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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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Pictures Grow on You
Old 01-23-2012   #76
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Pictures Grow on You

When I pick up a newly developed role of film, or download a digital shoot, I often feel 'what a waste of time and money' I put them aside, go back a week or a month later, and usually find one or two that I think have some merit. I've been taking pictures for 50 years. It still happens!

Give it a try.
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Old 01-26-2012   #77
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Originally Posted by Alfasud View Post
When I pick up a newly developed role of film, or download a digital shoot, I often feel 'what a waste of time and money' I put them aside, go back a week or a month later, and usually find one or two that I think have some merit.
I often (almost always) feel the same way and started to do the "pause" with my 120 film, but to an even greater extreme.

I will let the exposed rolls pile up for a few months then send them off in bulk for processing.

No idea what is coming back but for a faint, foggy recollection. The results, good or bad, always lead to surprises and that is rewarding by itself!
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Old 01-30-2012   #78
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I would highly recommend The Passionate Photographer which can be purchased from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Passionate-Pho...7984954&sr=1-1

Also, keep in mind the words of the great master Vincent Van Gogh:
"The thing has already taken form in my mind before I start it. The first attempts are absolutely unbearable. I say this because I want you to know that if you see something worthwhile in what I am doing, it is not by accident but because of real direction and purpose."
Even Van Gogh disliked his own work sometimes.

But when he thought his work sucked, he did not give up. He didn't say, "What's the use? Why bother? Someone else has already painted this subject." He worked even harder at honing his eye and perfecting his craft. The results of his dedication and passion are recorded in the annals of history.

More recently, a contemporary photographer named Zack Arais said:
"Some of you suck and you really need some help. Your camera doesn't have a Richard Avedon button on it, does it? Well, Avedon sucked, Karsh sucked, Adams sucked, Mary Ellen sucked, Cowart sucked, Jarvis sucked...every photographer in all of history was a horrible photographer for some period of time. They learned, they grew, they had dark days, they persevered. That is the way of the artist. Just be patient, keep on going...."
There is no such thing as "natural talent" in the world of photography. There is only passionate perseverance and relentless focus.

Take 5:51 out of your day to watch this video titled "How badly do you want to improve your photography?" It is outstanding: http://www.petapixel.com/?s=how+bad+...photography%3F
"The winter leeks
have been washed white
how cold it is!"

- Matsuo Basho
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Old 01-30-2012   #79
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Similar picture can be taken many times from many different photographers and still will be different. Shoot and don't worry about it
When in doubt, click.
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Old 01-30-2012   #80
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I don't know if this is might help:

“If you hear a voice within you say "you cannot paint," then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
― Vincent van Gogh

In your case you are no beginner but I guess it means just keep going. I find digital helps as you can snap away at what you like with no film wasted. It might be an idea not to look at other photographer's work. When I was young and just starting I saw a Bill Brandt nude and thought I should never take a nude. Well, I do and they are different from his.
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Old 01-31-2012   #81
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Perhaps try a totally different type of photography? Just because you're on RFF, does not mean you need to shoot "street". Maybe try some landscapes, depending on where you live and your transport options, you may be able to get some really beautiful places.
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Old 01-31-2012   #82
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thanks all
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Old 01-31-2012   #83
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I don't think it will help but I bought a William Eggleston book and really found it so boring. I'll probably never be published and no one is going to recall my name as a photographer, but I'm making photography for me, myself and I... and a very few people who appreciate when I give their portraits back.

Anyway, a short depression is quite a good thing to live. Your life and photographs may benefit from it sooner than you think.

Originally Posted by Jerevan View Post
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.
I agree that.
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Old 01-31-2012   #84
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You can't take pictures for the sake of taking pictures. It will always turn out horrible. Photograph something because it means something to you, because you want to remember it. For example, whenever I'd go on a date i'd photograph my plate. And it recently came up as my girlfriend of nearly 4 years and the mother of my child and I were going through old pictures. We saw a plate of waffle fries and went over how'd she call me at 2am to pick her up from her dorm room just so we could go to this diner 30 miles out of the way for these fries. It's a terrible picture, grainy, the colour is all wrong. But I like it because of what it made me think of.
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Old 01-31-2012   #85
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Switch gears, this weekend a friend asked me to do some stills for a play he is directing. It was fun, new and revitalizing. Even though I used a DSLR I still was up after the shoot, and for the first time enjoyed using digital. The female lead liked my shots and asked me to do some promotional photos of her. I have never done many portraits, but what the heck (I'll use film for those).
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Old 02-05-2012   #86
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I've gone through the same disillusionment, and the way I've solved it is to only take pictures of things that are meaningful to ME. Basically, that means pictures of the things and people that happen around me in my normal life, especially the people. Street photography is the antithesis of this, and perhaps that's why I've never related to it--pictures of people I don't know and don't care about. On the other hand, I love seeing other people pictures of their family and friends--those who they care about.
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Old 02-25-2012   #87
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This is a great idea. I think I'll try it.
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Old 02-25-2012   #88
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When I started out over 50 years ago I shot mostly landscapes. I didn't want any people in my photos. Then about 20 years ago I realized that the places I was shooting looked pretty much the same thousands of years before I showed up with my camera. But the people were changing. And thats where I've been since the revelation... shooting people in these places. It has become much more satisfying since I made peace with myself.
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Old 04-05-2012   #89
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First, fallow periods are useful - they allow for re-charging. If you're feeling fed up with photography then try writing something? Make something. Try avoiding creativity altogether.

