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

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

  1. ReginaldSMith

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    The connotation of the original question about having fun didn't suit me. Satisfaction, fun, entertainment, enjoyment, amusement all have related but differing implications. I plan what I am doing, I apply my artistic goals, learning, and experience and work hard at achieving an outcome. It is very satisfying, gratifying, often frustrating and disappointing, but on the whole it soothes my soul. I'll let you decide if that should be called "fun" or not. :smile:
     
  2. Sirius Glass

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    When I was growing up my parents dragged us through every art gallery and museum in the Washington DC - Baltimore area. I ended up learning a lot about art and composition. In the end that really helped my photography.
     
  3. NedL

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    { mini wall-of-text deleted }

    Edit: changed my mind. I'm not responding to this after all. :smile:
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
  4. jtk

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    Yes!
     
  5. jim10219

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    Getting an art degree made me a better artist. But having an art degree does not. What that art degree did for me was allow me to spend 4 years of my life completely submersed in art without having to deal with the real world. You just can't dedicate yourself that intensely in the real world. There are too many bills to pay and responsibilities to fulfill.

    My art school was great about not teaching you anything on the technical side. My professors knew that technical mastery wasn't art. It's craft. And craft is fine. But it's not what makes great art great. Instead, they taught us how to see, speak, and understand art. They expected us to learn technical mastery on our own time. I had some friends who got associates degrees in art at various community colleges. Their experience was quite different. They were trained on the technical side. They never learned how to see and understand art in school (though some learned that on their own time). And I know some very talented artists who have no formal training. Some studied under a professional, others are completely self taught.

    In all of the various routes you could take to become an artist, none were any better at producing good artists. In fact, finding someone who is truly a good artist in this world is rare. But they do exist. And they all have one thing in common...

    That one simple thing that will make you a better photographer (or artist) is a love for photography (or art). If you don't love it, you won't push yourself to be constantly better. You won't dedicate the time necessary to get the experience. You won't constantly ask yourself questions. You won't spend time obsessing over other art works you admire. You won't maintain the passion. Because that's all that is required for good artwork. Passion and dedication.
     
  6. jtk

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  7. jtk

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    I don't think art school or love of photography (whatever that is) will "make you" a better photographer.

    If one is normally perceptive, responds to the work of other photographers, and enjoys their own imagination, they can become better photographers..IF they work on it.
     
  8. OP
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    jnantz

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    IDK
    when someone is in art school it is an incubator for creativity
    i can see how going to art school and being in an incubator for creativity
    can in turn make you a better photographer .. but to each their own
     
  9. Vaughn

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    When one is playing sport, if you do not play against someone better, one does not improve. If one wishes to learn, one must study with someone who is wiser than oneself. That is the one of the advantage of a good university art program. Another is having access to artists, equipment and facilities to explore different forms of creative expression....all in a relatively short period of time. Plus it is good to be 'forced' to consider the history of art from different prespectives, to be able to defend one's ideas verbally and in writing. But I am glad I was a Natural Resources Management major, who just hung out in the photo end of things!

    But I would not put attending a college art degree program as a simple thing. A simple thing would be to take a pile of prints one has made that sung out and said "Yes", and a pile of prints that just kinda say, "What the heck happened...". Go camping alone, or hide in a friend's empty apartment or where ever, and just look at one's photographs. Delve into to why some worked and others flopped. Turn off the phone. Take or don't take notes. Don't take input from others at this time. Just look.

    I made a set of 4x5 contact prints to take on a 8 month bicycle trip (w. 4x5). I meant just to be able to show folks the type of work I did and what the redwoods are like. I got the flu and was stuck in a tent for a week of rain...the only thing I could do was sleep and look at those 20 or so prints. I think it is the only time that the flu, in hindsight, was a good thing to have happened.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
  10. RalphLambrecht

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    I can offer one for making prints:expose for the highlights and tune contrast for the shadows. made a world of difference to my printing.
     
  11. jtk

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    Can't disagree much with that except that I've seen a lot of art school work and I've seen a lot of creative (whatever that means) work from writers, studio assistants, outdoors people (eg Galen Rowell), and "housewives".
     
  12. jtk

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    Makes sense to me. Sorta.

    Maybe there are equally good paths to photo. For that matter, going directly after photo may be a photo dead end vs, for example video or theatre.

    That aside, i've always learned more from individual women and their responses to my work. I studied research psychology but girlfriends encouraged photo and importantly I audited industrial and graphic design classes (think Whole Earth Catalog, think Bauhaus).
     
  13. OP
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    jnantz

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    these are great suggestions on becoming better !.
    i had originally envisioned this thread as a set of simple suggestions like
    "keep a bean bag in your camera bag incause you don't have a tripod .. "
    but there's a lot of heavy-stuff there, great stuff for improving.
    yeah their approach and im guessing the classes you took
    were multi disciplinary ... to be a good at photography you need
    to know textile design, construction ( theatre design ) graphic design painting and sculpture ..
    as well as large animal veterinary science, and dentistry cause in the end its all the same but different ..
     
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  15. jtk

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    true, more or less. I also had Grateful Dead members in grad school. Ceramicists, dope dealers. Multi stuff. Who was more of an artist than a Jerry Garcia wife? How many photo B.A.s are productive off line and how many get something hung on Starbucks wall at age 59 being credited with art degree before they became baristas or phone bank voices? What's the ratio? Not sure that art teachers are the best influences for artists, not to mention photographers.
     
