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el pescador
14-Jul-2016, 11:02
Might seem a strange question but within photography do you ever get the feeling that everything you try to do has been done before, is there anything that would be completely new and revolutionary?

Nodda Duma
14-Jul-2016, 11:04
Some things are worth doing again and again...

Ted R
14-Jul-2016, 11:29
Yes there are completely new and revolutionary things to do with photography, you have to imagine them first, then do them.

One problem is that many people will probably laugh, and many will be uninterested, because it is new and revolutionary.

Kirk Gittings
14-Jul-2016, 11:36
Might seem a strange question but within photography do you ever get the feeling that everything you try to do has been done before, is there anything that would be completely new and revolutionary?

The first question is always not "has it been done before" but is "can I do something personally meaningful with this". If you can accomplish the latter the former question will be irrelevant to you and your audience.

Ari
14-Jul-2016, 11:44
The first question is always not "has it been done before" but is "can I do something personally meaningful with this". If you can accomplish the latter the former question will be irrelevant to you and your audience.

Exactly; I have a personal project about a topic that has been covered thousands of times, in all kinds of media, by scholars, artists and lay people, many of whom have done justice to it far better than I think I ever could.
But I'm determined to go through with it myself because of what it means to me.
And even though the ground has been well-covered, it hasn't been covered by me before, so at the very least I can make my small contribution.

Or, if you're just looking for kicks, you can go skydiving with your 8x10 Sinar P and get some good aerial stuff. :)

Sal Santamaura
14-Jul-2016, 11:55
Interesting question. My answer to it was a featured comment on one of Mike Johnston's The Online Photographer blog posts last week:


http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2016/07/the-dictionary-of-obscure-sorrows.html

Is that post what prompted the OP to initiate this thread? :)

el pescador
14-Jul-2016, 12:24
Interesting question. My answer to it was a featured comment on one of Mike Johnston's The Online Photographer blog posts last week:


http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2016/07/the-dictionary-of-obscure-sorrows.html

Is that post what prompted the OP to initiate this thread? :)

No I hadn't seen that post but its very pertinent

Randy Moe
14-Jul-2016, 12:31
I like Gordon Cahill's answer. http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2016/07/the-dictionary-of-obscure-sorrows.html

I love process way more than image. But with time images grow on one, particularly personal ones.

Many musicians/composers try to NOT hear other's music to gain clear sight.

Sal Santamaura is smart to not look at every LF image, I tend to look too much, not here, but what the public view. Photographic advertising trends catch and evolve.

And I wonder who can truly remember every nuance, style of any art. Worldwide.

Last night I watched John Sexton's videos. He maintains we don't shoot or capture anything, we make prints. That's also process with vision, as AA taught him.

Mr Sexton is fortunate to have found a mentor. Most don't.

Life is short, make prints as good as you can and be content.

Michael E
14-Jul-2016, 13:08
I guess it's possible to do something completely new with photography. Some people try too hard to pull it off. Many times, their images have no merit other than novelty. Other times, it is later discovered that somebody else had already done the same thing. Knocks the wind right out of the "novelty".

It's good to develop our art and craft and try to find new images. But it has to serve a purpose, it has to have higher goals than just being the first.

D. Bryant
14-Jul-2016, 13:18
Yes it's all been done before so pack up your equipment and ship it to me. I'll pay for the shipping fees :)

Bruce Watson
14-Jul-2016, 13:20
The first question is always not "has it been done before" but is "can I do something personally meaningful with this". If you can accomplish the latter the former question will be irrelevant to you and your audience.

YES! This! Well said Mr. Gittings.

rdenney
14-Jul-2016, 13:56
The first question is always not "has it been done before" but is "can I do something personally meaningful with this". If you can accomplish the latter the former question will be irrelevant to you and your audience.

If it weren't for this philosophy, I would have completely abandoned photography long ago. I just have no idea what constitutes "innovative". And I hate the way "art" finds itself as a slave to innovation, just because too many of us (me included) struggle to make traditional photos that have any meaning to let along anyone else.

It reminds me of music. A century ago and less, many composers had concluded that there was nothing left to be said in major and minor keys (two of the original "church modes"--scale patterns--developed centuries ago). They abandoned tonality altogether. But, as it turned out, there was still plenty to be said in major and minor keys, after all. It's just that they couldn't say it.

Rick "who takes very few photos any more, simply because personal meaning is often elusive" Denney

Two23
14-Jul-2016, 14:54
Until I start feeling like I'm in a rut with -my- photos, I don't worry about it.


Kent in SD

Peter De Smidt
14-Jul-2016, 15:11
"Everything that can be invented has been invented. " (Charles Duell, Commissioner of the U.S. Office of Patents, in trying to persuade President McKinley to abolish his office, 1899.)

mdarnton
14-Jul-2016, 16:46
I decided that it's all been done, but I wouldn't let that bother me. Instead, I'm documenting my tiny corner of the world, for myself.

jnanian
14-Jul-2016, 16:58
probably everything has been done before, even by me
but i don't really care because i haevn't photographed it before
since i haven't lived the moments i am photographing before.
light, time of day, everything changes so nothing is the same, even if it was photographed before.
if i photograph someting that looks similar to what i made before i have something to editwhen it comes time to edit ..

maybe you can photograph it better than the last person ( or you did the last time ).

