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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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What is Photography
Old 01-29-2014   #1
Michael Markey
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What is Photography

Is this still good advice ?

http://fotografiamagazine.com/letter...to-his-nephew/
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Old 01-29-2014   #2
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This is about the best introduction to serious photography there can be. It applies to film and digital because it deals with the end product...... the picture, YOUR picture.

Find the camera that suits you, that feels good, and use it!
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Old 01-29-2014   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sejanus.Aelianus View Post
Forgive me for saying that it seems like pretentious rubbish.

No forgiveness required
I thought it pretty good advice myself ...in parts.
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Old 01-29-2014   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sejanus.Aelianus View Post
Forgive me for saying that it seems like pretentious rubbish.
I rather liked it, partly due to the fact that parts of it apply to my personal work at this point in my life. I certainly don't feel qualified enough to offer similar advice to a young aspirant.

Just curious, what advice would you give?
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Old 01-29-2014   #5
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Like all other opinions, it should be taken with a grain of salt for taste, and a glass of water to wash it down. Then go read more and various opinions.

My opinion: "To thine own self, be true."
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Old 01-29-2014   #6
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Originally Posted by Sejanus.Aelianus View Post
Forgive me for saying that it seems like pretentious rubbish.
Let's not forget it was a personal letter initially and not a public manifesto.
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Old 01-29-2014   #7
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Good straight forward advice, I didn't really disagree with any of it; but I especially liked the advice of thinning down the number of images over time-showing the best ones only to others.

"The conventional world puts a veil over your eyes, it’s a matter of taking it off during the period of photography."

I quite like that, personal advice that was in parts touching, he must have been fond of his nephew– thanks for posting.
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Old 01-29-2014   #8
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I thought it sound advice.
For my part it largely rings true and I'm not sure where the 'pretence' is that was referred to previously.
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Old 01-29-2014   #9
Michael Markey
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I thought the advice not to force it was sound, learning by actually doing it similary so.
Believing in your own taste likewise appeals in this world which seems to reduce everything to a formula .
As to the wandering bit ...great if you can .
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Old 01-29-2014   #10
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... have you posted it on the camera-club website Michael? It could form part of their constitution
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Old 01-29-2014   #11
Michael Markey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photo_Smith View Post
"The conventional world puts a veil over your eyes, it’s a matter of taking it off during the period of photography."

I quite like that, personal advice that was in parts touching, he must have been fond of his nephew– thanks for posting.
Yes , I liked that bit partly because its the bit I find the most difficult .
Well its the only bit I`m admitting to here anyway
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Old 01-29-2014   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparrow View Post
... have you posted it on the camera-club website Michael? It could form part of their constitution

Uncanny ... do you know the winning numbers for the weekend lottery too .
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Old 01-29-2014   #13
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this always is good advice, for photography, for hunting, for fishing, for many things: "By looking, you will learn to see."
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Old 01-29-2014   #14
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There was a Sergio Larrain exhibition at Arles 2013. I can't repeat often enough. GO TO ARLES. You'll see lots of brilliant exhibitions by brilliant photographers (and some right rubbish too).

Out of curiosity, I tried reading it in Spanish too (I could only even begin to translate it because I'd already read the English). Even if your Spanish is rotten, like mine, give it a try. It's worth reading in any language, but somehow the Spanish adds a dimension.

Cheers,

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Old 01-29-2014   #15
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That advise sounds about perfect. And probably pretty much what you would get from any such accomplished photographer.

His new book is one of my favorite purchases of the last year.
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Old 01-29-2014   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sejanus.Aelianus View Post
Forgive me for saying that it seems like pretentious rubbish.
I don't know you personally, just from your postings here on RFF, and I say this with all respect, because things do get misconstrued on the internet, but is there ANYTHING that you like?
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Old 01-29-2014   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sejanus.Aelianus View Post
Most of your postings, for a start.
Thank you.
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Old 01-29-2014   #18
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Old 01-29-2014   #19
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It's sound advice and conducive to the kind of photography which Larrain was a master of. The wanderer/flâneur ethos is probably not useful to all strands of photography, but I've yet to meet the photographer who is not happy with a couple of rolls in his pocket and the sun on his back. The style is a bit florid in places but it's a personal letter meant to transmit fervor and inspire its young recipient, not some kind of list of inviolable mandates. I agree with Roger, reading the original adds something to it, especially as the prose is intended to be a bit poetic. The words 'vagar y vagar' stick to mind: so appropriate in the letter of this quintessential photographer-vagabonde.

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Old 01-29-2014   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sejanus.Aelianus View Post
Forgive me for saying that it seems like pretentious rubbish.
I thought it was beautiful and inspiring. Thanks for posting the link, Michael.
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Old 01-29-2014   #21
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YIKES, cropping....
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Old 01-29-2014   #22
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Quote:
... sit under a tree when you’re tired ...
Enjoyed reading this letter and that part especially. When tired of the chase, unsuccessful at that as usual, some of my best frames start to happen in front of me while having a smoke under a tree. Let the scenes come to you. Be patient.
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Old 01-29-2014   #23
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Many of us stuck at stage one.
Finding comfortable camera.
No photography started, just GAS with images taken as sharpness tests...
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Old 01-29-2014   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Markey View Post
Great read, thanks a lot for sharing !
I was almost laughing out loud reading the very first box/page thinking about all the nice to have feature overloaded SLR's of today .

