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Thread: My work vs Atget's

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Mar 2001
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    74

    My work vs Atget's

    I'm at this crossroad again that most of my passed & present work is really bad and fit for the garbage. This negative self-evaluation happened times before, bu t non as bad as this time. After giving so much, I'm thinking how little I've ac hieved (only a few photographs over eight years of serious work). When I think of Atget's photographs, they seemed so easy and effectlessly made. Looks like he is able to walk about, sees an ordinary thing, and place his camer a without being precisely concerned. He'll do that all over again and win. In hi s work I see dark corners (that I avoid at all cost or I'll be accused of copyin g), ordinary print standards (that I struggle to excel), and charm (that I don't see in my own photographs). What is it that he can see & do so 'freely' that I cannot? Is it a talent that c annot be trained? Is it compassion that one either has it or don't? Is it luck t hat he has more subjects to work on during his time? Is it 'perk-up' ideals that made me (and others) to believe he's so good? What is it?? Do I give up photogr aphy for good???

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Mar 1998
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    1,973

    My work vs Atget's

    I t is true , every image Atget made was perfect, and he made them all in a single six week period. All Bernice Abbot had to do , once she rescued the glass negatives, was make contact prints, no burning and no dodging, and no editing.

    Maybe it has to do with the factthat Atget was deeply in love and moved by his subject.

    Try reading "Rememberances of Things Past" by Proust.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Mar 2001
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    74

    My work vs Atget's

    Sorry, delete 'passed' and insert 'past'. Also 'effectlessly' for 'effortlessly'. Apology, Aaron

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jul 2001
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    77

    My work vs Atget's

    I think that there is a secret and I think that it is called having "a vision". I come to photography from graphic design and I know that when I have a design idea clearly visualised in my head, the artwork comes as you say effortlessly and freely. I think that Atget must have projected his "vision" or whatever you could call it, love for the places he photographed (you can feel it, no?).

    So maybe instead of worring about tech things, spelling, comparison with other photographers and all the stuff we get caught up in we could look for something real which we see and feel a need to express, then perhaps the tech stuff, the spelling mistakes, the opimum quality etc. won't matter?

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 1998
    Location
    Anchorage, AK
    Posts
    276

    My work vs Atget's

    Aaron,

    Don't compare yourself to Atget. As Ellis pointed out, he was a flash in the pan. Besides, what's he done lately?

    Perhaps you are looking outside of yourself for your satisfaction as a photographer. That's an easy trap to fall into when other photographers seem to always drop names about where they have been published and/or which gallery is hanging their prints or whatever. I never met Atget, but I suspect that while he liked the fame, he was driven more by an internal desire to make photographs. What would have happened had he not become famous? Would he still have made them? I tend to think so.

    A photogrpaher once told me about a friend of his who would go with him into the field and expose sheet after sheet of film. But he never developed one of them. The enjoyment for him was being there and going through the process of composing and determining the exposure.

    If you enjoy the process of being there, wherever "there" is, composing and exposing, and, what the heck, seeing the result (print or transparency), then it doesn't matter whether you're as good as some old French dude. Do it for yourself, first and foremost.

    By the way, if you want some dark corners in your photographs, then do it. You may with time end up twisting them in an unanticipated direction with surprizing results. Neither Atget nor I will accuse you of copying.

    Bruce

  6. #6

    My work vs Atget's

    Were the iconic Atget to have some of his famous prints posted to a critique forum, I could see the comments now - ?Vine - lacks middle tones, suffers from convergence? or ? St. Nicolas - nice, but there?s a hot spot in the URHC? or ?Charon Chateau - too much uninteresting foreground, and a little soft overall?. These prints sell for $5000- 6000 U.S. Go figure. Like many old prints, they have a certain charm, but their appeal lies mostly in the potential resale value. Technically, you?d probably outshoot him. His subject matter was commonplace, and repeatable.

    You?ll go crazy wondering if your work will ever be comparable, and there?s little point in speculating.

  7. #7

    My work vs Atget's

    Only a few good photographs in eight years? That's not too bad. Really. Ansel said one really good photograph per year was about right. Making photographs is easy. Making great photographs is difficult.

    Keep at it. Deep feelings for the subject does make a difference in the final product, so maybe a change in subject matter might be the key for you as an earlier contributor suggests

    When someone ir really good at something, it does look effortless. Watch an athlete, a dancer, listen to a musician. If they are talented, they make it look easy. Genius is 99% perspiration, so there is a lot of work involved in making great art. