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Thread: Boring Photographs

  1. #71
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    Re: Boring Photographs

    Iím a bit late to this party, but I havenít seen blood flow yet, so, despite moderator tendencies (we donít want TRVTH, we want quiet!), Iíll bring it back. Mostly because itís been on my mind for several years now.

    Having spent years mastering certain techniques (and attaining mere competence in others), I have come to the conclusion that if there is anything inventive in my photos, itís sheer accident. Itís one reason I donít post muchóI feel like Iíve run out of steam.

    I look at the photos I made years ago, and barring the occasional accident, thereís just nothing there for me. My photos that excited me so much at the time look like all the other wannabe photos out there.

    Itís hard to sustain diligence in (difficult) technique when my portrayal of subjects is so uninteresting. I still love the technique, and love having developed it, but itís no longer enough.

    And so most of my prints are stacked in a closet. Facing a wall.

    In music, itís different. The invention is more in the composerís hands, and my job is mostly not to screw it up, and partly to let it play on my emotions in a public way. I have been working on two movements from the Bach ĎCello Suites for a couple of years, and Iím still not ready to be happy with the result. But the work remains compelling because of what Bach did. I donít want to perform itóthereís still too much of my screwing up and not enough Bach.

    Musicians can listen in rapt attention to a great artist playing practice-room scales, but their enjoyment may be based on technical appreciation as much as emotional response. To most, it would be boring, I suppose. Most musicians want to rise above that.

    For most people, photographs live or die on the subject. Those boring snapshots will excite historians someday, or family members right now. Thereís a reason that sunset photos are called ďyet another sunsetĒ on many forums, but they still excite those who are not jaded by having seen thousands of them. Like me.

    When I see a compelling subject, and I do frequently, Iím pretty sure at this point that it will not remain compelling in a photograph I would make, and I seem to lose whatís compelling about it in the exercise of technique. I keep screwing it up. Thereís still too much me and not enough subject. But much technique is devoted to adding the photographer to the subject as much as it is to avoid screwing up, though often in trite ways, as with canned software enhancements.

    I have so little understanding of what makes an emotional connection without depending on the subject that I wonder why I ever got into photography, despite the enjoyment of the technical exercise and the cool toys.

    Iím turning 60 this year. Itís not having a good effect.

    Rick ďmaybe a little too much TRVTHĒ Denney

  2. #72

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    Re: Boring Photographs

    " Having spent years mastering certain techniques (and attaining mere competence in others), I have come to the conclusion that if there is anything inventive in my photos, it’s sheer accident. It’s one reason I don’t post much—I feel like I’ve run out of steam.

    I look at the photos I made years ago, and barring the occasional accident, there’s just nothing there for me. My photos that excited me so much at the time look like all the other wannabe photos out there."

    I think Peter Henry Emerson said the same sort of things in the 1890's. I expect we are realizing that immortality is not gonna happen and we have yet to achieve peace of mind about it.
    Bill
    "There are a great many things I am in doubt about at the moment, and I should consider myself favoured if you would kindly enlighten me. Signed, Doubtful, off to Canada." (BJP 1914).

  3. #73

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    Re: Boring Photographs

    Rick
    Don't look now, but you got old
    When the end of film was announced I got out my 2D that I had for years but only sporadicaly used. I figured I'd ride out the last 5? 10? years until no film was available.
    I shot a lot of 6x17- the format attracted me account an early 8x10 neg I made
    Back then I wasn't so old. I loaded the film under a jacket in the backseat, schlepped the camera & tripod a short way into the desert and made a successful shot.
    Years later I found myself making the same old shots on 6x17, so see above.
    I just can't face making the same oldsameold, and or with fuzzy vision etc, screwing up
    It's Eclessiastes all over again
    A few years ago my older bro and I discussed our life's accomplishments in our chosen fields.
    We both had done a few at the time significant things. BUt he asked me if I thought I had done anything good in my career. I thought, and think not, nor did he in his.
    I have no cure to offer, just condolences
    Regards
    Ed

  4. #74

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    Re: Boring Photographs

    Photographs are inevitably tied to subject matter. If you're bored, or stuck, don't just take pictures that you've seen other people do, find a subject that interests you. Make a project about that subject. Set some parameters and stick to them... one film, one process, one camera size, one lens, one print size? but choose. Decide to work within those parameters. Shoot for a year and see what you get... then edit, put up a show, make a Blurb book, but finish that project.
    This business/artform/hobby is about pictures... not about gear and process. Put your hard-earned skills to work. You've learned the scales, now play some music.
    "The Subject Matters", to borrow from the late Bill Jay.

  5. #75
    Randy Moe's Avatar
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    Re: Boring Photographs

    I come to poetry lately as we all live in deep fear...

    Do not go gentle into that good night
    Dylan Thomas, 1914 - 1953


    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
    Because their words had forked no lightning they
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
    And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
    Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    And you, my father, there on the sad height,
    Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

  6. #76
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Boring Photographs

    Is everyone suffering from cabin fever?

  7. #77

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    Re: Boring Photographs

    Quote Originally Posted by rdenney View Post

    I have so little understanding of what makes an emotional connection without depending on the subject that I wonder why I ever got into photography, despite the enjoyment of the technical exercise and the cool toys.

    Iím turning 60 this year. Itís not having a good effect.

    Rick ďmaybe a little too much TRVTHĒ Denney
    For some time I was a member of a local camera club, with the results some of you might guess. Someone shows up with a black and white photo for critique and an unimaginative old guy with arms crossed says "I just don't like black and white." Period, end of thoughtful critique. Through the club I met a woman who is a serious photographer. Not in the sense that most of you might think of, given that her photos are (a) digital, (b) color, and often what many of us might think are pretty but (c) boring. But she's serious in that photography is a large and important part of her life. She's competent in composition and working her camera, and she seems to derive great enjoyment from photography.

    I ran across this woman a couple days ago, for the first time in several years. She was volunteering at the local art gallery, and killing time by putting together gift cards with her photographs. We conversed pleasantly for a bit, and the one thing I particularly remember her saying when she was telling me about sales of her work is "You just can't predict what people will like." I'd say her work is pretty "subject dependent" and SHE has no "understanding of what makes an emotional connection." So there you go.

    I'll be 60 on Super Bowl Sunday, so I'll be in your club!

  8. #78

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    Re: Boring Photographs

    My personal nomination for boring is where the photographer thinks that he has a good subject for a photograph, and thinking that this is enough, makes no effort to alert the viewer as to what that subject is, by framing, lighting, etc. This is common with both beginners who don't know better and advanced photographers who think they are being clever.
    Thanks, but I'd rather just watch:
    Large format: http://flickr.com/michaeldarnton
    Mostly 35mm: http://flickr.com/mdarnton
    You want digital, color, etc?: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stradofear

  9. #79

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    Re: Boring Photographs

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    Is everyone suffering from cabin fever?
    Very astute observation, Drew!

    I know I am.

  10. #80

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    Re: Boring Photographs

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    Is everyone suffering from cabin fever?
    It has to be. You would think they were in the Yukon in the middle of winter by the sounds of the moaning.
    The Viewfinder is the Soul of the Camera

    If you don't believe it, look into an 8x10 viewfinder!

    Dan

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