DrTang
14-Jul-2016, 17:29
about every other month I feel like selling off all my crap and moving to a tropical island

then I remember that there are usually big spiders on tropical islands..

but eventually..I either return to normal..or return to insanity (whatever) - find some kind of photography or concept to rebel against and start shooting again

has it all been done before? oh probably..but people have short memories thank goodness

Jody_S
14-Jul-2016, 17:36
It may have all been done before, but has anyone done it as badly as I?

Wayne
14-Jul-2016, 19:17
The first question is always not "has it been done before" but is "can I do something personally meaningful with this". If you can accomplish the latter the former question will be irrelevant to you and your audience.

How does doing something that is personally meaningful make the question "has this been done before?" irrelevant to my audience?

Peter De Smidt
14-Jul-2016, 19:30
It's only speaking generally that there is nothing new under the sun. When we get to particulars, everything is new.

Merg Ross
14-Jul-2016, 20:30
A photographer familiar to Kirk and myself, said this in 1976 when responding to the question before us: "At this time in the history of photography, everything has been done. All the novelties have been done... All we have to look for now is, as a picture, does it move my heartstrings? If it does, why should I condemn it just because it happens to look like something Weston did?" .... Minor White, shortly before his death the same year.

Minor's comments take me back to an earlier time in my life as a photographer. I first photographed at Point Lobos in the early 1950's with a view camera, accompanying Edward Weston's son Brett to the location. We made a lot of excursions there. I was in my early teens and when I turned seventeen had taken up the 8x10. One morning I was at Weston Beach with Brett, both of us with 8x10's. I asked Brett, how could I photograph at a place he and his father had so well documented, and make a photograph of any significance. His answer, I carry with me today; Brett said, "everything has been photographed, simply see it your way".

Vaughn
14-Jul-2016, 20:37
How does doing something that is personally meaningful make the question "has this been done before?" irrelevant to my audience?
Dang, I was just about to agree with Kirk, and you throw in this interesting monkeywrench!

There are several audiences. Forgiving (or not) friends and family. The General and his public. People who follow your work, perhaps for many many years. Fellow professionals (or forum members). Professionals in the field that is the subject of your images. I think relevance will vary with the audience...and how well one can communicate ones meaning. So hopefully your audience is one that appreciates meaning as well as uniquiness (sp).

I consider myself lucky. I live in an incredibly beautiful natural area with the finest groves of redwoods within an hour's drive north or south. I learned photography under the redwoods. I have studied, planted, saved, hugged, climbed over, and slept under redwoods. I sort of like them. Sixty mile per hour windstorm a couple miles in on a ridge trail with trees still 250 + feet above...listening to limbs break and begin their hundred or two hundred foot drop -- thinking, "I don't think the college 4x5 monorail was a great idea today." Rain. Wind. Sun when I wanted fog. Hiking up the middle of the creek because the trails had seen no maintenance in 6 years. Being surrounded by elk in the middle of an exposure. And no one. No one at all.

The redwoods have not been subject to deep study much -- a lot of passer-bys, some great ones. Ansel published a few photos of this area as he passed through. I love his Bull Creek Flat image. Weston had a hell of a time with his long exposures under the redwoods and only got a few good images on his trip(s) through Humboldt County. Probably the only thing I could have ever offered him advice on, since I have wasted countless sheets of film for the same reasons. And I am certainly not the only local photographer. There have been some good color photographers as well...a couple I know probably know Prairie Creek as well as I do. But few have been able to dedicate the time and deeply study of the light that makes it way through centuries of redwoods and reflects off the rain forest floor.

But with the amount of time I have spent photographing and walking under the redwoods, it has me thinking -- have I done this before? Sometimes yes and sometimes the same scene -- with a different format (I sort of look at it as enlarging the same negative to a different size print). I bring the experience of working with the same image and use it with a different format and new light. Sometimes decades later. But generally the question drives me to see more intently as I hike thru the trees.

My Yosemite work is also partially driven by "It has all been done before." What a challenge! After the fact, I have found 'my' images in the books of other more noteworthy photographers. Alas! (see Plate 46 in Listen to the Trees) Well, I still like mine better... But there is no reason for me to photograph in Yosemite Valley except to extract personal meaning or to celebrate the light, or whatever inspires me to set up the camera. Why make another image of Half Dome, unless I strive to make it my own.

LabRat
15-Jul-2016, 02:19
It's not the subject, it's what you bring to it, or what it reveals to you and the viewer...

Steve K

N Dhananjay
15-Jul-2016, 06:38
In motivational research, there is a technique called laddering which involves asking "Why is that important?" to any attribute (e.g., "making original art") that is stated to be important in a decision or activity (e.g., painting or photography). The point is that if you can answer the question (e.g. "because I want to be famous and admired"), it means the attribute or activity is only important as a means to an end - it is not motivating in and of itself. So, if you are asked 'Why do you photograph?" and you answer "To make money" - it is making money that is the actual motivation and you should look at other activities that might do this more efficiently or effectively. An actual motivation reveals itself in an inability to answer the question.