Too damn cold for sitting under a tree right now ...
And yes, of course still completely relevant (maybe apart from the enlarger though ... ).
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Old 01-29-2014   #25
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Old 01-29-2014   #26
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Seems like sound advice to me. I wish I had been told that when I was a learner.

Oh - I still am.
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Old 03-03-2014   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MiniMoke View Post
This is about the best introduction to serious photography there can be. It applies to film and digital because it deals with the end product...... the picture, YOUR picture.

Find the camera that suits you, that feels good, and use it!
My Mamiya 645
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Old 03-17-2014   #28
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This is probably the best introduction to photography I have ever read... And not just photography but to life and everything in it.
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Old 04-16-2014   #29
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The only problem with this article is that it assumes a photographer who travels around to new places constantly. Most of us are stuck to the place where we live, and no matter how interesting a place it might be after sometime it becomes boring.

The biggest challenge in photography is overcoming this boredom, and while gear buying can be a quick fix, there is no quick fix to overcoming the natural subject boredom that occurs to every photographer.


This article is misleading because it might fill the head of a new photographer that photography is all about romantic walks and shaded trees and what not... In fact its the opposite, most of the time, its walking around aimlessly, and feeling really bored - that is the reality of photography.
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Old 04-16-2014   #30
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thanks for that Michael, I thought it was very good. There is enough sound advice to enable most people to get something out of it. Like the advice about editing (taping photos to the wall). I'm sure his nephew found it inspiring. What more could one ask for from such a letter?
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Old 04-16-2014   #31
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My pleasure , glad so many found it inspirational.... I did .
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Old 04-16-2014   #32
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Thanks Michael. I wouldn't have stopped except it was your thread. Then to find there is a link, and to a letter, from Sergio Lorrain, and to his nephew: wonderful. When a thing is written with love and humility it is a privilege to see it.

I only came a across Lorrain a few months ago, and my Amazon account has a book of his in the cart waiting for our dollar to return to where it is now....

I always enjoy Sejanus Aelianus's posts. He defies categorization. You might at times think that he is worried he will get fond of one or two of us, and makes sure he won't and we'll not sit with him either. It isn't really working. You might think he has a death wish. The model for his moniker was thrown down the steps in Rome, and worse, an ignominious fate for him and his family. Puzzling. As I said, defies categorization.
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Old 04-16-2014   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hsg View Post
The only problem with this article is that it assumes a photographer who travels around to new places constantly. Most of us are stuck to the place where we live, and no matter how interesting a place it might be after sometime it becomes boring.

The biggest challenge in photography is overcoming this boredom, and while gear buying can be a quick fix, there is no quick fix to overcoming the natural subject boredom that occurs to every photographer.


This article is misleading because it might fill the head of a new photographer that photography is all about romantic walks and shaded trees and what not... In fact its the opposite, most of the time, its walking around aimlessly, and feeling really bored - that is the reality of photography.
I definitely agree with this, even new places aren't always stimulating just by their novelty.
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Old 04-16-2014   #34
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I thought this was excellent. I enjoyed reading it and looking at the other links as well. Thanks for posting it. - jim
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Old 04-17-2014   #35
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I very much enjoyed the read so thanks Michael.

Would I agree, mostly but perhaps my ludicrous romanticism was stoked by his poetic outlook?!

Perhaps the truth, if there is one, lies somewhere between his advice and the harsher points raised by Hsg.

For me the most salient point was to photograph purely for oneself. Attempting to please others or follow the aesthetic of others leads nowhere.

I'm also thinking of resisting the label of photographer and referring to myself purely as a flaneur, though my wife may suggest 'prat' as more appropriate.
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Old 04-17-2014   #36
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Pleased that so many enjoyed the piece .

I agree , Simon, about photographing for oneself .
Flaneur ....I like the sound of that too
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Old 04-17-2014   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hsg View Post
The only problem with this article is that it assumes a photographer who travels around to new places constantly. Most of us are stuck to the place where we live, and no matter how interesting a place it might be after sometime it becomes boring.

The biggest challenge in photography is overcoming this boredom, and while gear buying can be a quick fix, there is no quick fix to overcoming the natural subject boredom that occurs to every photographer.


This article is misleading because it might fill the head of a new photographer that photography is all about romantic walks and shaded trees and what not... In fact its the opposite, most of the time, its walking around aimlessly, and feeling really bored - that is the reality of photography.
That is your reality.
A quick drive/ride etc most of us can be somewhere different to our home local scene.

New shadows and the falling of light each day with different people coming and going can be inspiration enough for me.

Why walk aimlessly.....
Walk to take photos! Follow the light, pick a subject for a day, or a lens, or something.....
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Old 04-24-2014   #38
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Walker Evans states what he thinks it ain't LOL
"Photography is not cute cats, nor nudes, motherhood or arrangements of manufactured products. Under no circumstances it is anything ever anywhere near a beach."- Walker Evans
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Old 04-24-2014   #39
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I had that recent book of Sergio Larrain's photographs in my Amazon cart for over $200, but then found the French version, with presumably the same pictorial content, for under $100. That was better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick, as my mother used to say.
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Old 04-24-2014   #40
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Walker Evans states what he thinks it ain't LOL
"Photography is not cute cats, nor nudes, motherhood or arrangements of manufactured products. Under no circumstances it is anything ever anywhere near a beach."- Walker Evans
I love Walker Evans, but he's wrong...
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