Why are photographers so "fussy"?

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Cholentpot

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momus - I don't know what kind of germ-free plexiglas bubble you live in. Painters don't fuss over things, or argue over medium issues? Heck, Manet got into a sword duel with another painter due to a technique philosophy debate. And they were both Impressionists. Factor in competing schools of painting, and things have often gotten nasty for centuries. Then add in art critics fishing for attention, and it really gets interesting. I was just given a lovely picture book and biography of Georgia O'Keefe's work, which included quotes from certain art critics of her time who utterly trashed her style and brushwork as worthless. She had outspoken strong opinions of her own. The art world is inherently contentious. They have strong individual perspectives and argue over even brushes, just like house painters. Even concrete workers argue over which trowel or float is best. Why should photography be any different?

Prior to retirement, one of my job roles was distributing one of the largest selections of true high-end power tools in the country (not the kinds of toys Cheapo Depot sells). Craftsmen, cabinet shops, and contractors had differing strong opinions and reasons for those differences. That's why a real selection was necessary. Surfboard makers would even fly in from the Hawaiian Islands; and I once had to break up a fight in the line between two of them due to diametrically different philosophies. California-style synthetic board makers were performance and production oriented, and that dictated their tools. Traditional long board makers had an almost Zen meditative mentality to how they both made boards of native trees, and how they surfed. And both schools outright despised those who made uber-expensive furniture-style boards meant to be hung above mantles in rich collectors vacation homes. Just one example among many.

I'm gonna agree with this here. I'm involved in other hobbies aside from photography. The level of fussiness and obsessing over gear is incredible. Go as a guitarist what strings they prefer, or a woodwind player about their reeds, a bicyclist about their tires and an R/C flyers about their propellers.

Photographers are not unique.
 

jtk

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Vaugn's made a valid point, IMO.

However I'm on the brink of concluding that photographers are not "artists" and that our work isn't "art." I think Job #1 is to make images that connect in some way, no matter how insignificantly.

Most of my own photography has been drifting away from "easy to label" but my most gratifying recently has been a technically well-done inkjet print of my digital photo of Comb Ridge, in Utah.

Filling the frame with enough of the 90(?) mile long ridge to support the archaeological story was tough, and only somebody who knew that story would see more than a geological reality, so it's important to let people know what they're seeing. Otherwise they'll miss the point.

It more-or-less connects Bears Ears with Chaco Canyon, which is/was a big deal to the "Anazasi" people, who (it's thought) lit fires along that ridge to communicate from group to group across that vast distance.
 

jtk

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I would suggest that what you are describing extends outside of photography and is easily observed in other endeavors and IMO it is largely a male thing.
That "male thing" dominates Photrio, but in my world half of the people are women, and most of them make photographs.

It would probably be correct to say film photography is nearly exclusively an elderly male thing.
 

MattKing

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Vaugn's made a valid point, IMO.

However I'm on the brink of concluding that photographers are not "artists" and that our work isn't "art." I think Job #1 is to make images that connect in some way, no matter how insignificantly.

Most of my own photography has been drifting away from "easy to label" but my most gratifying recently has been a technically well-done inkjet print of my digital photo of Comb Ridge, in Utah.

Filling the frame with enough of the 90(?) mile long ridge to support the archaeological story was tough, and only somebody who knew that story would see more than a geological reality, so it's important to let people know what they're seeing. Otherwise they'll miss the point.

It more-or-less connects Bears Ears with Chaco Canyon, which is/was a big deal to the "Anazasi" people, who (it's thought) lit fires along that ridge to communicate from group to group across that vast distance.

Most photographers aren't artists, most of the time. Just as most musicians, painters, potters, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers aren't artists, most of the time.
But a very, very small percentage of each are artists, much of the time.
However, each and every one of the above can make some art, from time to time, because the medium they create things in is capable of making art. Whether they do make art, is up to them and happenstance.
 

MattKing

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That "male thing" dominates Photrio, but in my world half of the people are women, and most of them make photographs.

It would probably be correct to say film photography is nearly exclusively an elderly male thing.

In your environment that may be the case. There is a whole bunch of different environments out there, and very little consistency between them.
The photographic mainstream is like a river, which used to be large, deep, and full of film based users.
It is now large, mostly fast and shallow, and mostly not film based.
But there are still eddies and shadowed obstructions, where the film based photographers rest before continuing their journey. And of course some of those film based photograph are old, and many of those old photographers are male.
 

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Even good intentions aren’t enough in the painting world but unintended consequences might be OK:

“Botched Restoration of Jesus Fresco Miraculously Saves Spanish Town”


The Spanish painter maybe had good intentions but little talent. The painter I saw in the Mona Lisa documentary was actually pretty accomplished in the style he usually painted. But he failed pretty badly at using Da Vinci’s techniques.
 