I think we can often get preoccupied with other things - fame, making a living, stroking one's ego etc. But a truly motivating activity is motivating in and of itself. That is why we get it at some level when we hear George Mallory's response to "Why do you climb the mountain?" - "Because it is there." We recognize that explaining the motivation for doing something that speaks to us deeply is not possible - in some sense, we do it to find out about ourselves and our motivations, what makes us tick.

In other words, just do it. And let other things like fame, making a living take care of themselves or attend to them independently.

Cheers, DJ

ic-racer
15-Jul-2016, 07:38
It is difficult to make identical images, so unique photography is easy. Too easy; sometimes imitation, quoting famous images and re-photography can be more of an intellectual challenge.

rdenney
15-Jul-2016, 08:16
So, I followed Sal's link to TOP and then to the definition being discussed there (I forget the actual word, but it essentially the concern expressed by the OP--the futility of making the photos others have made. A simile in that definition struck me:

"...like a mass-produced piece of furniture you happen to have assembled yourself."

But I think that assembly matters. Is it an IKEA bookshelf that required six turns of a screwdriver? That may bring satisfaction to a novice, but to me it's just work. Is it simply crafted from hardwood boards? That would bring satisfaction to me (it both tests my skills and fits my aesthetic), but would be just work to a master cabinetmaker. Part of the satisfaction is mastering techniques that serve one's intentions. I don't think the difficulty of the technique imbues any independent artistic merit (we've had that discussion before), but it greatly enhances my personal satisfaction.

The intentions are where the meaning comes in. I have passed on many photos that I knew I could execute technically because there was nothing about the scene that struck me. I don't need to put it into words--if I did I'd need to be a writer rather than a photographer. But I do need to feel something about the scene. It may be a grand feeling or a simple one, buts genome not feeling anything, I leave the camera in the case.

So what if someone else has felt the same thing? That doesn't invalidate my feelings, or the feelings of the person to whom I am communicating, who may never have felt that or who may find I give them more access to that feeling that other similar works. We sometimes think that our audience is as knowledgeable of the work of others as we are, or that they have access to it even if they know about it. And I still hear performances of music composed 400 years ago that moves me afresh, so expressions of feelings must be a bit like snowflakes.

When I purposely copy what others have done, those feelings are being translated too many times, perhaps. Adams felt something about a scene, and communicated that feeling to me in the photograph he made. I then try to convey that feeling again by making the same photo, which is the result of me purposely trying to duplicate something that I have seen. That may be useful as an exercise, but my result will probably be like butter spread over too much bread. Or a mechanical performance of a great musical composition, where the result depends wholly on the composer and gets nothing from the performer.

But when I purposely try to be innovative for the sake of innovation, the result is foolish and contrived. And I have learned that when I try to make "art" I end up with image titles that start with "yet another...".

So, I try to follow my own feelings, no matter who invented the technique I'm using, and regardless of who may have felt it before. That is a much bigger challenge than technique, and it has stymied me for long periods. Most of my photos of often-photographed places end up not looking like anyone else's, but that doesn't mean they are any good. Often, my time there isn't when the window to my feelings is even open. The great photographers have struggled with that, too, which is why we usually don't see that much of their total work output.

Rick "who struggles to feel on demand" Denney

Peter Lewin
15-Jul-2016, 12:51
The first issue is that even this thread has been done before! I couldn't think of the right terms for the search engine, but exactly this question has been asked previously on the LFPF, and the answers were very similar to those posted in this version of the thread. But that doesn't make the current responses any less valid, and in putting our thoughts together, most of us are "starting fresh." Exactly the same applies to many of our photographs, even though they too have been done before.

In his very well phrased response, Kirk used the phrase "personally meaningful" and Rick uses both the words "where the meaning comes in" and "follow my own feelings." My own favorite word in this context is "resonates," in the sense that I will make the photograph if the scene/subject "resonates with me," meaning that it causes some sort of emotional response, even if the response is as facile as "that will make a nice picture" (the feeling I usually have when viewing white clapboard buildings, since I only work in black & white ...). Another way of saying it that I make pictures for my own enjoyment, which is largely independent of whether someone else has made the same image for their own reasons. The one exception is that having a pretty good library of photo books (4 shelves worth), if I realize that something I am looking at, say the church in Taos, N.M., has been photographed by Adams, Weston, and many others, I do make an effort not to exactly duplicate the image. But that rarely happens.

I actually thought about this very subject recently when I saw a picture of an Anasazi ruin on one of the Large Format Facebook groups I belong to. The ruin is called the "Fallen Roof Ruin" in Utah. The posted image was very well done, but it reminded me very much of a similar image in John Sexton's "Places of Power," and I asked the photographer if he was familiar with Sexton's version. While the two were almost identical, his answer was "no," so his image was meaningful to him, even if I was aware "it had been done before." And doing a Google search, I found it has been "done before" by quite a few photographers. Yet, were I to be at that ruin in Utah, I too would make a similar image, because I always find Anasazi ruins "meaningful" (yup, they "resonate" with me.) And while I might also try to find an original point of view, from what I've read the ledge is small, and probably everyone ends up using "the same tripod holes." But I bet that wouldn't stop most of us from unpacking the 4x5 or 8x10 and going to work, I know it wouldn't stop me!

