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Philosophy of Photography Taking pics is one thing, but understanding why we take them, what they mean, what they are best used for, how they effect our reality -- all of these and more are important issues of the Philosophy of Photography. One of the best authors on the subject is Susan Sontag in her book "On Photography."

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having a little trouble here as a new photographer, sort of a depression of sorts...
Old 12-05-2011   #1
Hjortsberg
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having a little trouble here as a new photographer, sort of a depression of sorts...

I'll try to explain it the best I can:

Sometimes I see a picture and I reach for the camera and I think, "Well, someone else has shot this better then me so why bother?" This recently happened when I took a photo of a fork, knife, spoon and plate sitting on a local lunch counter. When the picture came back, well, it was a nice little photo. But William Eggleston has already done it. And better, mind you. I went walking around a local suburb looking for photos and they all seemed like Robert Adams photos. I got kinda really bummed out that day and haven't fully recovered.

Now please don't get preachy about the joy is in the process, because, you know I'm having a great time learning. It's funny how little I do know about photography. It makes me laugh, you know. And I'm at an age where I know fame, fortune, woman, parties, gallery shows, publication, etc will never, ever come my way. And with age and life experience I know that that is not what it's about. Please understand I'm not looking for that nor do I want it.

However, I've fallen into a depression and can't get out of it. I feel kinda sad going out shooting.

I don't know, you know...
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Old 12-05-2011   #2
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You're not alone I assure you. It's so easy to to feel that the train has left the station once you get to a certain age ... maybe it has?

Look back on other things/achievements that you are proud of and worry less about the future and how good or otherwise your photography skills may be!

It's one very small part of life!
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Old 12-05-2011   #3
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But you're not Bill Eggleston, right? So make the photos for yourself. There is no need to be original and there is no shame in being inspired by others who have gone before you and made photos of something beautiful which you may want to shoot. It's all only inspiration anyway since we all have our own unique point of view so yours is a perfectly fine and validated point of view to shoot from.
Hopefully you work it out soon. Myself and many other people have been in photo "funk" or a depressive state but I always find inspiration in something simple that I want to show, first to myself in the future, then to others. There's no need to downplay the importance of your contribution to the visual record of the world as we know know it.

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Old 12-05-2011   #4
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For me the pleasure in photography has to do with the unpredictability of it. I'm not sure what a good photograph is, but I'll know it when I see it. I try not to think too much while taking pictures. The images that I think will be interesting often seem contrived once I see them on the screen. The real winners are the ones that I just took, and turned out a certain way for no explainable reason.
Everything in photography has been done. You are recording life, and life repeats itself. It is the subtle variations that you need to be attuned to. That is where the interest is.
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Old 12-05-2011   #5
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keep shooting, this all comes from practice. I didn't get good till I'd been shooting for 12 years! Started as an 8 yr old kid with my dad's 35mm SLR.

Something else: find something that interests you and spend time on a longterm project documenting it. That'll help you develop your own vision and say something no one else has said.
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Old 12-05-2011   #6
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thanks guys.
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Old 12-05-2011   #7
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Find a story to tell. That story - and the views you bring to it - will be intrinsically personal and unique.

For me, that was shooting a series of portraits at Occupy Wallstreet. Instead of shooting more traditional protest or street photos, I consciously decided to walk up to people, as if I could take a photo and photograph whatever they did next after saying yes. I decided early on that the series would be focused on the diversity of the people there.

This was probably the first thought out, intentional series of photos I've taken like this. It was immensely satisfying to go in with a goal and and follow it through. It was also some of the better photography I've done in the last year.
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Old 12-05-2011   #8
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yeah, you're definitely not alone when it comes to the "why bother" feeling... i feel that way myself at times. it comes and goes. i wish i had some advice for you, but i have none. sometimes i go ahead and take the photo anyway and end up photoshopping more "uniqueness" into it, but i'm usually still dissatisfied. perhaps i should borrow some of the advice that others have given you here.
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Old 12-05-2011   #9
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Three years ago I tried to start a local photo club. Only two other guys joined (!), but about a dozen others joined the Flickr online only version (Miyazaki Photo Club).

One of those guys left for a job in Egypt. Now it's just Bill and me, but once a month or so we have fun hanging out in the nearby city, taking photos. Sometimes we have a theme. Sometimes we go somewhere different. Maybe finding a photo buddy is an idea to kickstart something.

Or join a local camera club.
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Old 12-05-2011   #10
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Agree.

The other day, I saw someone's signature with a quote to this effect -- "You cannot have a passion for photography. Photography is a tool to express your passion for something else"

A bit tacky, but its stuck in my head for some reason.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
keep shooting, this all comes from practice. I didn't get good till I'd been shooting for 12 years! Started as an 8 yr old kid with my dad's 35mm SLR.

Something else: find something that interests you and spend time on a longterm project documenting it. That'll help you develop your own vision and say something no one else has said.
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Old 12-05-2011   #11
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Here's my 2 cents.. The trouble with pictures of forks and knives is that those are just things, and that they have no emotional value for you. Instead, take pictures of the people around you and who matter to you. Those are the images that will make you feel better in the long run. And keep in mind; even if they're not perfect when you look at them now, they'll be in a couple of years time. By then it's the image only you have taken, and that those are moments in time that can't be redone by anyone..
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Old 12-05-2011   #12
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whatever you see in the viewfinder that you like is worth pressing the shutter.

FTW (F... The world)
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Old 12-05-2011   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anerjee View Post
Agree.

