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Old 07-21-2016   #41
Richard G
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What makes a photographer serious about photography? Mutliple meanings to this question. For me it was deciding to have less rubbish photographs. And the cost of the Fuji Velvia roll I took on my annual holidays in 2008. And the broken ribs on that trip that had me up early to focus my mind on the task of exposing some of that roll and coming back from a walk by the ocean with a few keepers. I told myself: look at your framing and during and especially before, ask yourself is that even a photograph worth taking at all. So a dissatisfaction and a decision were at the heart of it.

And then you are immersed, and take more photographs and look more keenly at ordinary things. And you look at more photographs by others. And you refine your vision and what you want to achieve in taking photographs. And you learn more to achieve certain effects and you keep reading and learning more.

How to pick it in another person:

They don't just have Leicas.
They have an M2 and an OM2n, not an M3 and an OM4Ti.
They have old film cameras given to them.
They have at least one 55mm lens for 135 format.
They have camera manuals on their hard drive for cameras they don't own.
They own one Rolleiflex at least.
They never did buy the Hasselblad they've coveted for decades.

There's more of course.
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Old 07-21-2016   #42
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A credible statistic I read somewhere indicated that most serious photographers prefer taking photos over reading comics. I don't know anything about all the other stuff mentioned here but they read suspiciously like some people have too much time in their hands for frolicking.








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Old 07-21-2016   #43
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Originally Posted by telenous View Post
A credible statistic I read somewhere indicated that most serious photographers prefer taking photos over reading comics. I don't know anything about all the other stuff mentioned here but they read suspiciously like some people have too much time in their hands for frolicking.
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Old 07-21-2016   #44
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RichardG, it's uncanny how you keep describing me.
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Old 07-21-2016   #45
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Serious photographers do not smile.

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Old 07-21-2016   #46
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Every year I go to the Rencontres at Arles. Every year, there, I meet hundreds of people who are serious about photography. Not just photographers, but curators, gallery owners, publishers... Some are amateurs. Some are professionals. Many, like Chris and myself, derive some of their income from activities related to their photography, especially teaching or writing.

Some are better than others. Some can't afford the time or the money to get there every year (I live only 500 miles from Arles). But they're all pretty damn' serious.

And I'll tell you this. We almost never discuss cameras. They're just not that relevant. The only way it normally comes up is if someone comments on the fact I'm carrying a Leica, but Leicas are sufficiently common cameras at Arles that they don't really warrant much comment.

Inverted snobs will now start whining about how Arles (like Leicas) is the preserve of the idle rich. Well, not exactly. Our room costs 42€ a night (call it $45) and we live mostly on sandwiches. Many spend even less than we do, including camping instead of staying in an hotel. It's the nearest we have to an annual holiday; this year we spent around $1000 in getting there, staying there and eating there. That's for two people, remember.

Two photographers, in fact. Frances is known as one of the best hand colourists there is; you can see her latest series at http://rogerandfrances.eu/galleries/cars-as-ruins . At Arles, she sold one of the pictures straight out of her portfolio, even though we weren't exhibiting.

THIS is the sort of thing I mean when I say "serious about photography". It doesn't even matter how good you are: you can be utterly obsessed with photography, and bloody useless at it. But if you are serious, you don't say terminally stupid things like "It's the photographer that matters, not the camera." That's either a statement of the bleedin' obvious, in which case it's stupid, or it's a flat lie. Yes, it's a common stunt for a good photographer to show what they can do with a snapshot camera. But have you ever wondered why instead of using snapshot cameras all the time, most return to their preferred tools? It's because cameras do matter: you want the right camera for the right job.

This may be almost anything. A big advantage for a Leica for me is that if I'm walking 10-15 miles a day in the heat of Arles (maxima of around 90 degrees for most of the time we were there), carrying a camera all the time, then a small, light camera offers significant advantages over a big, heavy one.

