Go Back   Rangefinderforum.com > Rangefinder Forum > Philosophy of Photography

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."

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes

Old 12-06-2011   #51
barnwulf
Registered User
 
barnwulf's Avatar
 
barnwulf is offline
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Posts: 1,145
A lot of responses here. If you get back this far you need to understand that everyone has been the same place that you are. There are no shortcuts and you will never figure this out just by thinking about it. You have to shoot photographs. Will they be bad, probably a lot of them will. Will you be satisfied, probably not. You will learn something from it and it will improve if you keep at it. As someone else suggested, look at a lot of different photographers and if there is one that you like a lot try to shoot some things like they do. It will be a place to start and you will work your way through it all and you will eventually be shooting things that are yours. Photograph something that you like to look at. Shoot lots of pictures of whatever that is from all angles and under different lighting conditions. You will figure it all out and you will be on your way. You can't worry about what others think. Get in a photography class and give that a try. Show your work here and see what others say. There is a lot of help here on RFF. Just shoot some things and post them. Good luck and keep at it. Jim
__________________
"Basically, I no longer work for anything but the sensation I have while working."
- Alberto Giacometti (sculptor)
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-06-2011   #52
jarski
Registered User
 
jarski is online now
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,939
dont have very concrete advice, but guess a vision or some theme in mind before taking camera in hand is helpful, to get photos that people who dont know you, might like. narrower theme, more helpful.

personally, biggest inflation of my photos happens in period from previous month, to past five years, older ones start to be interesting again as reminders of life lived.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-06-2011   #53
isoterica
Registered User
 
isoterica is offline
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 187
If you look at photos in a broader sense there really is little that you can do that someone hasn't done before you but if you consider, for example, a photography group all lined up to shoot a sunset over the ocean, even though they are all shooting the same thing each one will bring to it their own perspective.

Photography is more about the photographer than what he is photographing particularly when you are photographing something with meaning. You interpret it with your eyes, you capture it with the camera and you convey it to your viewers as you saw it, not as it was.

Consider this, even if you are feeling depressed about your work as I am similarly right now, that tone will bleed through your images as well and bring to them something unique. You.. really can't fail though not everyone will necessarily associate with your vision and it might look a little like so-and-so or whats-his-name.

Emulating an artist to learn how to take better photos will eventually evolve into your own unique style, it can't help but to. Accidentally mirroring another photographer means nothing more than you are at that moment in time on a similar path. It's kinda like walking down the sidewalk and turning left. The other might turn right but you both started out going straight and it's okay to see the same or similar things.

You will evolve is what it comes down to and we all have emotional moments whether we are elated on reviewing something magnificent we have captured or lamenting that everything we do seems tired, overdone, uninteresting.

A suggestion might be to change cameras for a while. Camera's have auras. You will shoot differently with a fixed focal length film camera than a telephoto on a dslr. You will shoot differently with a macro lens than you will a lensbaby. Another suggestion is concentrate on shooting only people's hands.. or on dogs.. or on flowers peeling away one petal at a time. Concentrating on one general subject [though always take a shot of whatever else spectacular might come up] teaches you to look at that more deeply, more creatively.

And as others have suggested joining a group might give you some companionship as well as inspiration. Don't let these temporary feelings make you give up what you love to do though. In life, sometimes we have to muddle through and it isn't easy but as I said even if you are feeling glum you can still crank out some amazing work.

There is a great group of people here to support you too.. see how many responses you got? You'll move beyond it.. so will I
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-06-2011   #54
mathomas
Registered User
 
mathomas's Avatar
 
mathomas is offline
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 645
Having a project helps me. Check out the "100 Strangers" project on flickr. It's helping me get comfortable with shooting people, and especially people I don't know.


100 strangers: philip (1/100) by mike thomas, on Flickr
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-06-2011   #55
Saganich
Registered User
 
Saganich's Avatar
 
Saganich is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 10
[quote=Hjortsberg;1762690]I'll try to explain it the best I can:

Sometimes I see a picture....

