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Business / 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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This is why I will never stop shooting
Old 09-20-2011   #1
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This is why I will never stop shooting

Some months ago my dad and I visited my son on his annual huge scouting camp, way up in the North of the Netherlands.

Here's a shot:



It actually is nothing special.

BUT: as it turned out later, my dad had a minor heart attack that day, only an hour or so before I took this. I still remember him being shaky and pale-faced while walking this sand stretch with me, and me sitting him down and fetching him a cup of coffee. Never could have imagined that he had been close to a bigger heart attack that day.

Finding this on a scanned roll tonight was a big affirmation that I really want to bring a camera to wherever I go, and shoot whatever I see. Trivial shots may prove so important later!

I finished the roll a week or two later:



That's my dad and my daughter in the hospital on visiting hours.


He's been back in the hospital for a night since then, apparently medicine dosage was off. Apart from that he's fine.


If there's anything I have learned from this, it's to shoot whatever you like even if it seems trivial at the time!
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Old 09-20-2011   #2
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You sir, have crossed a threshold. One that usally results in a period of kick ass photos.
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Old 09-20-2011   #3
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they're wonderful photos. And yes, I usually have some sort of camera with me at all times. I don't know why because sometimes I never use it. I guess it's a sense of security: 1) taking pictures brings me so much happiness, and it's nice to know happiness is always in easy reach, no matter what the day may bring, and 2) too many times I thought: "Damn, I wish I had my camera with me!"

So I say: keep shooting!
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Old 09-20-2011   #4
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Nice thread.

I occasionally would complain that there wasn't anything to shoot.... when in fact, I have the subjects all around me - my loved ones. I don't love all the pictures I've taken, but I love the people in those pictures.

These images are like a little slideshow in my memory bank... like (probably) these photos are for yours.

Thanks for sharing these.
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Old 09-20-2011   #5
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Michael Winner in "My Teenage Diaries" (BBC) makes the superb point that we photograph the wrong things.

Wouldn't you LOVE to see a picture of your parents' house or the interior of your bedroom when you were young? Of your lecture halls at university? Of the room (or even the outside of the building) where you lost your virginity?

Cheers,

R.
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Old 09-20-2011   #6
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Roger, Yes, yes, yes and yes! I agree with you 100%
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Old 09-20-2011   #7
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I'm glad that your Dad is recovering. That is a tough blow, finding out that parents are not invulnerable. I have some great shots of my Dad, many with my nieces and nephews as babies- now they are in their 40s. They are appreciated.

And pictures of my parents house, lecture halls at my old University, and my '72 Mustang...
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Old 09-20-2011   #8
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I love this thread. Thank you, Buzzardkid, for sharing your story and your photos. To paraphrase the above, I hope the thread inspires me to cross a kind of threshold, as well.

I'm going to take this bit to heart:

Quote:
Originally Posted by goo0h View Post
[...] taking pictures brings me so much happiness, and it's nice to know happiness is always in easy reach, no matter what the day may bring [...]
Lately I've found that taking many photos - digital and analog - leaves me with a treasure trove of memories that don't all get reviewed right away (especially the film work); having old images see first light much later is often a nice unexpected treat.


Cheers,
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Old 09-20-2011   #9
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Hey, sure glad he is recovering. A small heart attack is definitely a wake-up call for everyone in the family. I should know having lived this scenario for the last 18 months.

It tends to focus what is important to you. After my wife suffered a heart attack, then a stroke and later a fatal reaction to the new heart medication (10 cardiac arrests brought back each time with a defibrilator), there are only two things important to me anymore....my wife's continuing recovery and health, and spending as much time with her as possible.

Nothing else matters. Photography can be important to you at this time. For me, I am not sure what value they may be in the future, but I dare not forego taking as many photos of our good times together as possible.

So, yeah, you are doing exactly the right thing and I hope your entire family continues to enjoy each other's health and presence for a very long time.
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Old 09-20-2011   #10
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I wish your dad a speedy recovery and many more years of life.

With best regards.

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Old 09-20-2011   #11
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buzzarkid, another great reminder of the fragility of life .... and how it interacts with our passion for fotography. Being a nurse in the hospital (ICU, Emergency, etc), I see this sort of thing happen all the time. Enjoy life while we can and the others around us
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Old 09-20-2011   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Michael Winner in "My Teenage Diaries" (BBC) makes the superb point that we photograph the wrong things.

Wouldn't you LOVE to see a picture of your parents' house or the interior of your bedroom when you were young? Of your lecture halls at university? Of the room (or even the outside of the building) where you lost your virginity?