Finally, it's pure nonsense to say that professionals can't afford high-end cameras. In most professional work, they're obligatory. But it's irrelevant to being serious about photography, just as is the distinction between amateur and professional. Professionals pretty much have to be serious. Amateurs have the choice. The ones who annoy me are the ones who don't really know what "serious" means; who've never even aspired to an exhibition or publication; who can't even be arsed to create a website; and yet who think they're "serious" because they post on forums like this.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-21-2016   #47
Brian Atherton
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Since the middle years of my schooling photography has been my abiding love and passion, and a constant in my creative output.

Professionally I worked in advertising photography for thirty years, in a studio and darkroom, using formats from 35mm to 20x16 inch.

Over the years, I’ve been asked to lecture to my amateur photography club in the 80s, had one article published – Kunst und Stein 5/87 – and one amateur exhibition, which reinforces my opinion that in my personal work I’m an amateur.
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Old 07-21-2016   #48
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One word... marketing.
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Basically, I mean, ah—well, let’s say that for me anyway when a photograph is interesting, it’s interesting because of the kind of photographic problem it states—which has to do with the . . . contest between content and form.
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Old 07-21-2016   #49
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Serious photography is an addiction, like you're on intravenous D76.
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Old 07-21-2016   #50
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Its the photographer that matters, not the camera
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Old 07-21-2016   #51
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You are serious about photography if you think you are.

All else is elitism, exclusionism, judgement and claptrap.
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Old 07-21-2016   #52
Roger Hicks
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Atherton View Post
Since the middle years of my schooling photography has been my abiding love and passion, and a constant in my creative output.

Professionally I worked in advertising photography for thirty years, in a studio and darkroom, using formats from 35mm to 20x16 inch.

Over the years, I’ve been asked to lecture to my amateur photography club in the 80s, had one article published – Kunst und Stein 5/87 – and one amateur exhibition, which reinforces my opinion that in my personal work I’m an amateur.
Dear Brian,

Quite. I've never quite understood attempts to distinguish between amateur and professional. The key word is "serious".

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-21-2016   #53
Roger Hicks
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Originally Posted by emraphoto View Post
Its the photographer that matters, not the camera
Then why don't all photographers use Box Brownies? There must surely be some reason other than elitism, snobbism, etc.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-21-2016   #54
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Originally Posted by unixrevolution View Post
You are serious about photography if you think you are.

All else is elitism, exclusionism, judgement and claptrap.
Or possibly self-delusion. "Serious" requires a degree of commitment that some apparently fail to understand.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-21-2016   #55
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The more I think about this and read others replies I wonder;

"Can one be serious about photography while not taking it seriously?"

I suppose it depends a lot on definitions, but in my case I know what I like to take photos of, I know my strengths and weaknesses, I know where I would like to improve, I enjoy looking at photos and reading about photography. Yet when I'm out taking photos I have fun and am not at all serious; if I miss a shot who cares, if I leave the lens cap on then so what, if a photo doesn't turn out how I hoped then I don't worry about it only think about what I could have done differently (not that I'd remember to do it next time anyway).

I'm comfortable with my skill level and just enjoy it. Am I "serious about photography"?
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Old 07-21-2016   #56
Roger Hicks
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Originally Posted by mcfingon View Post
Serious photography is an addiction, like you're on intravenous D76.
Beautiful!

But depressingly many people keep their entire lives at arm's length: relationships, understanding, commitment...

They live in what Gibran called "the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not with all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears."

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-21-2016   #57
David Hughes
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Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Dear Brian,

Quite. I've never quite understood attempts to distinguish between amateur and professional. The key word is "serious".

Cheers,

R.
Hmmm, I'd use the word about cameras and it applies to P&S's as well as the SLR's and CRF's and so on.

Regards, David
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Old 07-21-2016   #58
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A well known artist once summed it up this way to me at a party, "only a one man show at the Whitney Museum really counts."

Serious? Not a relevant concept in making art. I read thousands of reviews a year, I have never seen the line "the artist is serious."
True. But this is a one-way argument. Most photographers whose work is reviewed are, pretty much by definition, serious. They've made some effort. There's no need for the reviewer to remark upon it.

Those whose work is never even seen may or may not be serious. Those who bluster on internet forums, without ever providing evidence that they take pictures, probably aren't. They may not even understand what "serious" means.