You can only see a picture after shooting, developing, printing, framing, and hanging. There is a whole lot conscious and unconscious processing that goes into an image, seeing is only the first step. Know if your visualizing and only conjuring up these other known works and artists then welcome to the club. It's time to dig deep and figure out what really matters in your life. Then you will see things within your own context.

CS
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-06-2011   #56
ian
Registered User
 
ian is offline
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 15
Ask yourself WHY you want to take a particular photo or perhaps why you want to do photography at all! I doubt it is jthe process of "focusing and firing" in and of itself. It may be the need to fulfill a creative need or to record a special moment, person or place in time. Whatever the reason is it is YOUR reason, YOUR photo, YOUR experience and THAT makes it worthwhile because no matter what, no one else has done it exactly the way you have!!!!
__________________
<a href='http://www.rangefinderforum.com/photopost/showgallery.php?cat=500&ppuser=287'>My Gallery</a>
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-06-2011   #57
charjohncarter
Registered User
 
charjohncarter's Avatar
 
charjohncarter is offline
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Danville, CA, USA
Posts: 6,419
We all go through this. But like Andrew Wythe said, 'you have to go out everyday and paint.' I don't know if you develop your own film, but that really makes a psychological difference. You are really involved with everything. When you get it down, even a picture of freeway can be a winner. Also buy a good hand meter (personally I would pay more for a good meter than a camera), because now you are totally connected to your images. Any mistake are down to you.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-06-2011   #58
Hjortsberg
Registered User
 
Hjortsberg is offline
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by ian View Post
Ask yourself WHY you want to take a particular photo or perhaps why you want to do photography at all! I doubt it is jthe process of "focusing and firing" in and of itself. It may be the need to fulfill a creative need or to record a special moment, person or place in time. Whatever the reason is it is YOUR reason, YOUR photo, YOUR experience and THAT makes it worthwhile because no matter what, no one else has done it exactly the way you have!!!!
thanks, man. that's right. that's exactly right. Thank you all
  Reply With Quote

Here's what I figured out... works for me.....
Old 12-06-2011   #59
kuzano
Registered User
 
kuzano is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,727
Here's what I figured out... works for me.....

It may be true to say "everything has been shot".... Why should I duplicate all that work?

Well, the far bigger revelation is that "NOT ALL THOSE IMAGES HAVE BEEN SEEN"!!!!!!!!!!!

Part of that revelation is in first realizing that although everything has been shot, you haven't seen everything captured on film or digitally.

Another part of that revelation is that the majority of the people who see your work HAVE NOT seen any of the other variations of the same subject....

It's true... Buck Up and shoot. Do your own thing.

Last edited by kuzano : 12-07-2011 at 16:41.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-07-2011   #60
one90guy
Registered User
 
one90guy's Avatar
 
one90guy is offline
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Texas Gulf Coast
Age: 66
Posts: 277
I went through a very low period, 2007 I became disabled. One day while sitting around feeling sorry for myself, I went to the closet and dug out my old film camera. I tried to take images like I saw in the magazines and online. It did not take long to see I was no where close. So I just started clicking on anything that caught my eye and I started seeing images that I liked. When you have the urge go out and use the camera.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-07-2011   #61
Gary Briggs
mamiyaDude
 
Gary Briggs is offline
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Ohio
Posts: 91
these are some of the most interesting responses i have ever seen on rff.
I agree with pvdhaar, peoples faces (I think b/w is best) are never boring, and you don't have to feel you are an 'artist' to enjoy them (and w/others).
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-07-2011   #62
oftheherd
Registered User
 
oftheherd's Avatar
 
oftheherd is offline
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 6,729
Quote:
Originally Posted by isoterica View Post
...

Emulating an artist to learn how to take better photos will eventually evolve into your own unique style, it can't help but to. Accidentally mirroring another photographer means nothing more than you are at that moment in time on a similar path. It's kinda like walking down the sidewalk and turning left. The other might turn right but you both started out going straight and it's okay to see the same or similar things.


