, outside of kindergarten, that is. Never have I attended a painting or drawing class where the instructor says, "Ok, you've got your pencils and paint - go to it for three hours and have fun! I'll be back at the end to see how you did."
     
  16. ReginaldSMith

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    I hate to burst your bubble there Billy, but in art the word "rule" doesn't mean anything remotely close to what you are trying to imagine and project here. There's an astonishing level of pure ignorance about art being expressed in this thread.
     
  17. ReginaldSMith

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    I couldn't find any of your photos on Photrio. Can you point to some?
     
  18. ReginaldSMith

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    They're following a well understood comedic style. Remember, just because it is improv doesn't mean it isn't a style with historical conventions. Hollywood is run by producers, not actors. Producers are bankers, they don't roll cameras because someone said, "I could play around in from of the camera for you."
     
  19. OP
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    jnantz

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    i actually am the OP and i laid down concrete ways someone could supposedly improve their photography, improve their negatives improve their prints
    but now 2 years later i realized i was completely wrong. imposing rules or dictating what works for me ( or anyone else ) will not insure better negatives for someone, or better prints
    and better meaning less bad not better "art". the premise of the original post had nothing to do with making art or photography's place in the art world as its ugly cousin
    that as jacob cohen said " gets no respect " but better photographs, and if someone is enjoying themselves
    and comfortable with their gear and not worreid about whether or not their exposure or processing or prints followed some rule. chances are
    they will probably have more self confidence and make more photographs with whatever style they like, and get better .. im really not so sure why this seems like some outrageous suggestion.
    the more you do something usually the better you get, practice makes perfect &c. you want to photograph your lunch go ahead have a blast
    you will get your snapshots ( or review your screen ) and see what worked for you and what didn't and repeat and review again and get better . i dont' think people with cameras
    ( no matter what kind of camera ) are unable to know what works for them and what doesn't. what works for me might be a horrible photograph for someone else...

    isnt' that what you are doing, what you want and what feels good ?

    ===

    i almost forgot

    https://www.lomography.com/about/the-ten-golden-rules
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
  20. ReginaldSMith

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    No.
     
  21. ReginaldSMith

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    Art doesn't IMPOSE rules or DICTATE anything, ever. This is apparently a very common misunderstanding. Anything I say beyond this will sound pedantic and people will lose their marbles, so, I'll leave it at misunderstanding.
     
  22. michael_r

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    A few simple things to make one's photographs better (possibly): Read Photography and the Art of Seeing by Freeman Patterson, and Artforms by Prebles.
     
  23. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Hi Micheal, I printed a cibachrome show for Freeman Patterson in the 90's , a lot of those sand dunes in building images, he was a very nice person to work with.
     
  24. ReginaldSMith

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    My sincere apologies to all the "do your own thing" proponents. I really did forget that most camera owners are just documenting their lives, and not interested in art. And absolutely, no guidelines, so-called rules, history, concepts, movements, or style issues need enter the conversation. It's always for fun.

    I'm doing a reboot.
     
  25. OP
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    jnantz

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    so you aren't photographing what you want the way you want to photograph?
    i am guessing you aren't a robot or marionette that has been programmed to respond to certain situations, lighting &c.
    and if you didn't enjoy what you were doing, unless you are yosarian im guessing you wouldn't do it ... :wink:

    i know exactly what you are saying, no art doesn't impose or dictate rules, its PEOPLE who dictate the rules like everything else.
    and someone can either follow another person's rules and play by someone elses game or do what they want.
    making photographs or artistic photographs or ? isnt' really rocket science.
     
  26. michael_r

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    Very cool, Bob. I wish his earlier work had been printed that way. I have a print of one of my favourite images of his, but it's a big inkjet and the quality is terrible unfortunately for a few reasons. Too bad the earlier work was never really printed at the time. I was lucky enough to meet him here about ten years ago.

    If it is indeed possible for people to improve their photographs by learning, I can't think of anything better than his books Photography and the Art of Seeing, and Photography For the Joy of It. Of all the art books I've studied, these two little gems are definitely up there in my opinion.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
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