Randy Moe
15-Jul-2016, 13:07
Everyday's a new day. Ancient ruins crumble before us.

Last night watched PBS King Herod's Herodium, which has both lasted and not.

Just knowing of it, resonates

Ken Lee
15-Jul-2016, 15:41
http://www.kenleegallery.com/images/forum/RingTheBell.jpg

If a work reaches a pinnacle of inspiration, it rings the bell. If we're lucky, we get to ring the bell.

http://www.kenleegallery.com/images/forum/MonetHaystacks.jpg

Some fortunate artists (like Monet) can ring the bell over and over.

It didn't seem to bother Monet that he repeated even himself. Just ringing the bell was enough.

Drew Wiley
15-Jul-2016, 16:31
A couple summers back, slightly below Kearsarge Pass on the Kings Canyon side, I stumbled smack onto the exact spot AA took a famous shot. Since it was a
convenient large granite slab, I set up my own tripod on what could have been his own tripod marks. The lighting was similar, and the perspective identical. Ho
hum. Then I looked over my shoulder and thought to myself, how the heck did he miss THAT?!! So my shot was indeed from the same spot, but the subject in the
opposite direction. I like my shot a lot better.

David Karp
15-Jul-2016, 16:43
The first question is always not "has it been done before" but is "can I do something personally meaningful with this". If you can accomplish the latter the former question will be irrelevant to you and your audience.

I think after seeing this question discussed from many angles over the years that this is the best response I have seen.

Carleton Watkins came to Yosemite and made photographs of the valley containing El Capitan and Half Dome. So based on the "Its already been done" theory I guess that should have been it. That would mean no Clearing Winter Storm and other wonderful photographs and that would be a loss for us all.

And despite all of the times that that scene has been photographed, wouldn't anyone who sees it know it needs to be photographed, even if they had never seen the work of Adams or Watkins or anyone else? I have photographed it many times and its not enough for me. And I somehow always find something I have never photographed when I am there too. Heck, sometimes just looking through the camera and clicking the shutter without a holder in the back makes me happy. :-)

Personally, I could care less if "it" has ever been done before.

Mark Sawyer
15-Jul-2016, 16:54
Has it all been done before? Hell no, not even close...

David Karp
15-Jul-2016, 16:57
A couple summers back, slightly below Kearsarge Pass on the Kings Canyon side, I stumbled smack onto the exact spot AA took a famous shot. Since it was a
convenient large granite slab, I set up my own tripod on what could have been his own tripod marks. The lighting was similar, and the perspective identical. Ho
hum. Then I looked over my shoulder and thought to myself, how the heck did he miss THAT?!! So my shot was indeed from the same spot, but the subject in the
opposite direction. I like my shot a lot better.

Hah! That is a good one.

Once I was at Mirror Lake with my dad. It was winter and there was water, some of it covered with ice. There was a nice reflection that included Mt. Watkins and the water. The sky was patchy clouds when I got there, but changing fast. By the time I had my camera on the tripod the sky was white. I have always wanted a nice photo of Mt. Watkins just because it was named after Watkins, but never have gotten one. I thought I would wait for the clouds to break up and get a nice photo. We sat and talked. Eventually another LF photographer came by with a 4x5 Wisner (was it one of you guys? It was the first Wisner I ever saw in person.) and the three of us talked some more. Then I went back to my camera for a moment and looked back at my dad.

I asked him what the heck he was doing in my picture, could he move his Canon and tripod out of my way? There is a set of granite steps that lead up to a little area where you can sit on the boulders and have a nice family picnic. We have done that over the years. The steps and rocks were covered in spots with ice and snow. It was a really neat view, with lots of different textures. The steps kind of zig zagged up and out, so I was really excited. I was low, where there is some dirt below the granite edge of the path, right up against where there used to always be water before they let the lake turn into the meadow. It was a very different perspective of the area than you usually get when you are walking and pretty much looking down at it. From that low vantage point, I was looking straight at the granite steps. I switched the back to vertical and made one of my favorite photos ever. Its just a detail of some rocks and steps, but to me it is really cool and I would never have seen it if I wasn't first trying to take an oft-photographed scene.

Its really about being open to seeing and taking the photo that the surroundings and the light want to give you. Sometimes we are too focused on creating something we already had in our mind before we headed out the door.

Jim Jones
15-Jul-2016, 17:10
Many of today's photographs could not possibly been taken in my youth many decades ago. Consider digital photography, the Polaroid camera, the Hubble telescope, holography, and more. Today's youth will see progress I cannot even imagine. Each tiny increment and each giant step contributes to this. We all do what we can.

Ari
15-Jul-2016, 18:45
Very well put, Jim.

tgtaylor
15-Jul-2016, 22:58
On my first visit to Yosemite I was in complete awe of Half Dome and as darkness approached I stood in the meadow with a Pentax K1000 trying to image it - unsuccessfully as it turned out, because I didn't have the photographic know-how back then - and was equally awed by the fact that I was the only one who was taking notice notice of this awe- inspiring sight (lol). Yep, my first acquaintance with Half Dome was not through books, pictures or word of mouth but first hand, live and in person. Looking back I feel foolish or stupid for not knowing about such an icon as Half Dome back then but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. For me it was a true moment of discovery notwithstanding that I later discovered that Half Dome was common knowledge.