Really, "serious" is a relevant concept in making art. Until you make the art (be it good or bad), you're not serious: you're just bloviating.

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R.
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Old 07-21-2016   #59
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Hmmm, I'd use the word about cameras and it applies to P&S's as well as the SLR's and CRF's and so on.

Regards, David
Dear David,

This is not inconsistent with a word I've said.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-21-2016   #60
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I agree with photomoof in that "seriousness" is not necessarily relevant to art. There are artists/photographers that build careers out of being flippant, IMO some of the best artists I know often treat their work as a sort of trivial game, sometimes they were making art because it wasn't a serious thing to do. Not that being serious is also not often desirable, because it is often goes hand in hand with discipline, criticality, determination, professionalism and so on, but seriousness can just as easily be the enemy of creativity as well - to care too much, to be too serious, is often crippling.

An article in parallel:
http://momus.ca/how-to-be-an-unprofessional-artist/

I often wish I cared less and were less serious, I would probably get more and better work done.
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Old 07-21-2016   #61
Roger Hicks
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Originally Posted by nongfuspring View Post
I agree with photomoof in that "seriousness" is not necessarily relevant to art. There are artists/photographers that build careers out of being flippant, IMO some of the best artists I know often treat their work as a sort of trivial game, sometimes they were making art because it wasn't a serious thing to do. Not that being serious is also not often desirable, because it is often goes hand in hand with discipline, criticality, determination, professionalism and so on, but seriousness can just as easily be the enemy of creativity as well - to care too much, to be too serious, is often crippling.

An article in parallel:
http://momus.ca/how-to-be-an-unprofessional-artist/

I often wish I cared less and were less serious, I would probably get more and better work done.
All entirely fair, but it still comes back to what I've said about doing it, not bloviating about it. I don't regard http://rogerandfrances.eu/galleries/...life-of-chairs as "serious" in the context of Great Meaningful Art, but at least I've got off my arse; made a series of pictures; and put them in front of people, instead of saying I Am Serious About Photography And Can Give Meaningful Advice To Others Even Though I Have Never Shown Any Evidence Of Even Taking Pictures.

This is pretty much what I meant by "serious" vs. "someone who calls himself serious but is apparently unclear on the concept".

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-21-2016   #62
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Plenty of food for thought in this thread and worth reading if only for the term "bloviating".
I wasn`t familiar with the word but then again I`ve never been to Ohio.
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Old 07-21-2016   #63
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Originally Posted by photomoof View Post
Yes I was trying to work it in with my favorite word "festooned."

Perhaps --- "this thread is festooned with bloviators." ??

Where do the theorists fit in, like Duchamp
?
Now you're just taking the piss.

But then, as Picasso allegedly said, "I often fake Picassos".

Cheers,

R. (Mutt)
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Old 07-21-2016   #64
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Yes I was trying to work it in with my favorite word "festooned." . . .
Do not neglect the wondrous word "plinth". Or indeed "coruscating"". For that matter "cephalopod" has its charms.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-21-2016   #65
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Then why don't all photographers use Box Brownies? There must surely be some reason other than elitism, snobbism, etc.

Cheers,

R.
Admittedly i was being cheeky this particular comment. I do believe there is a grain of truth in the statement though. At least my experience has taught me such.

I do agree that when most folks who dedicated a lot of time and energy toward producing photographs get together, they arent much interested in gear conversations
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Old 07-21-2016   #66
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Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Now you're just taking the piss.

But then, as Picasso allegedly said, "I often fake Picassos".

Cheers,

R. (Mutt)
Hi,

Yes, I remember the uproar when all the duplicates were found and often wondered what happened to them...

Regards, David
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Old 07-21-2016   #67
Roger Hicks
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Admittedly i was being cheeky this particular comment. I do believe there is a grain of truth in the statement though. At least my experience has taught me such.

I do agree that when most folks who dedicated a lot of time and energy toward producing photographs get together, they arent much interested in gear conversations
There is, no doubt. But there's a large grain of nonsense in it too. That's what makes it so dangerous: people who recognize one or the other, but not both.

Maybe recognizing both is one of the criteria of "serious".

