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Who are you shooting for?

Discussion in 'Philosophy of Photography' started by Pelao, Jun 20, 2011.

  1. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    Thom Hogan has an interesting little essay up: How thick is your skin?

    This thread title is taken from the real question of the essay.

    Thom Hogan's Nikon Field Guide and Nikon Flash Guide

    It's an interesting little question. I shoot for me. Always have, but now with much less compromise.
     
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  2. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    Thanks for this, I'll definitely read through it a bit later. I shoot for me and have become much more interested in portraying that which I see the way I see it. I am still fairly thin skinned...but am getting "thicker".:wink: I realize more and more as I get older that one's view is not going to translate to everyone else. There's a great deal of freedom in that realization. One of the pluses of age, I think.
     
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  3. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    I work for me no matter what the situation is.
    Even if I do an event, portrait, wedding etc, it's me that I am working for.
    In the end, that's what my clients want anyway and that's what they pay for. I've been fortunate to have a decent following of collectors etc that are into what I do.
    If I changed things at this point, my integrity would be compromised and thus the work also.
    Like Frank Sinatra sang......"I did it my way".....
     
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  4. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    I'm glad you asked the question, its one that has come up for me in recent weeks as I have been considering what on earth I am doing, collecting all these cameras, and almost never taking the K5 out at all.

    I realised that the "deterioration" began when I joined the local camera club, and suddenly everything became about the competition. I was no longer shooting for me, but for this comp or that challenge. The same happened in Redbubble...suddenly there are groups to join, challenges to enter, and I don't know why. I am not competitive by nature, and I have not been enjoying my photography as much as I once did. I almost never go out before sunrise anymore, using the cold weather as an excuse but you know it never used to stop me. I would be out 3-4 times a week. Now its once a month if that.

    I want to go back to shooting for me. I haven't left Redbubble, but will probably leave its groups, and I have no intention of going back to the camera club which is completely dominated by a half dozen Canikon shooters who win medals and what have you in the comps they go in. Great..for them.. not for me.

    Shooting should always be primarily for yourself. If what you do then resonates with others, thats wonderful. If it doesn't... it doesn't matter. Stay true to yourself. I've been learning that the hard way (at my age!! sheeze!)
     
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  5. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    Like Don, I always feel my photography is for, or maybe sometimes about, me. At the same time, I recognize that this is not the case for everyone, and also that for some the gear and / or technology is as important as the photography. I like gear too, but for what it can do.

    Kyteflyer - your camera club experience is interesting and very telling. I would like to have the company of photographers, but the competitive edge (both in terms of photography and gear) is not comfortable for me. Lots enjoy it, and that's great. I don't.
     
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  6. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    If you work and have clients, they stay with you long term because they relate to your vision.
    They appreciate how you plug your eyes into what they present you to work with.
    It's the same on the fine art circle, which is where I concentrate the most.
    If you maintain an integrity in your vision, stay focused on what your vision is, then you'll always be true to yourself and your clients will recognize that.

    If you compromise your value system or vision, well... Your gonna end up painting houses. That's ok if your a house painter but not a shooter.
    So in the end it's all personal work and nothing but....
     
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  7. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    kyteflyer, that sounds horrible! Ugh. I'm glad you came to your realization!

    You know this whole discussion has gotten me to thinking... It really does no good at all to compare oneself with anyone else. We each have such individual views of the world - and our pictures resonate from within.
     
  8. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    Very fair. I feel it's potentially tougher these days for people starting out: the web is democratic and can provide a neat platform for those not equipped to offer critiques to do so in a brutal manner. Of course, the web also offers more access to those open-minded enough to encourage the vision of others, even if they don't enjoy it.

    So true about clients. I am in the middle of what I would call an industrial series for a client: 3G network installations being prepared for 4G. It's very particular work, with the photography savings hundreds of engineer visits, but it is not obviously artistic in any way. On the other hand, each installation does have a story if you look closely. The client called and mentioned that they had noticed that my 'approach' left them feeling as if they were right on site, and so they are very comfortable making key decisions based on the photographs. It's not the stuff I normally do, but my vision is still in the photographs.
     
