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What Makes It MY Photo?

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momech View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote momech Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 January 2018 at 22:25
I've heard there's only 7 different plots to stories, only 5 distinct forms of music, etc. etc.. Doesn't leave a lot of room for being "original".
Visual artists of all kinds use others' techniques for their own work, usually as accumulated knowledge, sometimes as a "tribute". Comedians appropriate material shamelessly. So do "motivational" speakers. And on and on.
So maybe I'm building on someone else's work. But I'm the one looks through the view finder - or at the monitor - and decides when to press the shutter. So, for good or bad - in the end, it's mine.    
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sybersitizen View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote sybersitizen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 January 2018 at 23:31
Originally posted by momech momech wrote:

I've heard there's only 7 different plots to stories ...

Ron Howard thinks there might only be one story. A rather odd statement; maybe he explains it in his MasterClass.
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waldo_posth View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote waldo_posth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 January 2018 at 23:41
Hmm, the saying goes: We can see further/more (or find our own views in the viewfinder) because we are dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants. But not everybody will subscribe to that theory of "cultural accumulation". I do not want to pygmyfy myself. But there is, of course, the recently discovered phenomenon of "dwarfism" - its causes and consequences are far from understood.
"Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." (Walker Evans)   http://www.flickr.com/photos/waldo_posth/
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Miranda F View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Miranda F Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 January 2018 at 12:02
Originally posted by sybersitizen sybersitizen wrote:

Originally posted by Miranda F Miranda F wrote:

I would probably delete several of the pictures you've taken! ... you can snap away anywhere you like without much thought (as it appears you did, if you will excuse me being rude!), but to create an image worth looking at usually needs some thought.

I appreciate your candor. I might need to clarify that I didn't post these examples as representative of my best work, and although I do enjoy looking at them, I fully acknowledge that many viewers will be unimpressed with their artistic value. Also, as I originally said, I feel much more confident in claiming a larger stake of 'ownership' of photos in situations where I preconceive the whole thing and construct it to my own specifications.

I certainly didn't mean to suggest you *always* take pictures without thinking about it, btw , but was responding to your own comments.

Originally posted by sybersitizen sybersitizen wrote:


In any case, the separate idea that thought matters in photography is worthwhile to consider. I don't even remember taking #3 at all; but is that so bad? Considering that I've been doing photography since the 1970s and have probably performed something in the neighborhood of 100,000 shutter releases over that time, I suppose in many cases my decision to release the shutter today can be largely automatic and almost subconscious. In traditional arts like painting and poetry, the flow of the subconscious with as little interference as possible from the filter of conscious thought is often valued highly. Why not with photography?


Interesting point. I'll readily admit I've taken a lot of boring pics since 1970 or so, in the early years because I didn't know any better and more recently because I take less care now with digital than I used to. Once I had worked out how to get nice looking 5x7" prints of holiday scenes, I got a pretty high keeper rate until I realised that the style & tricks I used (while good for the genre) were becoming too similar and unoriginal, and it was the digital medium that allowed me to experiment a lot more.

Edited by Miranda F - 10 January 2018 at 12:05
Miranda F & Sensorex, Sony A58, 5d, Dynax 4, 5, 60, 500si/600si/700si/800si, various Sony & Minolta lenses, several Tamrons, lots of MF primes and *far* too many old film cameras . . .
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PMac View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote PMac Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 January 2018 at 23:14
Since you’ve opened pandoras’s box of philosophy I’ll have a go.

I think there are many layers to this question some of which have already been answered. The most straightforward – though not entirely simple – question of legal ownership of the artefact (physical or digital, real or intellectual) has been covered enough already so I wont go there.

More interesting are the deeper layers of the question such as where is the line (if any) between artist and craftsman, creator and curator, originator and transformer, your view of your input/others view/the way society rewards your input. These are questions that have been around for at least a couple of thousand years and we haven’t landed on a final answer yet. Rather as circumstances change and time marches on the answers constantly shift. Not to mention that historically there have been wide cultural variations in the role of, and credit given to, the creators of what we might call ‘intellectual property’ (and hence some cultures celebrating it, others denying its very existence).

That said, I think some introspection and consideration of what we, as photographers, are contributing to the images we put into the world is helpful because it makes us think about what we are doing - which is generally a good thing.

Dragging this pondering back to your instance. The photos were taken using an industrial instrument with high levels of automation and very abstract methods for converting the scene into an image largely outside your direct control. Therefore the ‘craft’ in your images is pretty low. Similarly your images are largely ‘found’ – not only did you not create them, their basic positioning, orientation, alignment, lighting etc was largely set by others . The artistic input is primarily reduced to framing and perspective (not insignificant) and post capture tweaking (again not insignificant) which has little feeling of creativity or originality.

However, in a world where the production of images (in fact, the production of anything) is so automated and industrialised that literally millions of real and/or virtual images can be churned out by people simply snapping away randomly and slapping on a preset filter on whats the real value of creativity and originality? This is a question at the core of contemporary art.