Pieter12

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I have a friend who is a painter and was told by a consultant/appraiser that the quality of his professionally made aluminum stretchers and canvas not only added value by legitimacy to his work, as well as the particular paints he used.
 

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Poor girl at a coffee shop I go to. I gave her my work record to take on an adventure, was showing her how to load it, and another customer came in and saw. Asked her about it, told me he was a pro, spotted my other camera, and started telling me about his gear and what he used in the film days...

Girl is standing by the register, waiting to take the guy's order and finish playing with the camera, but he kept "just a sec..." ing her as he had to finish this story or that about the F3 (which I had on me) and how he used it and when he went to an F5 and everything. She was trying so hard to be polite, eyes darting back and forth betwen us, not sure what was going on, but dammit that guy had to tell me EVERYTHING.

In his defense, I did note out of the corner of her eye she quietly snapped an instagram photo of the work record to send to a buddy. She's the same, just has fewer years of being excited about the gear to express.

Ramblers were never popular as automobiles, so I learned long ago not to ramble. :wink:
 

Sirius Glass

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I'm gonna agree with this here. I'm involved in other hobbies aside from photography. The level of fussiness and obsessing over gear is incredible. Go as a guitarist what strings they prefer, or a woodwind player about their reeds, a bicyclist about their tires and an R/C flyers about their propellers.

Photographers are not unique.

Some bicyclists are quite willing to point out to everyone how superior they are to everyone else because the ride their bicycles.
 

Sirius Glass

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In your environment that may be the case. There is a whole bunch of different environments out there, and very little consistency between them.
The photographic mainstream is like a river, which used to be large, deep, and full of film based users.
It is now large, mostly fast and shallow, and mostly not film based.
But there are still eddies and shadowed obstructions, where the film based photographers rest before continuing their journey. And of course some of those film based photograph are old, and many of those old photographers are male.

Are you waxing eloquent in your old age?
 

VinceInMT

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Some bicyclists are quite willing to point out to everyone how superior they are to everyone else because the ride their bicycles.

Setting up pecking orders seems to be part of the human condition. In the art world, the top of the heap tends to be those who paint with oil or do bronzes. I asked one of my art professors where drawing, my preferred practice, fits in and she said at the bottom since that’s what gets painted over. Pretty funny.

And, that pecking order is also tied to conspicuous consumption. My ‘83 Volvo wagon gets me everywhere I want to go and has for well-over 35 years but my friends who drive Porsches have a different attitude about such things.

I am a very avid baker of artisan breads and when I remodeled my kitchen I bought the least expensive stove I could find that had a convection oven, around $400. It works great. A friend bought a European import stove of some kind that cost over $10,000. The bread out of that oven isn’t any better than mine.

But this is what keeps the economy going so I’m all for it.
 

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Cholentpot

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Some bicyclists are quite willing to point out to everyone how superior they are to everyone else because the ride their bicycles.

I got trashed because I dared to fit a kickstand to my bike.

Turns out they were right but that's not the point.

Setting up pecking orders seems to be part of the human condition. In the art world, the top of the heap tends to be those who paint with oil or do bronzes. I asked one of my art professors where drawing, my preferred practice, fits in and she said at the bottom since that’s what gets painted over. Pretty funny.

And, that pecking order is also tied to conspicuous consumption. My ‘83 Volvo wagon gets me everywhere I want to go and has for well-over 35 years but my friends who drive Porsches have a different attitude about such things.

I am a very avid baker of artisan breads and when I remodeled my kitchen I bought the least expensive stove I could find that had a convection oven, around $400. It works great. A friend bought a European import stove of some kind that cost over $10,000. The bread out of that oven isn’t any better than mine.

But this is what keeps the economy going so I’m all for it.

Hello fellow baker.

I downgraded from a $30k oven in a professional setting, back to the 'ol Dutch oven. Hope to get back into the bakery at some point.

I did build a steam injector out of copper pipes and a pressure cooker back in the day. Lot's of fun. Kind of crazy. Bread came out great.
 

VinceInMT

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I downgraded from a $30k oven in a professional setting, back to the 'ol Dutch oven. Hope to get back into the bakery at some point.

I did build a steam injector out of copper pipes and a pressure cooker back in the day. Lot's of fun. Kind of crazy. Bread came out great.

Yep, I use a Dutch oven as well and have seen those set ups where they inject steam with a modified pressure cooker. I’ve thought about it but the Dutch oven works pretty well. However, I am looking at the ones where they are inverted, that is, where the bottom is flat and the lid is bulbous. I think they are called a “double dutch oven” like the one Lodge makes. It allows the loaf to be more easily loaded without risk of deflating it in the process.
 

Vaughn

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Some bicyclists are quite willing to point out to everyone how superior they are to everyone else because the ride their bicycles.

And I am sure many of the car drivers passing me on the highway in the rain as we all commuted to work took one look at me and thought, "Hmmmmm...DUI?"
 