  16. William Crow

    William Crow Member

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    Determine what is generic and don't shoot it. Don't copy others. Ask yourself why this or that photo is unique. Predominantly, of your work, show only what is unique to you.
     
  17. OP
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    jnantz

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    starbucks, ratio of working artists ( with part time jobs) drug dealers, ceramicists, jerry garcia's wife ( he had a few ) multi ?
    you kind of lost me
    ... but that's ok cause im a fan of art schools and mentor/teachers pushing students+opening their eyes ...
    and being able to discuss what they are doing and why ..
    btw anyone can get their artwork on the wall of starbucks, you just have to talk to a manager and get on the list,

    im not really sure how "little things that can be done to be a better photographer" became the critique
    on commercial success / nationally recognized, locally recognized &c "artist" because for most people photography just a fun hobby, not a job. ...
    something to do that is fun, that is a bit of them that they share with their friends and family ... kind of like
    suburban, rural and urban dwellers of the 1880s who got the envelope of round prints and their KODAK reloaded and mailed back to them...

    thanks for your suggestions, but doesn't that go against what a lot of people do? they specifically seek out work they admire views that have been made
    by others and make them for themselves ... ? art school students often go to museums and copy works on the wall ...
    and im guessing if you go to any photography webiste or "group" ( online or in person ) you will com across
    more people asking how they can make a photograph that looks like xyz or than someone just doing their own thing ...
    success or getting better at making photographs most of the time has nothing to do with being unique
    ( unless uniqueness is a mesure of personal success )
    ... but being able to manipulate gear and media to you get what you want to get ( and that might be aunt millie with her family on her 100th birthday )
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2018
  18. jtk

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    For some people "better" has to do with being more individualized. Not more normalized.

    For others it has to do with being more normalized (less unique).

    Technical perfection has always been, and increasingly been easy by normalized standards. That was essentially the goal of George Eastman's business model. And of course that's why he shot himself.

    Do we (humans) want to be normalized or do we want to be better?
     
  19. faberryman

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    Are you suggesting I am likely to shoot myself if I enroll in an MFA program? If so, I would have expected to read about it on PetaPixel by now.
     
  20. OP
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    jnantz

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    the opening post in this thread i ask a simple question
    no clue how jerry garcia's ex wife or george eastman's shooting himself ended up in this thread

    its got nothing to do with normalcy or uniqueness.. its just quick tips to make your life easier...
    ==

    have a water bath at 68F to put the metal or plastic tank in
    inbetween agitations to keep the chemicals at 68F some say ( not sure how true it is ) that hands at 98
    raise the temp of the developer in the tank ,,,
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2018
  21. jtk

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    OK.."easier."

    The OT said "better" then somebody suggested "art school" ("better" was arguable but it's evidently not "easier" (given the high rate of quitting).

    I'll simply mention Rodinal at 1+100 dilution, semi-stand development (i.e. one inversion half way through). That isn't temp or time critical and does squeeze the last bit of perceived sharpness out of virtually any B&W film...

    Rodinal's apparently controversial for those who don't value perceived sharpness, but it remains far "easier" than any other B&W developer.

    PS.. Rodinal with stand or semi-stand development can produce a distinctive/elusive "black halo" edge effect. With MF and LF that benefit is lost and uneven development is likely. Amateurs/artists can be passionate about Rodinal stand development and perceived sharpness.

    http://www.martinzimelka.com/pages/AGFA_Rodinal.html
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2018
  22. jtk

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    No need. George Eastman already took care of that. By the way (we should do a poll): Of the fine photographers we know in person, how many got their chops in "art school" ?
     
  23. Vaughn

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    A majority of them...but then that is the type of person I tend to know.

    "Chops" usually refers to technical ability, rather than creative ability -- art schools are fine for that. But art schools are a way to jump start one's education -- they are not destinations. One does not learn everything in art school, one learns how to learn and what the possibilities of learning are. Then one moves on and the real learning begins.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2018
  24. summicron1

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    The best thing you can do is count to three before pushing the shutter. This gives you a bit of time to ponder composition, light, etc., and make adjustments.

    Patience is the key. This is why someone shooting a 12-shot rolleiflex can get 3 or 4 keepers, while someone with a 36-shot leica also get 3 or 4 keepers.

    OK, I do, anyway. Your results may vary. Batteries not included. Some restrictions apply.
     
  25. jtk

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    No argument there (tho "chops" is a jazz term, more than technical). I'm too stuck in the mud to fully appreciate much of the "conceptual" work that art schools seem to favor today. I was influenced/inspired-by friends who became successful artists (sold stuff in galleries, taught in art school) thanks to RIT/Minor White back in ancient times.

    Vaughn, I love your profoundly "simple" tent/rain/redwoods story:

    ".... I would not put attending a college art degree program as a simple thing. A simple thing would be to take a pile of prints one has made that sung out and said "Yes", and a pile of prints that just kinda say, "What the heck happened...". Go camping alone, or hide in a friend's empty apartment or where ever, and just look at one's photographs. Delve into to why some worked and others flopped. Turn off the phone. Take or don't take notes. Don't take input from others at this time. Just look.

    I made a set of 4x5 contact prints to take on a 8 month bicycle trip (w. 4x5). I meant just to be able to show folks the type of work I did and what the redwoods are like. I got the flu and was stuck in a tent for a week of rain...the only thing I could do was sleep and look at those 20 or so prints. I think it is the only time that the flu, in hindsight, was a good thing to have happened.
     
  26. jtk

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    ...or DO use flash and learn what it can do.
     
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