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-21-2016   #68
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All entirely fair, but it still comes back to what I've said about doing it, not bloviating about it. I don't regard http://rogerandfrances.eu/galleries/...life-of-chairs as "serious" in the context of Great Meaningful Art, but at least I've got off my arse; made a series of pictures; and put them in front of people, instead of saying I Am Serious About Photography And Can Give Meaningful Advice To Others Even Though I Have Never Shown Any Evidence Of Even Taking Pictures.

This is pretty much what I meant by "serious" vs. "someone who calls himself serious but is apparently unclear on the concept".

Cheers,

R.
If you don't need to be serious to do it, and you don't need to do it to give good advice on it, then the bigger problem is that seriousness as a podium for superior advice is a misnomer.

My personal pet peeve with photo forums is not so much people faking expertise for attention so much as that photographers only ever seem interested in paying attention to other photographers - and generally only the "classics" at that. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but people could get just as good if not better advice from a graphic designer, painter, chemist, or (horror of horrors) a theorist.
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Old 07-21-2016   #69
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If you don't need to be serious to do it, and you don't need to do it to give good advice on it, then the bigger problem is that seriousness as a podium for superior advice is a misnomer.

My personal pet peeve with photo forums is not so much people faking expertise for attention so much as that photographers only ever seem interested in paying attention to other photographers - and generally only the "classics" at that. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but people could get just as good if not better advice from a graphic designer, painter, chemist, or (horror of horrors) a theorist.
All sort of true. But "getting better" seldom involves taking advice from people who have no idea whatsoever of what they are talking about; or at least, who give no evidence that they have any idea of what they are talking about, and obsess about the prices (and marques) of cameras.

As for "just as good if not better advice from a graphic designer, painter, chemist, or (horror of horrors) a theorist" isn't this a bit apples and oranges? Different kinds of advice, after all.

In my weekly "Final Analysis" column I try to keep "classics" to a minimum, for precisely the reasons you imply.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-21-2016   #70
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As for "just as good if not better advice from a graphic designer, painter, chemist, or (horror of horrors) a theorist" isn't this a bit apples and oranges? Different kinds of advice, after all.

In my weekly "Final Analysis" column I try to keep "classics" to a minimum, for precisely the reasons you imply.
Yes, apples and oranges, but I generally think the best insights are cross disciplinary. Looking generally over the history of photography (or culture in general) progress is almost exclusively made through the synthesis of different areas of human knowledge. If we're talking about very medium specific advice like how to expose a slide properly, then you're right, a graphic designer won't be of much use and a physicist will probably give too a tedious an explanation. Still, I think within photography these pieces of technical information are few and far between and generally arbitrary to the ideas that are (ideally) supposed to be what drive someone to make something in the first place.
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Old 07-21-2016   #71
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A distinct absence of any form of levity while taking a photo?
The size of the DSLR?
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Old 07-21-2016   #72
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Yes, apples and oranges, but I generally think the best insights are cross disciplinary. Looking generally over the history of photography (or culture in general) progress is almost exclusively made through the synthesis of different areas of human knowledge. If we're talking about very medium specific advice like how to expose a slide properly, then you're right, a graphic designer won't be of much use and a physicist will probably give too a tedious an explanation. Still, I think within photography these pieces of technical information are few and far between and generally arbitrary to the ideas that are (ideally) supposed to be what drive someone to make something in the first place.
Broad agreement. Any arguments would be trivial and hardly worth pursuing. They would be fit for the internet, as one might say.

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R
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Old 07-21-2016   #73
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  1. You sport a tan photographer's vest and have dark rimmed glasses.
A photographer's-vest tan would be pretty serious.
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Old 07-21-2016   #74
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Or possibly self-delusion. "Serious" requires a degree of commitment that some apparently fail to understand.

Cheers,

R.
I can definitely agree with that, and I can agree also that to be "serious" you have to have some level of commitment about taking photos and sharing them.

I have seen people be dead-set-serious about photography with iPhones and holgas. And people who are dead-set-serious about photography with an 8x10.
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Old 07-21-2016   #75
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I can definitely agree with that, and I can agree also that to be "serious" you have to have some level of commitment about taking photos and sharing them.