Carleton Watkins and Ansel Adams are two of my favorite photographers and I along with them made prints of this same scene:

Yosemite Valley from Inspiration Point - Carleton Watkins, 1865/66

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c7/Carleton_Watkins_(American_-_Yosemite_Valley_from_Inspiration_Point_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Yosemite Valley from Inspiration Point - Ansel Adams

http://shop.anseladams.com/v/vspfiles/photos/17740111s-2.jpg

Finally mine:

http://spiritsofsilver.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/Valley_View.168213044_large.jpg

Me? I like mine the best followed very closely by Watkins-of which the online version is a poor reproduction.

Thomas

stawastawa
15-Jul-2016, 23:35
An actual motivation reveals itself in an inability to answer the question.

Thanks DJ, An interesting perspective and tool to use in examining the things we do and how we do them.



The first issue is that even this thread has been done before! ...
In his very well phrased response, Kirk used the phrase "personally meaningful" and Rick uses both the words "where the meaning comes in" and "follow my own feelings." My own favorite word in this context is "resonates," in the sense that I will make the photograph if the scene/subject "resonates with me," meaning that it causes some sort of emotional response...

Well summed up and thinks for reminding us this topic too has been done before, but in having it now we are doing it fresh, and some of use truly for the first time.



Many of today's photographs could not possibly been taken in my youth many decades ago. Consider digital photography, the Polaroid camera, the Hubble telescope, holography, and more. Today's youth will see progress I cannot even imagine. Each tiny increment and each giant step contributes to this. We all do what we can.

I heard someone say we will be making photographs of gravity waves soon. and maybe that large Hadron collider will make some nice pictures one day too.

Leszek Vogt
16-Jul-2016, 01:12
Strangely enough, I tend to explore (lift those proverbial rocks) and always find things that are bit off & interesting...and never dwell on this question (OP). Hmmm, its quite easy (yes, it's about the frame of mind) to de-iconize the world around and make your own.


Les

Peter De Smidt
16-Jul-2016, 07:13
My European Civilization professor, Robert Lerner, said this on the first day of glass: "Many people say that one studies history so as not to allow it to repeat itself, but that's wrong. History never repeats itself." There may be similarities between states-of-the-world, but there's also tremendous change, even from moment to moment. As Heraclitus said, "You can never step into the same river twice."

Ken Sinclair
16-Jul-2016, 16:34
I was 'taking' a studio course a few years ago.... at the final critique one of the senior students 'implied' that a couple of the prints that one of the class had hung. "Those have all been been 'done before'". There was about 20 seconds of silence and the student whose work was 'in critique" replied "Yes they have... but this time they have been 'right'".

I was so close to applauding his responce... but decided it was really up to the prof to say something before me.

Ken

Doremus Scudder
17-Jul-2016, 10:44
I haven't read the entire thread but I'd like to add this comment anyway.

Originality is highly overrated.

Strive for excellence. Let yourself be inspired by and learn from work from the past that speaks to you and moves you. Do work that is important and meaningful for you and, if you are exceptional and in the right place at the right time, you'll be famous.

Trying to be different for its own sake is a dead end.

Best,

Doremus

Maris Rusis
17-Jul-2016, 15:57
Well said Doremus. And novelty is highly overrated too; even to the point of being fetishised in much modern art commentary.

rdenney
17-Jul-2016, 16:40
Well said Doremus. And novelty is highly overrated too; even to the point of being fetishised in much modern art commentary.

And academia.

Rick "with the obvious exceptions, of course" Denney

DennisD
17-Jul-2016, 21:45
The first question is always not "has it been done before" but is "can I do something personally meaningful with this". If you can accomplish the latter the former question will be irrelevant to you and your audience.



.... One morning I was at Weston Beach with Brett, both of us with 8x10's. I asked Brett, how could I photograph at a place he and his father had so well documented, and make a photograph of any significance. His answer, I carry with me today; Brett said, "everything has been photographed, simply see it your way".


Everyone's thoughts on this topic are important, interesting and meaningful.

I, too, have grappled with "this has been done before" -- especially in locations where a "famous tripod" once landed.
That said, the above quotes parallel my own thought and strike home.

Thank you, Kirk for your insight -
Thank you, Merg for relating your experience -
With special appreciation to Brett Weston who, in 5 words, said it very well....

"Simply See It Your Way"

N Dhananjay
18-Jul-2016, 01:33
Nicely said, Doremus. If you set out to be original, the originality is a reaction to what came before, in which case it is not really original, is it? And more to the point, you do not learn anything or grow because you know what you are going to do before you do it (which again means it can't truly be original).

You become truly original as a result of finding yourself and the work you do helps you to find yourself. In other words, true originality is an emergent phenomenon.