I think photography is a very difficult subject to think about. It's not something that opens up straightforwardly. You can easily tie yourself up in knots worrying about whether what you're shooting is any good or not. I'm sure all creatives have similar concerns, but photography is so instinctive, so ephemeral and, at the moment of shooting, subconscious that perhaps the concerns of a sculptor or a painter (for example) are quite different.

If you're not earning your living from photography then it's more about carrying a camera every day and taking pictures I'd say. The doubts may continue, but there'll gradually accrue a body of pictorial evidence which will show that you actually can take decent pictures. That should be enough to silence the part of your brain which tries to edit out the images before you can even shoot them.

Then, I think, posting stuff on here in the Gallery is a superb way to separate the wheat - in your own mind - from the chaff. Once they're up there it's amazing how you more easily spot the half decent ones from the ones you thought were OK but somehow now don't quite make it.

Finally, though I like the idea of 'projects' I seem to find them difficult to dream up. If you're spending ages looking for and thinking about, but ultimately not happening upon a particular theme then the chances are you're not concentrating fully on taking pictures of what you find around you. I also think that no matter how commonplace your own surroundings are to you, someone like me might find them fascinating.
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Old 04-07-2012   #90
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thanks again, everyone.

the thread has got some legs...
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Old 04-07-2012   #91
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I have the same feeling too so that's why I don't shoot a lot of things. The things that I actually shoot I make sure that they are at least somewhat unique, either because of content, style or technique. So if they were unique, then no one can say they do a better job than I do.
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Old 04-08-2012   #92
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Lots of good advice here, so I'll just chime in with what works for me. I shoot with a mix of digital and film cameras, and work with a variety of subject matter, from landscape to urban documentary. But when I start to feel dry and worn out, I always return to my B/W darkroom roots, especially pinhole cameras, large paper negatives, and now the Harman direct positive fiber paper. These seem to be an organic, hands-on antidote to working with graphic image files on computer screens. They're tangibly real, and this grounds me.

Going forward, I'd really like to start doing wet plate collodion, along with more iphoneography. Yea, both opposite ends of the technology spectrum, and both highly rewarding to me.

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Old 05-16-2012   #93
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Originally Posted by Hjortsberg View Post
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...
I know what you mean.
In a way t's a shame you've seen the Eggleston and similar. If you hadn't seen his work would you find it easier - would you take photos in the style of those?

If you think you would you should still go do it. Whatever you take, nobody else has done it before. Sorry if this is obvious, I know it is.

When I was at art college there was a superb library, in a Tudor mansion in the countryside in the UK, it had hand painted Chinese wallpaper. It was hard to look at the books and it was free back then.
I thought we shouldn't be allowed to use it to lok at art. It was a place that could either inspire, copy or depress and demotivate. Depends on the individual.

If you found the work you wanted to do, maybe done many years before, it took the wind from your sails. The journey - the learning - should be enough, but sometimes it isn't. College would help, because if you didn't do something, good or bad, it was a waste of time. How you find the way back in is the difficult bit.

I know this may sound unoriginal and obvious too. What about picking a theme? I've started doing a series about things I think are typically British, things that show / or explode stereotypical stuff, that show old fashion values - even in the grim inner city where they are hard to find. It's a starting point and searching for it is fun. It's broad and pretty much everywhere, so it's not making it too difficult form the start. When you find the photo - apply your values.

I'm sure you'll get help on this forum if this doesn't.
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Old 05-28-2012   #94
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quite a successful photographer once said ''Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.''

I recon that we should treat photography like Angling!! - enjoy going to beautiful places, practice the hunt and realise that you will catch lots of tiddlers before a specimen - Only a few people can hold the record, but it doesn't stop thousands from chasing it.

Quote... "The least important thing about fishing is catching a fish."
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Old 05-29-2012   #95
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HCB - "quite a successful photographer". That's a new one for his CV!
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