I have seen people be dead-set-serious about photography with iPhones and holgas. And people who are dead-set-serious about photography with an 8x10.
Exactly. Kit really need not affect matters. Try this one for size:

I'm REALLY SERIOUS about photography. I take pictures of whatever grabs my attention, using a mid-range DSLR. Anything cheaper wouldn't be serious; anything more expensive is just for poseurs. No-one uses film any more.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-21-2016   #76
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Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
A serious photographer takes his camera to bed.

Erik.
Exactly. At some point I was knowing a friend who used to take his iPad to bed while being married with someone looking like an Italian movie actress. There was something serious there for sure.

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I'm REALLY SERIOUS about photography. I take pictures of whatever grabs my attention, using a mid-range DSLR. Anything cheaper wouldn't be serious; anything more expensive is just for poseurs. No-one uses film any more.
Again, Roger Hicks, you should make this one your livre de chevet for a while :



That has been first published in 1976 with a 1982 reprint and there is nothing to change to it. There is even a chapter about the future of digital photography - go figure.

Lots of clever thoughts, lots of 1st class humour (even if none of the authors were British people), no bitter carpet-levelled caricature of ways of looking at "philosophical" concepts surrounding photography.
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Old 07-21-2016   #77
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The more I think about this and read others replies I wonder;

"Can one be serious about photography while not taking it seriously?"

I suppose it depends a lot on definitions, but in my case I know what I like to take photos of, I know my strengths and weaknesses, I know where I would like to improve, I enjoy looking at photos and reading about photography. Yet when I'm out taking photos I have fun and am not at all serious; if I miss a shot who cares, if I leave the lens cap on then so what, if a photo doesn't turn out how I hoped then I don't worry about it only think about what I could have done differently (not that I'd remember to do it next time anyway).

I'm comfortable with my skill level and just enjoy it. Am I "serious about photography"?
All that really matters is that one is devoted and passionate. It's why even some "lomographers" can be serious about what they're doing, even though by most standards what they're doing is careless and stupid. It's just a different way of working, to get a different sort of result. But it can still be serious.
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Old 07-21-2016   #78
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I don't believe a photographer has to seek the satisfaction of others to be serious about photography.
This is a key element in seriousness getting one's photography anywhere significant. Working for oneself, departing from fashion and ignoring camera club feedback about what one ought to be doing.
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Old 07-21-2016   #79
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Originally Posted by Richard G View Post
This is a key element in seriousness getting one's photography anywhere significant. Working for oneself, departing from fashion and ignoring camera club feedback about what one ought to be doing.
Not false.

Yet at the risk of ceasing photography from time to time, because not discussing and not showing are difficult to stand with after a while.

Anyway - there is nothing wrong with ceasing photography from time to time. There are many great photographers who did it that way.

OTOH I wonder what people keeping displaying their photos on a very regular basis (online for instance) in this world totally saturated with images can really gain by doing so. Even with websites they've built on purpose.

Exhibitions and printed publications (what I've been lucky enough to go through) still rule. The rest... never mind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
One who gets noticed and published.
Yes, but there are tons who don't. And there are thousands of unknown masterpieces out there. Not only since the maturity of the digital age.
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Old 07-21-2016   #80
Chriscrawfordphoto
Real Men Shoot Film.
 
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Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Age: 43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highway 61 View Post
Not false.

Yet at the risk of ceasing photography from time to time, because not discussing and not showing are difficult to stand with after a while.

Anyway - there is nothing wrong with ceasing photography from time to time. There are many great photographers who did it that way.

OTOH I wonder what people keeping displaying their photos on a very regular basis (online for instance) in this world totally saturated with images can really gain by doing so. Even with websites they've built on purpose.

Exhibitions and printed publications (what I've been lucky enough to go through) still rule. The rest... never mind.



Yes, but there are tons who don't. And there are thousands of unknown masterpieces out there. Not only since the maturity of the digital age.
The internet has made it possible for me to make a living selling my work. Thanks to my website, people all around the world have seen my work and bought it.
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