Cholentpot

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Yep, I use a Dutch oven as well and have seen those set ups where they inject steam with a modified pressure cooker. I’ve thought about it but the Dutch oven works pretty well. However, I am looking at the ones where they are inverted, that is, where the bottom is flat and the lid is bulbous. I think they are called a “double dutch oven” like the one Lodge makes. It allows the loaf to be more easily loaded without risk of deflating it in the process.

I just make a sling out of parchment paper. Makes lowering it into the pot easy.
 

eli griggs

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I've been making images for well over half a century. Before photography, I did etchings, block prints, paintings, all that. Still do. Photographers are different than artists though, no matter what your definition of the word artist may be. Other than the usual categories like print, original vs multiples, silkscreen vs drypoint, etc, no one really cares about how an image was made. It's just about the image.

But photography is full of specious definitions and categories. 35mm, MF, LF, Ultra LF, digital, traditional, hybrid, wet plate, and on and on. Why? Isn't it always about whether or not the image works for someone, or doesn't? I truly don't understand why it is this way, and I've been taking photos for decades. The viewer doesn't care either. So why do we?

I had an "interesting" discussion w/ someone on this subject in the AIRBNB where we're staying. One of the other guest asked me, what were you and so and so arguing about, it seemed pretty heated? I replied, believe it or not, it was about digital vs film. They just looked at me like I was an idiot. Maybe because it IS idiotic.

Why should a subject like this result in people drawing lines in the sand? Everyone here know what happens when this subject comes up too. It almost always leads to a big argument. Does anyone think that painters fuss over whether a work is made w/ oil based oil paint, or the newer water based oil paints? That never, ever happens. People are only concerned about the image, and secondarily how it was made. I think as photographers we're very insecure, deep inside. Why, I don't know, but I can't think of any other reason. It's stupid, isn't it? No one ever says, oh, you're working in fresco? That is SO old fashioned. SO old school. They say, great piece. Or, I hate it, what WERE you thinking when you did that? You know, they have relevant comments. To dismiss a work because of the medium that it's in is beyond dumb.

The Arts of Easel Painting, most of sculpture, etc have a limited and shallow dialog of how too's, technically approaches in styles and materials exclusive to their practices.

Photographers have many more people whom have established 'de rigor' formulas, equipment, lighting, chemicals, preferences and styles of approachments to visual realization of the image lain out before them and the final darkroom print, including the steps of processing and getting the mind's eye cooperation.

I am an artist and one of my artistic mediums is Analog Photography, it is a visual art form but it's often closer to computer programming than to a expressionist or impressionist painting, woodcut or sculpture, IMO.

Cheers
 

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There was a time, perhaps sometime in the 1970's to 1980's where amateur photographers who were a lot less in number than today. If you were any good in both taking a picture and then processing it you had to have knowledge and the ability to use it. Equipment was a lot more basic then and you had to know what you were doing. This was before the start of the automation we know now - and take for granted. A good move? I think the jury on both sides are still out on that.

There was little angst of how sharp their images were because it was a more level playing field. There wasn't the demand for the next high tech marvel that would eventually remove a lot of the necessary skill and understanding.

There wasn't the mad scramble to buy the latest and 'best' equipment to 'improve' their pictures when they were already in possession of the main tool to do what they think will be achieved with the latest gadget laden 'marvel'. I have a feeling that the only thing that was and still is improved by the constant sale of new and ever increasingly expensive 'toys' will be the bank balances of the manufacturers.

OK, I am one of those who has an almost up to date SLR a - Nikon D800. I bought it 2nd hand because I wanted a newer one and the price was right. But I very rarely use any of the vast array of tools this camera has installed in it's electrickery. I believe in keeping it simple I also have a selection of 35mm and 120 equipment some of which are quite basic. When I am taking pictures with one of these non electronic mechanical marvels, if only one of them hits the nail on the head I get far more satisfaction when that happens than most of the digital pictures I have taken electronically.

Even with analogue photography when it comes to processing there are those who think that unless they use a particular developer/paper/film/lens their efforts will be doomed to failure. Even then there is a number of people that who think that unless the technology unless it corresponds with graphs and information provided by the manufacturers they are doomed to failure. When it comes to actually taking photographs that should be fun and not something you do with the 'Vulture of Failure' permanently perched on your shoulder. I often wonder how many of those who say you should use this camera, that lens, that developer, that paper, actually get out there and take photographs or merely repeating what they have read, or are their pictures are only taken as an exercise of chemistry and not what photography is or was all about - as given in the original meaning of the word PHOTOGRAPHY. - Writing or drawing with light!
 

BMbikerider

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Yes very good🙂

I get far more sense of achievement when I use my Nikormat FT2 than I do with my D800 I admit I do take advantage of some of Nikon's AF lenses though, merely because I have them already (20/35 F2.8 AFD) (35/70 F2.8 AFD) and at the last chance saloon an (70/300 AFD). I don't need anything else.
 
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