Cheers,

R.
+1!

I am sooo guilty of ignoring the things that really matter (all around me) and as a result have almost zero photos of people at all. I remember when I visited my pen-pal at age 19 in Sheridan, Wyoming, (my first solo trip overseas, which was an amzing experience) and came back and showed people my photos and they were like, "What, doesn't anyone live in Wyoming?" Now (many years later) the faces of most of the folks who made that trip so special are just dim memories. I really wish I had taken more candid and people pics

Scott
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Old 09-20-2011   #13
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This brings up a problem with today's digital mindset. I'm old enough that family members are passing on. At least once a year I get a request something like this. Do you have a good photo of aunt Madeline who just passed away? Sometimes the photo I find would be one that might have been deleted. I did not value the photo much when I took it but after they are gone they become much more valuable. Get those family photos while you can. Joe
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Old 09-20-2011   #14
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My Dad after having gone through several operations for Kidney and Colon cancer.
I'm not stopping either. Not even death is gonna stop me from shooting. I'm gonna haunt my favorite camera.

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Old 09-20-2011   #15
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Often, we only see what's really important when it's in our rear view mirrors. Best wishes to your dad on a full and speedy recovery. Keep shooting.

You never know when the next surprise will come. Hopefully, it will filled with more joy and less pain. Life moves on whether we want it to or not. That's one of the big reasons I make images. To freeze some moments that will never pass may retinas again. Personally I'd be lost without my photography.
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Old 09-20-2011   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzardkid View Post
If there's anything I have learned from this, it's to shoot whatever you like even if it seems trivial at the time!
Check!

My dad's currently recovering from a by-pass operation. I've been stealing a few snaps of mom and him whenever I get the chance, with whatever camera I am carrying.
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Old 09-21-2011   #17
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Brilliant.

We have around 27 photo albums in the house, photos in them go back to my great grand parents. Every couple of weeks an album goes on the coffee table...the children find them fascinating.
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Old 09-21-2011   #18
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nice thread and comments, and so right.

thanks to RFF and "street photo hobby, I've become quite bold taking candid shots of my relatives and friends. they still protest as always, but have understood they cannot stop the "camera nut"
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Old 09-21-2011   #19
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...my eyes got a bit leaky reading this. i really couldn't agree more.

i'm glad your dad is recovering. thanks a lot for sharing. <3
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Old 09-21-2011   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzardkid View Post
If there's anything I have learned from this, it's to shoot whatever you like even if it seems trivial at the time!
Wise words, Johan.

Your post made me realize that I really should learn to hit that delete button less often..
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Old 09-21-2011   #21
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Thanks for all your kind words, folks.

Another great analogy is the medieval bridge of Mostar, in Bosnia. IIRC it was blown to bits in the Balkan war and after the war nearly all rubble was dredged from the river and people were asked to submit as many pictures of the bridge that they had, so it could be reconstructed.

That bridge was a mandatory shot for any tourist visiting Yugoslavia and there were so many shots that people were bored seeing them, until they were needed to reconstruct that 750 year old bridge.

ssmc, your pictures will someday mean something to someone in Sheridan, Wyoming!
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Old 09-21-2011   #22
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Best wishes to your Dad. And thanks for portretteur - the Hexar AF info in particular.
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Old 09-21-2011   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzardkid View Post

If there's anything I have learned from this, it's to shoot whatever you like even if it seems trivial at the time!
Thanks for a thoughtful post that reminds us to keep on keeping on even when there may be dissenting opinions from others.
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Old 09-21-2011   #24
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My Dad never much liked having his photo taken so I usually had to catch him off guard. After his heart attack and by-pass I took many more photos of him and my Mom. Some of these images aren't so good but since he passed away and two years later my Mom passed away I cherish each and every one of them.

This is the last photo of them before they both started having health issues. I still haven't figured out how I managed to get him to let me take the photo..

md.jpg
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Old 09-22-2011   #25
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Just occasionally someone starts a thread on here that really makes it worth spending the time to read it and really brings home that photography is about the pictures and not the gear used to take them.

This is one of those threads - a great story and an important lesson
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Old 09-22-2011   #26
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My own father is 84 and the most recent picture I have of him (around his 83rd birthday and my 60th) is in a hospital bed, though he's much better now and has managed to take his customary holidays in Madeira. I see him seldom, as we live 1000 miles apart, but I know that one day I will take my last picture of him. I may already have taken it...