Perhaps here and now the real skill of the artist is not in creating an original image but in curating and transforming the images that one has. I would argue that as the person who selected and interpreted those images from the millions available (or even just the couple of hundred on your memory card) you’ve done work to make them yours. By holding them up and separating them from the pack you’ve done something truly valuable and deserving of ‘credit’ (to the extent you did that well) because in the absence of that we the viewers are stuck with looking at hundreds of images that are just dross.

So in deciding if these are ‘your photographs’ you are right to explore the extent or limits of your input into the image and whie we will have out personal takes only you can make an answer that will satisfy you. However, I would stree that you shouldnt discount the value of the task of seeing the value in an image and drawing others attention to the image.

After all, to paraphrase a photography truism – the secret to being a great photographer is to not show people your bad photos.
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Atom Ant View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Atom Ant Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 January 2018 at 11:23
Interesting thread. As I read through it I was composing a post starting along the lines "I think we can all agree...". And then I got to PMac's post. Erudite certainly. And thought provoking. But I hold a different view on some points.

Originally posted by PMac PMac wrote:

Dragging this pondering back to your instance. The photos were taken using an industrial instrument with high levels of automation and very abstract methods for converting the scene into an image largely outside your direct control. Therefore the ‘craft’ in your images is pretty low. Similarly your images are largely ‘found’ – not only did you not create them, their basic positioning, orientation, alignment, lighting etc was largely set by others . The artistic input is primarily reduced to framing and perspective (not insignificant) and post capture tweaking (again not insignificant) which has little feeling of creativity or originality.

Why? I cannot see that using a paint brush (e.g.) is in a whole different league of creativity compared to using a camera. Yes, there's more physical dexterity/technique in painting, but that doesn't make it more creative in my book.

I concede that we have less control over some aspects of our work than do some other fields. But I don't see that as important. Would you say that a fugue is less creative than atonal music?

EDIT: To be clear, I think many photographers have undue insecurity about our status vis a vis the traditional visual arts. I think that's profoundly misplaced on multiple levels. Which doesn't mean that I aspire to being considered an Artist - quite the opposite.

Originally posted by PMac PMac wrote:

However, in a world where the production of images (in fact, the production of anything) is so automated and industrialised that literally millions of real and/or virtual images can be churned out by people simply snapping away randomly and slapping on a preset filter on whats the real value of creativity and originality? This is a question at the core of contemporary art.

Perhaps here and now the real skill of the artist is not in creating an original image but in curating and transforming the images that one has. [snip]

I really think you understate the difficulty of what we do. Compare your friends photos on Facebook to what we see here under Open Views. Much as I like them, no amount of curating would save the photos of most of my friends!

To look at it another way, most of the kudos for the Weekly Galleries here are extended to the photographers not the A&Ms.

Feel free to disagree!

Edited by Atom Ant - 11 January 2018 at 12:00
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MediaArchivist View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote MediaArchivist Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 January 2018 at 12:01
Originally posted by PMac PMac wrote:

...
After all, to paraphrase a photography truism – the secret to being a great photographer is to not show people your bad photos.

I don't know about "great," but I certainly think there is something to that. I do mostly concert photography, and getting good shots involves:
  • Experience (what works and what does not)
  • Access (media pass or nods from the security detail)
  • Reputation

The first of these is (roughly) skill at photography. The rest is tangential. Not posting shots where one of the musicians in the background is picking their nose seems like common sense, but I see a lot of photographers do just that. Not posting all 300 shots of one band from one gig, instead of culling it down to the 20 best (there is a certain skill to the culling process). The result is when a musician sees you in the photog pit, they smile and work with you.

It makes a difference.
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PMac View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote PMac Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 January 2018 at 23:20
Atom,

I dont disagree with what you've said. However, I think our point of difference is that I dont believe there is - or ever can be - one answer to the question "what makes this my photo" as posed in the OP. In short, to return to your opening stanza - no, I dont think we can say "I think we all agree .....".

Each of us has to figure out for ourselves how we balance craft, creativity, transformation, creation, curation in our internal debate over the credit we will award ourselves (or others) in the context on each and every image we put out there.




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Photosopher View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Photosopher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 January 2018 at 00:27
Originally posted by PMac PMac wrote:

– the secret to being a great photographer is to not show people your bad photos.


I just finished a model critique, where the girl sits down and we go over everything shot by shot.

She got to see all of my good photos, and... all of her bad ones.
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Miranda F View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Miranda F Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 January 2018 at 22:02
Originally posted by Photosopher Photosopher wrote:

Originally posted by PMac PMac wrote:

– the secret to being a great photographer is to not show people your bad photos.


I just finished a model critique, where the girl sits down and we go over everything shot by shot.

She got to see all of my good photos, and... all of her bad ones.


Heh, heh, heh! Is she sophisticated enough to distinguish your failings from hers?
Miranda F & Sensorex, Sony A58, 5d, Dynax 4, 5, 60, 500si/600si/700si/800si, various Sony & Minolta lenses, several Tamrons, lots of MF primes and *far* too many old film cameras . . .
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Photosopher View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Photosopher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 January 2018 at 03:37
I only pick on the new ones. Gives them incentive to get more camera time, and improve portfolio. Win win.

The experienced (sophisticated) models are wise to my wise cracks, and busy working from the portfolio of our photos we created together.

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