Cheers, DJ

Drew Wiley
19-Jul-2016, 15:44
Next month if I hold out under my heavy load long enough, I'll be crossing another spot where AA made a very famous shot of a meadow, with a peak in the background eventually named after him. Well, he allegedly set up his camera right there to commemorate a famous photographic perspective taken forty years before by the pioneering Sierra explorer Solomons, who got a peak named after himself significantly earlier, in another section of the range. It's certainly not a
heavily visited spot, being well into the back country; but no matter where you put your camera, trees and water have changed, so the picture will inherently come out differently. Even the pools in AA's shot have since been filled in with meadow. On a bookshelf I've got a volume with Vittoria Sella's famous shot of Jannu on the border of Sikkim and Nepal. Beside it is another volume where Shirakawa took the effort to find that exact location, wait out the severe weather,
and take a shot of his own honoring Sella. One can easily see it's exactly the same perspective. But each put their own flavor into the scene. That's all that counts.

Alan Gales
21-Jul-2016, 11:34
Next month if I hold out under my heavy load long enough, I'll be crossing another spot where AA made a very famous shot of a meadow, with a peak in the background eventually named after him. Well, he allegedly set up his camera right there to commemorate a famous photographic perspective taken forty years before by the pioneering Sierra explorer Solomons, who got a peak named after himself significantly earlier, in another section of the range. It's certainly not a
heavily visited spot, being well into the back country; but no matter where you put your camera, trees and water have changed, so the picture will inherently come out differently. Even the pools in AA's shot have since been filled in with meadow. On a bookshelf I've got a volume with Vittoria Sella's famous shot of Jannu on the border of Sikkim and Nepal. Beside it is another volume where Shirakawa took the effort to find that exact location, wait out the severe weather,
and take a shot of his own honoring Sella. One can easily see it's exactly the same perspective. But each put their own flavor into the scene. That's all that counts.

There was this famous image of St. Louis shot at night from East St. Louis through the Eads bridge. I don't know the photographer but it was a beautiful shot. A good friend of mine copied the photo exactly, framed it, mounted it on a wall and then bragged about what a great photograph he took. I called it plagiarism.

The Arch here in St. Louis has been photographed millions of times. Joel Meyerowitz did a book on his photographs of the arch. He did put his own spin on the images. I have a couple of my own images that look different from any I've seen. Whatever you shoot, I feel that you have to make it your own. If you can do that then it hasn't been done before.

jnanian
21-Jul-2016, 12:38
hi alan
why does one have to do it in a way that hasn't been done before ?
i have read hundreds and hundreds of posts of people who hunt down
tripod holes so they can photograph something the same way someone else did.
some people who work for newspapers even have sections dedicated to their "then and now"
series where they rephotograph an exact scene from the exact place as it was done a handful of years
previously. and then of course they go on and on and on about how the city is a living breathing organism
like a park or whatever.
plenty of questions " how do i make my photographs look like this one .." too
while i don't really make it a point to seek out tripod holes
or POV of other photographers or their styles &c .. it seems
people have a certain satisfaction doing that sort of thing.
in art school student-painters are told to go to the museum and copy someone else's work from what i remember
( not sure if they still do that "exercise" ) and there is a whole bunch of art made by "copyists" ...

if it makes someone happy i figure they are going to do it for just that reason, whether they are ripping someone off
or doing something cheezy or don't know any better or peer pressure / social media says otherwise
... if that person isn't selling something and claiming it was done by someone else why not.

Drew Wiley
21-Jul-2016, 12:49
It works both ways. I can walk out the door right now and see the Golden Gate Bridge. I see it every day. On the weekends I am often close to it on the Marin side.
Millions and millions of pictures have been taken it. But I've never taken even one! Yet the point is, I am not even trying to avoid it photographically, even if it has become a worldwide icon or cliche. So if I do happen to spot a personal composition that otherwise works well with the bridge in the scene, so be it. Until that happens, I'll just keep pointing my camera some other direction. I really don't care what others have done with it.

Alan Gales
21-Jul-2016, 14:04
hi alan
why does one have to do it in a way that hasn't been done before ?
i have read hundreds and hundreds of posts of people who hunt down
tripod holes so they can photograph something the same way someone else did.
some people who work for newspapers even have sections dedicated to their "then and now"
series where they rephotograph an exact scene from the exact place as it was done a handful of years
previously. and then of course they go on and on and on about how the city is a living breathing organism
like a park or whatever.
plenty of questions " how do i make my photographs look like this one .." too
while i don't really make it a point to seek out tripod holes
or POV of other photographers or their styles &c .. it seems
people have a certain satisfaction doing that sort of thing.
in art school student-painters are told to go to the museum and copy someone else's work from what i remember
( not sure if they still do that "exercise" ) and there is a whole bunch of art made by "copyists" ...

if it makes someone happy i figure they are going to do it for just that reason, whether they are ripping someone off
or doing something cheezy or don't know any better or peer pressure / social media says otherwise
... if that person isn't selling something and claiming it was done by someone else why not.


Hi John,

I should have elaborated more in my post.

I didn't mind that my friend took the same shot. I even gave him due credit for how well he copied the image.His exposure and framing were perfect. It was just that he was bragging to others about how great his shot was and made out to others like it was his own which it wasn't.