...
Making photos similar to what you have seen, but with your own particular style is fine.

And if you don't like what you get when you try, look for the differences. Try to recognize them, and then try to correct them. You will get better and define your style more and more.

Enjoy.
__________________
<a href='http://www.rangefinderforum.com/photopost/showgallery.php?cat=500&ppuser=50'>My Gallery</a>
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-07-2011   #63
The Meaness
Registered User
 
The Meaness's Avatar
 
The Meaness is offline
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: MD, USA
Age: 30
Posts: 245
You will always be at a loss if you concentrate on measuring up to an invisible standard. Adams was not standing where you stood in that suburb. What you see today is unique, and there is a unique way to capture it. If you create an invisible ladder in your head you must climb to be "relevant" then you'll miss the obvious.

I don't think I ever pulled off a decent shot while thinking "will this measure up to _____?" I'm also sure my work is easy for more talented people to look down on. At the end of the day, I can still get caught up in the moment, find excitement/interest/humor/passion in the frame, and make something that has a chance at passable (but very exciting to me). Afterward I get critical and ask the hard questions, how should I have changed this? Was it worth a frame?

Be critical after you take the shot, not before.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-07-2011   #64
Roger Hicks
Registered User
 
Roger Hicks is offline
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Aquitaine
Posts: 20,152
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Meaness View Post
You will always be at a loss if you concentrate on measuring up to an invisible standard. Adams was not standing where you stood in that suburb. What you see today is unique, and there is a unique way to capture it. If you create an invisible ladder in your head you must climb to be "relevant" then you'll miss the obvious.

I don't think I ever pulled off a decent shot while thinking "will this measure up to _____?" I'm also sure my work is easy for more talented people to look down on. At the end of the day, I can still get caught up in the moment, find excitement/interest/humor/passion in the frame, and make something that has a chance at passable (but very exciting to me). Afterward I get critical and ask the hard questions, how should I have changed this? Was it worth a frame?

Be critical after you take the shot, not before.
Brilliant! I'll steal that one!

Cheers,

R.
__________________
Now even more free photography information on www.rogerandfrances.com
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-07-2011   #65
jippiejee
Registered User
 
jippiejee's Avatar
 
jippiejee is offline
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 728
I like to think of all the elements in a photograph as words. Yes, they've all been spoken before, or printed. Even today. Yet new poetry can be written every day.
__________________
flickr
flickriver
---
Leica M4-P/M8/M9
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-07-2011   #66
kbg32
neo-romanticist
 
kbg32's Avatar
 
kbg32 is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: New York, New York
Posts: 4,773
I had a teacher many years ago say - "think of depression, as digestion of your highs". It has always helped me.

BTW, quite possibly your depression might be related to something else. Photography in and of itsef, should not make you depressed. It never hurts to talk to someone.... meaning a therapist.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-07-2011   #67
d_ross
Registered User
 
d_ross is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: New Zealand Sth Island
Posts: 539
Anyone feeling this way about photography, assuming of course that photography is the right medium for their personal expression, should read the book, 'The ongoing moment' by Geoff Dyer! in fact anyone with an interest in photography should read it if they haven't done so already.
__________________
www.gallery464.co.nz
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-07-2011   #68
d_ross
Registered User
 
d_ross is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: New Zealand Sth Island
Posts: 539
It is an outsiders look at photography, as Dyer says he never takes photographs.