The other day, I saw someone's signature with a quote to this effect -- "You cannot have a passion for photography. Photography is a tool to express your passion for something else"

A bit tacky, but its stuck in my head for some reason.
Very true. For me, it is history. I have more than 2000 books, most of them history books, with a large number of photography and art books mixed in. I'm working on my MA in history, and will be finished next semester. I've been able to use my photography for projects done in some of my classes, to illustrate essays I've written and lectures that I've given.
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Old 12-05-2011   #14
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Wow man... get over yourself and just take the picture.

Then start a blogspot and post your most despicable images.

Don't tell anyone anything !

People will go head over heals for your stuff.
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Old 12-05-2011   #15
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I'd just like to support a couple of people who have already made these points but for me, the essential thing now is -

1. Take photos for what pleases you and don't worry yourself that somebody else might have done it "better". It's not a competition unless you make it one.
2. Select a project to work on. My best ideas have centred around producing a Blurb book on a subject or topic and I now have a number of these, including travel. The smallest has twelve pages. The largest, over 100. Some are colour, some just B&W and I generally try to present them one image per page. If you can envisage the end result - a book you can hold in your hand or show around, it's a much better driver to do something than envisaging ending up with a handful of loose prints, however good they are.
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Old 12-05-2011   #16
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I started to feel that way, I'd do a shoot with a model, have a good concept only to later find out it's been done. One model I worked with told me...

"Jeff, EVERYTHING has already been done, it's about YOUR version, now let's do our take on Helmut Newton's work".

And she was right. Look to others for inspiration, don't be shy about being inspired by someone else's ideas, you'll make it yours!

Last edited by ---f : 12-05-2011 at 23:17.
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Old 12-05-2011   #17
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looks like you have a problem - very good.
you have something you want to tell to people?
something that is making you depressed?
so tell it to us - tell it by photography.
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Old 12-06-2011   #18
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That's like saying that all humans are the same - they all have two arms, two legs, a torso and a head. Better not make another human, because it's been done before!
But each human is different, and each of us has a different way of looking at the world, a different life experience; but even so, we also all share many common threads in our lives - love, happiness, sadness, the death of loved ones, the wonder of seeing something beautiful and wanting to share it.
Don't downplay your own experiences just because others have had similar views. Making art is an intrinsic human quality, some have gifted ability, others learn and mature their vision only after time and practice. Even the gifted ones practice - have you ever seen early work by the great masters of art?
Keep shooting, keep thinking about what is important to you and what makes you stop and wonder, learn from others but don't be a slave to their technique, and you will get better at expressing yourself in your photographs. I want to see the world as YOU see it.
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Old 12-06-2011   #19
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If you see a shot just take it. I had your experience once long ago with Bill Brandt's nudes. I thought that I'd never take a nude shot after I'd seen his. However I did, and still do. They are nothing like his because I am taking them, not him. One can't afford to be over awed by others. Forget 'em and just fire away.
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Old 12-06-2011   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corto View Post
whatever you see in the viewfinder that you like is worth pressing the shutter.
Seconded.

Everyone is racked by self-doubt at times. If they're not, they're probably not much good at whatever they do, because they aren't being critical enough.

As for Eggleston -- well, seriously consider the possibility that you can take a better picture than Eggleston. Not everyone thinks that the sun shines out of his bum.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-06-2011   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anerjee View Post
Agree.

The other day, I saw someone's signature with a quote to this effect -- "You cannot have a passion for photography. Photography is a tool to express your passion for something else"

A bit tacky, but its stuck in my head for some reason.
Best quote on Photography i read in a long time! Thanks for stucking it in mu head too
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Old 12-06-2011   #22
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Look at more photographs. The gallery picks. Simonsawsunlight has a great thread here on photos with internal gestic quotations, now archived but accessible:
http://rangefinderforum.com/forums/p...d.php?&t=98115

I read an article in the one iPad issue of Leicafotografie I have seen on using the golden section to control spaces in a photograph. Try a new lens or an old one. I have had great fun recently learning to use a 21mm. I spent a day last year with my 135mm Tele-Elmar. Quite a challenge, maybe one good shot. That was enough.

Try capturing some nice light. Last year in late autumn I loved the low sun that lit the gravel beneath the trees at work. It wasn't a great composition but the gravel looked so granular and warm and contrasty. I printed it and put it on my pinboard and it was the most commented on photo of the lot.

I have once taken a few shots sure that there was a film in the camera but there wasn't. I have wondered about the photos that will never come out and wonder also about shuffling the cameras and risking taking one out again with no film in it, deliberately. The pain of those missing shots will make you value your effort and vision more.
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Old 12-06-2011   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anerjee View Post

The other day, I saw someone's signature with a quote to this effect -- "You cannot have a passion for photography. Photography is a tool to express your passion for something else"

A bit tacky, but its stuck in my head for some reason.
I dont know about tacky, but it denies the artistic dimension of photography. Looking at RFF's Barnwulf's exteriors and their compositional order might suggest a passion for galvanized iron but it is form and light that are the inspiration. Photography doesn't have to be in the service of something else.
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Old 12-06-2011   #24
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I know the feeling - taking out the camera, and then... no. But it is a threshold that you have to get over, making the photograph, and then another one, even if it feels like isn't the best you've ever made.

"Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working" - Pablo Picasso

And who knows, looking back at the contact sheet a few weeks later, maybe you'll see something new in it, or giving you a new idea for another photograph.
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Old 12-06-2011   #25
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I'd give up altogether if mimicking Eggleston were the goal ...
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