I had recently taken a shot of St. Louis at night from East St. Louis too. The St. Louis Cardinals football team were playing Monday Night Football so all the buildings were lit up for the TV broadcast. My friend told me that his night shot was better than mine. I replied that at least mine was my own. ;)

Yes, this was all back in the 80's. No more Big Red and no more Rams now.

fishbulb
21-Jul-2016, 14:32
Even this conversation has been done before.

"There's nothing new under the sun." Ecclesiastes 1:9. circa 200 BC

DennisD
21-Jul-2016, 18:27
What's truly amazing about this thread...
--- How it keeps going around in circles !

Randy Moe
21-Jul-2016, 19:35
Spirals, we are never in the same space and time.


What's truly amazing about this thread...
--- How it keeps going around in circles !

Kirk Gittings
21-Jul-2016, 20:59
What's truly amazing about this thread...
--- How it keeps going around in circles !

All threads go in circles because no one reads all the previous posts :}

Merg Ross
21-Jul-2016, 21:57
All threads go in circles because no one reads all the previous posts :}

I have, Kirk.

In particular, #4 and #21, several times.

Cheers,
Merg

mangabdul02
22-Jul-2016, 00:23
I guess it's possible to do something completely new with photography. Some people try too hard to pull it off.
http://hautavis.net/146/o.png

jnanian
22-Jul-2016, 03:49
there are only so many ways to make / use a stencil.

Michael E
22-Jul-2016, 04:10
why does one have to do it in a way that hasn't been done before ?

The initial question was not whether you'd HAVE to work in a new, never seen before, way. Many people here have chimed in to say that you don't. The question was if you CAN work in a new, never before seen, way. If you wanted to (for whatever reason), would you have a chance? Or has it all been done before?

Speaking for myself, I'm not much of an inventor, but more of an observer, a chronologist. I am comfortable within the boundaries of traditional photography, because I have not reached them yet in my work. Maybe I want to cross them when I get there. But I would have a hard time coming up with something completely new.

What could be the next new thing? Photography today is highly diversified, ranging from over-produced and photoshopped "perfect" photos to avant-garde art that looks like the first couple of exposures on a new roll of 35mm film, unconsciously snapped away to advance the film to frame 1. Hard to imagine that either road can be taken much further. Cell phones are doing for photography what the Kodak did 120 years ago. The results are nothing that hasn't been done before, though. Judging from the role YouTube and teenage YouTube "stars" play for my 12 y.o. son (compared to traditional television), cell phones and social media will define the look of photography for the next generation. Maybe it can offer more truly new things than millions of selfies and food porn.

Jim Jones
22-Jul-2016, 06:36
We all have in our lives a multitude of subjects that we alone can photograph, enough to keep us busy forever. Yet it is good to seek those special subjects that attract countless others. It may be in hopes of doing better than anyone before, or just to have a record of our being there. Even Ansel Adams may well have been aware of Timothy O'Sullivan's magnificent rendition of the Canyon de Chelly when he made two photographs from a similar position. Alas, O'Sullivan did it better.

Drew Wiley
22-Jul-2016, 10:14
Of course he was aware of O'Sullivan's work, and even praised it. What Sullivan did so wonderfully is work with dark shapes defined by those old blue-sensitive plates, as opposed to Adams bringing out details in the sky with pan films and colored filters. Different tools. For the same reason, my favorite shot of the El Capitan monolith in Yosemite was the one done by Muybridge using blue sensitive plates which accentuated the sheer mass of the thing. There's a print of it in the Oakland Museum. I often borrow from both worlds. We've all obviously inherited the newer era of mainly panchromatic films; but these can be bent to accentuate
the effect of atmosphere, scale, distance and graphic form, just as haze can be cut through using minus-blue filters like orange and red, or anything in between.

Jac@stafford.net
22-Jul-2016, 11:44
Not a first, but a 'picture', self portrait made when between dark rooms. No darkness, no camera used. 4x5 film pressed in daylight against face lightly oiled, processed in daylight, then later contact printed.

Self Portrait

153172

jnanian
22-Jul-2016, 11:47
Not a first, but a 'picture', self portrait made when between dark rooms. No darkness, no camera used. 4x5 film pressed in daylight against face lightly oiled, processed in daylight, then later contact printed.

Self Portrait

153172

that's beautiful !

Randy Moe
22-Jul-2016, 11:54
Very interesting!

I have a fired ceramic mask made the same way.


Not a first, but a 'picture', self portrait made when between dark rooms. No darkness, no camera used. 4x5 film pressed in daylight against face lightly oiled, processed in daylight, then later contact printed.

Self Portrait

153172

Jac@stafford.net
22-Jul-2016, 13:06
Very interesting!

I have a fired ceramic mask made the same way.

Very cool! I hope it is possible to see it someday.

jnanian
22-Jul-2016, 15:59
jac+randy
mine was made using adhesive tape against my face

Alan Gales
22-Jul-2016, 22:29
Jac and John, you just showed photographs that have never been done before. :)

K. Praslowicz
17-Aug-2016, 18:07
... do you ever get the feeling that everything you try to do has been done before...y?

Yes. But that was all in the past when things looked different.