I think the book is interesting because discusses how all photographers are to some degree the same person, that we are all attracted to the same things, or very similar things, hence the title of the book. So perhaps anyone suffering the feeling that this has been done so why should I do it, should benefit by seeing the time line that created so many great images, and the understanding that whilst it may have been done before, every doing of it is part of the history of the medium. I think it's worth persevering with!
__________________
www.gallery464.co.nz
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-07-2011   #69
Teuthida
-
 
Teuthida is offline
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 638
Find subjects that mean something to you... and avoid the picturesque. You'll be fine.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-07-2011   #70
Hjortsberg
Registered User
 
Hjortsberg is offline
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by d_ross View Post
Anyone feeling this way about photography, assuming of course that photography is the right medium for their personal expression, should read the book, 'The ongoing moment' by Geoff Dyer! in fact anyone with an interest in photography should read it if they haven't done so already.
thanks for alerting me to this book. going to order it tommorrow
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-07-2011   #71
Rob-F
Old School
 
Rob-F's Avatar
 
Rob-F is offline
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: The Show Me state
Posts: 3,489
I think it is best to not compare ourselves to others. The right comparison is to oneself. I work to be a little better each day than I was the day before. And just as no one bothers to try writing another Beethoven symphony or paint another Monet water lilies triptych (because they have already been done), there is no point in taking another Eggleston picture. You have your own style, even if you don't yet know what it is, and even if it's not fully evolved yet. So I think you should work in your own unique way.
__________________
"If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got."

--Variously attributed to Moms Maybley, Mark Twain, etc.
  Reply With Quote

This Is A Great Thread!
Old 12-08-2011   #72
Jamie Pillers
Skeptic
 
Jamie Pillers's Avatar
 
Jamie Pillers is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Oakland, California
Posts: 3,181
This Is A Great Thread!

This thread represents what I come to RFF for. Thanks to everyone that contribute ideas to RFF that inspire!
__________________
Talk to a stranger today.

Ricoh GR; Nikon 1 V3; D600; Speed Graphic; Polaroid 250
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2011   #73
d_ross
Registered User
 
d_ross is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: New Zealand Sth Island
Posts: 539
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hjortsberg View Post
thanks for alerting me to this book. going to order it tommorrow
I think you will enjoy it, I have read it in it's entirety a few times now, and often refer back to parts of it.

it is one of a number of books I constantly refer to for both inspiration and understanding, another really good book in this respect is the small

"Magnum Landscape" ISBN 0-7148-3642-7

This is a book full of the very best of the types of pictures we all take, whether full time artist's or holiday snap makers. I often take this book with me on trips away, it's small size but packed full of great stuff.
__________________
www.gallery464.co.nz
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-10-2011   #74
Richard G
Registered User
 
Richard G's Avatar
 
Richard G is offline
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: 37,47 S
Posts: 3,466
Geoff Dyer's book is quite absorbing. I read his wonderful riff on jazz first, 'But Beautiful', and loved that, especially the section on Thelonius Monk. Dyer has almost too fertile a mind and I could see how some would find his speculative streak irritating, but his exhaustive insights into some individual pictures is often impressive. Whether the book would be an antidote to melancholy I am not so sure.
__________________
Richard
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-07-2012   #75
Muller
Registered User
 
Muller is offline
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 81
Interesting. I've gone through the the same thoughts as well now and then, or that my photos (style, technique, subject, whatever) aren't good enough. But then, I'm not sure I want to be compared to the "masters"; HCB, Adams, Maplethorpe, Yeager, etc. I'm not any of them, and I don't want my photos to be mistaken as theirs.

Recently I looked at an exhibit of Limb Eung-sik's photography at the MoCA, Korea. Before that feeling started coming over me, I reminded myself there's no way I can ever get photos like he did; the destruction and rebuilding of Seoul and Inchon during and after the Korean War, portraits various celebrities from the 60's to the 80's. It was his street shooting in and around one of the districts in Seoul where I noticed something, that I was looking at not just the subjects in the photos, but at how he was shooting them. And seeing the same things I do for a shot. Which ones he was moving when he took them, hip shots, when he was shooting at eye level before moving on, and the ones he took surreptitiously of a couple at coffee shop seated at a table across from him.

So without even knowing it before, apparently I'm as good as one of the greats. Get out and shoot.
  Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:08.


vBulletin skin developed by: eXtremepixels
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

All content on this site is Copyright Protected and owned by its respective owner. You may link to content on this site but you may not reproduce any of it in whole or part without written consent from its owner.