  9. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    I finally actually read Thom Hogan's piece - thank you again, Pelao. I think Thom would agree with us.:wink:
     
  10. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    Interesting little thinkpiece. Thanks, Pelao.
     
  11. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I definitely shoot for me. And even though its nice to have a body of finished images I like, I shoot for the enjoyment of the process more than the finished product. The whole process - from being out looking for things to shoot in my environment (wherever that happens to be at a given time), the act of shooting, the culling through images to see which ones are worth taking a shot at processing or just identifying as keepers straight OOC, and then the processing to make the image into what I saw when I was framing the shot - ALL of that's a blast. Its nice to occasionally get confirmation that other people like your work, but, really, once I've shot stuff and put it on Flickr or posted it here or on a couple of other forums, that's about as far as it goes. I rarely go back and spend time looking through my stuff. At the end of the year if i put together another book of my stuff from this year, that'll be time to separate the real wheat from all of the chaff, but its not like I spend a lot of time LOOKING at those books once I've made them - its good to know they're there, but I don't spend much time with my images after I've finished processing them.

    I have no clients. I've never sold anything. I can't imagine how I'd go about it or that it could bring in enough money to be worth the effort of trying. And I sort of fear what it might do to the process if I DID start selling work. If I made any conscious changes to the way I see and what I'm looking for out in the world, with an eye to selling more, it would be a net loss right there. I don't know that I'd do that, but I fear I might. And I have a couple of friends and relatives who are professional artists who do a lot of gallery shows and it seem like their lives are eaten up with the logistics around those things, which I have so much less than zero desire to ever have to deal with.... But I guess that's what they have to do to sell their work and keep their names out there.

    I guess I often go back to a quote I read by Jerry Garcia once when he was discussing the Grateful Dead's open taping policy. He said something to the effect of 'the show is all about the creative process to me, when your PLAYING the music, you and it are alive. Once we've finished playing the show, its over. That experience has been had. We're finished with THAT music and we'll play something totally different the next night. And once we're finished with it, they can do whatever they want with it - they can HAVE it". Which is probably why the Dead were such a great live band and made such crummy albums - it was all about the process of playing for them, not the process of perfecting and dubbing and mastering and marketing and whatnot. They just played music and were good enough at it to get paid (pretty well eventually), but they were less interested in all of the ancillary bullsh!t than just about anyone so I'm sure they didn't make near as much money as they could have if they'd really been into polishing their music into albums and play the whole music industry game. And they wouldn't have been the Dead otherwise.

    So even though I do my work in front of nobody and don't need to get paid for it, I sort of look at ti the same way. I love the process and feel very alive when I'm at any point in that creative process. And then I'm done. I don't really care about the product after its done. Its sort of nice to have a record of all the time I've spend enjoying the process, but that's about as far as the after life of one of my photos goes. Put it in a book so that I know I did it, or maybe someday my kids or grandkids will look through them and have a little fuller picture of who Dad or Grandpa was. Maybe.... No more than that.

    -Ray
     
  12. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    Ray, I think your legacy of prints/books will mean more than you think to your kids and grandkids. I know how much my parents' and even grandparents' photographs mean to me. This is one of the sticking points for me - I need to make myself get prints made or make a book...because I do want our daughter to have something real to have and to hold. So I guess I need to amend my first statement. I do like to "do it my way" and enjoy the process very much and feel very much the way you do in the creative way...but I also do want to leave some tracks for my daughter, and her children - is she ever has any.

    I will say that since the advent of iPhoto and now Lightroom that I do not print very often at all. I'm embarrassed by this and feel it's a real shortcoming and something I need to fix, for myself.
     
  13. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    I feel pretty much the same way as Ray, but with a slight difference, or perhaps difference. I print many of the photographs that really please me. I enjoy the technical aspects of printing. More importantly though, since I shoot for me, and am pleased with the results, I enjoy seeing them again. There is another aspect too, though it's only occasionally significant: seeing the photographs again opens my mind to patterns (which I might want to continue, or alter) or simply challenges me to see differently.