Patrick13
18-Aug-2016, 18:26
The real question is not whether it has all been done before but whether all the elements that have been done before have been curated and edited to create a message like this before.
And even then, if that grouping has been done before has it been presented to this group of people to form their opinions of the message before?

Infinite possibilities.

Christopher Barrett
18-Aug-2016, 18:30
Everything has been done. There are no new ideas, no original ideas. If you look at the contemporary art world, a lot of it focuses on appropriation. Originality has become irrelevant. Though, Kirk and I, who have both spent a lot of time at the School of the Art Institute, may have a skewed perspective on this.

tgtaylor
19-Aug-2016, 10:02
If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. - Isaac Newton.

Thomas

Ken Sinclair
19-Aug-2016, 10:45
What's truly amazing about this thread...
--- How it keeps going around in circles !

and someone also said.... "blessed are those who keep going around in circles.... for they shall be known as wheels"

Ken

Kirk Gittings
19-Aug-2016, 13:48
Everything has been done. There are no new ideas, no original ideas. If you look at the contemporary art world, a lot of it focuses on appropriation. Originality has become irrelevant. Though, Kirk and I, who have both spent a lot of time at the School of the Art Institute, may have a skewed perspective on this.

:) indeed

Drew Wiley
19-Aug-2016, 15:46
I'm convinced that lots of young professionals haunt art museums just to meet potential mates, and only pretend to look at the art.

Jim Jones
19-Aug-2016, 19:02
Even if it has been done before, it can be done better if we try to do it better rather than merely copy it.

LabRat
19-Aug-2016, 19:37
Modern people tend to see things through the filter of now, so what's old is new...

Steve K

Alan Gales
20-Aug-2016, 09:51
I'm convinced that lots of young professionals haunt art museums just to meet potential mates, and only pretend to look at the art.

There is nothing wrong with that. It sure beats the bar scene.

Jac@stafford.net
20-Aug-2016, 14:54
Everything has been done. There are no new ideas, no original ideas. If you look at the contemporary art world, a lot of it focuses on appropriation. Originality has become irrelevant. Though, Kirk and I, who have both spent a lot of time at the School of the Art Institute, may have a skewed perspective on this.

I accept that assertion with respect. Thank you.

In my experience/opinion a person who persists with consistence upon a very different tack or jibe with their photography deserves serious consideration. IMO it is about devotion to a special vision, for better or worse.

Best,
Jac

Randy Moe
20-Aug-2016, 15:24
I accept that assertion with respect. Thank you.

In my experience/opinion a person who persists with consistence upon a very different tack or jibe with their photography deserves considerable consideration. IMO it is about devotion to a special vision, for better or worse.

Best,
Jac

I gotta agree. I find the viewpoint that there is nothing new possible in Art, Life, Science even Spirituality very sad and problematical for educators. All that runs together, there is no boundary or limit to what we do and evolve into.

Do folks really think, we have seen the last Plato, Aristotle, D'Vinci, Patton, Einstein, Tesla, Gandhi and the photographic Gods have done it all? Every story has been told? King Lear forever and ever.

How do we stand on the shoulders of giants, if we not become their successors and provide new shoulders?

Dream bigger! Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (http://www.rjgeib.com/thoughts/proud/proud1.html)

Damnit!

LabRat
20-Aug-2016, 16:20
So if the general attitude of today is that there is nothing new (box thinking), does this not present new opportunities for a fresh vision/viewpoint???

Steve K

Jac@stafford.net
20-Aug-2016, 16:36
So if the general attitude of today is that there is nothing new (box thinking), does this not present new opportunities for a fresh vision/viewpoint???

Steve K

It does not just present new opportunities - it affirms its existence! Nature cannot die: it evolves, and that includes the vector of the very fundamental creation-spirit of humankind. Art is evidence, the expression, assertion of our nature, for better or worse.
.

csxcnj
21-Aug-2016, 08:33
It's only speaking generally that there is nothing new under the sun. When we get to particulars, everything is new.

This right here.

To take a look at it outside of photography, I make a fried chicken that causes a reaction after the first bite of "oh my God" " this is incredible" " I've never had anything like this" and the chicken being devoured to the bone. When asked how I came up with my version I'm honest and reply " a little Of this chef, a bit of that chef, a dash of this technique, a splash of that and four years of having a mental picture of what I was after and finally nailing it".

Now surely somewhere out there is fried chicken as good as and similar to mine. Fried chicken has been around for a long time. But people who don't know me (so I know it isn't just polite feedback) have said its the best they've ever had. I can't sell it yet but I make it at cost for friends having parties. It served as a good source of feedback that helped me refine the recipe. Like portfolio reviews.

It's my fried chicken but I owe it in part to the work and skill of people who had their vision and shared their knowledge.

Stamp of approval. Antione, a buddy of mine who runs a popular roadside BBQ stand, reacting to his first piece of my chicken since last fall. He eats fried chicken between slices of bread. When I asked why he said it was how they ate it growing up.

Randy Moe
21-Aug-2016, 08:45
Some are tracing 'Art' way back in time.

Way way back...Prehistoric Art Timeline (2.5 Million - 500 BCE) (http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/prehistoric-art-timeline.htm)