But on a much less heart-tugging level, I find that I take more and more pictures of those small things that lift the heart: things that are all too easy to forget otherwise. The most recent (and most trivial) was at a motorway rest stop after delivering our daughter back to Brittany for university. It sounds ridiculous, but the toilets signs were amusing! The Gents' was an insouciant young man, leaning against a wall; the Ladies' had her nose in the air, very snooty; and even the disabled wheelchair was racing, whether to get there or to get away, I don't know. When I get around to processing the raw files, maybe I'll post them.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 10-03-2011   #27
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That post is so touching.
I bring at least two cameras with me, everyday, one film camera and one digital, for the reason that you explain. I have also a digital voice recorder with me, and often I register the voice of the person I love, when they are talking about something I wish to remember.
Some time ago, I found a recording with the voice of my uncle, that spoke about something that is very important for me. He was telling me about how he printed the photos in the darkroom whith his father.
Has been so beautiful to have a last speech from him about his memories.
He passed away more than 10 years ago.
Now I am scanning a lot of photos taken by him about the youthness of my granmother, my father and the places of his youthness, Sorrento in 1951.
Is so sweet and so important for me, and for my father also.
Thaking photos regullarly is like having a wayback machine.
I EVER will bring a camera with me!
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Old 10-03-2011   #28
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It is hard for me to photograph aging members of my life. Friends, family, pets. I like to remember them the way I knew them as I was growing up. So, I remind my self that my pictures today will serve this purpose for my kids someday. They will see us, their friends, our pets the way they 'like' to remember.

(yes I am a horrible photojournalist. e.i. I can not raise a camera in a hospital, but I am working at it)
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Old 10-03-2011   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dnk512 View Post
It is hard for me to photograph aging members of my life. Friends, family, pets. I like to remember them the way I knew them as I was growing up. So, I remind my self that my pictures today will serve this purpose for my kids someday. They will see us, their friends, our pets the way they 'like' to remember.

(yes I am a horrible photojournalist. e.i. I can not raise a camera in a hospital, but I am working at it)
I've always liked it that obituaries often featured pictures of the deceased taken in their prime. I used a photo of my Dad taken when he was in the Navy for his obit.

It may be a cliche, but that is the magic of photos - an instant captured from time.

Randy
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Old 10-03-2011   #30
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Photos of loved ones who have passed away are precious. Just this weekend, I took photos of my friend's aging mother. These photos will become important to him and his children in the future.
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Old 10-03-2011   #31
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Photos of loved ones who have passed away are precious. Just this weekend, I took photos of my friend's aging mother. These photos will become important to him and his children in the future.
Not just loved ones, and not just passed away. I wish I had more pictures of my university friends 30 years ago, when we were at university. I've just one of Helen (Biology), a handful of Barbara (Law -- she was a gorgeous handful), one of Gorilla (Law), one of Charles (Theology)... These were people I saw all the time.

Cheers,

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Last edited by Roger Hicks : 10-04-2011 at 00:14. Reason: typo
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Old 10-03-2011   #32
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Great thread.
Inspiring and I agree that one should stand back and just take photos of the more mundane things sometimes....
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Old 10-03-2011   #33
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Best wishes to your dad. I have already lost my mom and dad.
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Old 10-03-2011   #34
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This is really an inspiring thread - I'm touched beyond words.

It serves to remind me to not forget why I photograph in the first place, to capture memories, especially of our loved ones.

GAS aside, I will endeavor to take as many pictures of my family as possible.
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A very thoughtful thread.
Old 11-06-2011   #35
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A very thoughtful thread.

I think, subconsciously, this is related to my penchant for photographing my wife.
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Old 11-06-2011   #36
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Quote:
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we photograph the wrong things.

Wouldn't you LOVE to see a picture of your parents' house or the interior of your bedroom when you were young? Of your lecture halls at university? Of the room (or even the outside of the building) where you lost your virginity?
I have photos of all of these things. And more. And it is cool; some places still look exactly the same decades later, some have been erased, others, somewhere inbetween.

But I probably don't have enough photos of my parents. Something to work on.

Marty
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Old 11-06-2011   #37
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Thanks for this thread Johan, I hope your dad continues to recover to good health. It's an important reminder that often the subjects that matter the most are right under our noses - and we regret it if we don't keep taking pictures.

Roger, you are so right in your comments. I have too few pictures of the things that matter.

Both my parents (and also my wife's) passed away a few years ago. All were camera-shy, so we treasure what we have. My wife's brother also died in a tragic accident at age 60 just a year afterwards, and his family were very grateful I had taken happy portraits of him with his children just a few months earlier. You never know when a loved one's (or your) time is up. People are very appreciative when you can help them out.
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Old 11-07-2011   #38
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I have photos of all of these things. And more. And it is cool; some places still look exactly the same decades later, some have been erased, others, somewhere in between.
Dear Marty,

Ah, you're a wiser man than I. And you were FAR wiser when you were younger. But I'm learning...

Cheers,

R.
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Old 11-08-2011   #39
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Best wishes to you and your father and may he make great progress.
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Old 11-08-2011   #40
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Buzzardkid - Somehow I missed this thread earlier. I am so glad your father is doing well now. We tend to take our hearts for granted a lot of times.

Keep taking photos everyone. I try to do it often as well. In fact, snapshots of family is about all I have time for any more. But I do that.
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