    To BBW's point: I find it very rare that a person who is pleased with one of their photographs does not get much greater and deeper joy from seeing it in print. In my view, the screen just does not do justice to a well made photograph. The photographs look good on screen, but some of the character is often obscured, and the environment (the site design, the appearance and aesthetics of computers and where they are located etc.) is not favorable to photographs. It does not necessarily harm them, but it does not allow them to reach their full expression.

    A little exercise: choose some of your favorites, say four to six photographs, and print reasonably large - 11 x 17 for example. Stick them on a wall and look from a distance and close up. It's very cool.

    When I see my prints, the memory comes back - of the process, as well as the place and time. It's a nice feeling.
     
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  14. ajramirez

    ajramirez SC All-Pro

    Jul 9, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    Antonio
    I could not agree more. I know this is a subject that has been discussed in other threads, but it is worth repeating here. There is nothing like a well made print that you can hold in your hand or look at hanging on the wall.

    Regards,

    Antonio
     
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  15. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    Thanks you guys, I have made some big prints from the LX5 and was impressed by that little camera's output! I need to do more but I don't like them that big...maybe because I have a small house?:wink: Still wishing I had a good border making tool...but I digress. I may bring up some of those old threads, Antonio - oh, and get some more pictures printed both individually and in a book form.
     
  16. Grant

    Grant SC Veteran

    249
    Nov 12, 2010
    Lunenburg Nova Scotia
    The obvious answer is "for me" but when I started thinking of it I know that isn’t completely true.

    If I shoot solely for me I would make the picture and be happy with it and I am never 100% happy with any picture I make. So if I’m not happy with what I do then I am not satisfying myself therefore not shooing solely for me. I like to be complemented by others! I like to be stroked! I really like it when someone of knowledge complements me. It is just in the end, as nice as this is, it doesn’t effect my feelings, my opinion or the directions I take in my art. Therefore i am not shooting for others.

    I know I am a good photographer but I want to be a better photographer. It is a bit of a competition, but not like I am better than Tom but I want to be better than Nancy. In fact it is not like I want to better than Grant or even I want to be the best Grant possible. H*ll, good or bad, there is only one me I can’t avoid that. It is just that I want to be better.

    For me shooting is all about this elusive Ideal of ascetics that I have. I am shooting for this lofty goal and I never seem to reach it. In the end I am driven this cruel mistress who is called ART. I shoot for an ideal.
     
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  17. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    Very cool sir.

    I get this, and would only add that in my case it delivers the same end result of shooting for me - because it is my ideal and my sense of art.
     
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  18. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    I am acutely aware that I work in a tradition set before me. This path chose me.
    Within the tradition comes the responsibility of sharing images, knowledge etc.
    Due to this fact, I try never to veer of the path, whether a paid project or not. I stay true to my vision because my vision is a melting pot of those that have influenced me.
    To veer off the path would be a disrespect.
    To veer off due to $$$, would be an insult.
     
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  19. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    At the end of the day you're always shooting for yourself first. Even with the intent of showing an image to an audience it still has to meet your own standards before it is released into cyberspace. However, even if you are happy with your own style it is human nature to seek reassurance that your work is still state-of-the-art or whatever similar term can be applied to photography. Sharing images can sometimes surprise you as well. An image that you thought was merely okay may prove to be a hit, and an image which you love may sink without a trace. If subjectivity like that doesn't prove that photography and image processing is a form of art then nothing will.
     
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  20. Djarum

    Djarum SC All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2010
    Huntsville, AL
    Jason
    For me, it depends on the situation. In many cases, I'm taking pictures of memories. Sometimes I'm expected to take pictures at events just for memories and things like that. I got into this hobby though because I generally enjoy the process, at least at the time I take the picture. Lately, it has been frustrating for me because I haven't been terribly happy with many of the images of late. Sometimes things seem look like a good idea at the time, and then I look at them when I get home and scratch my head saying "what was I thinking". So, I am my own worst critic. I think positive re-enforcement is a good thing especially if it is both sincere in critical. I get enough negative re-enforcement and do things expected of me at my job, I sure don't need those things in my hobby either, lol.
     
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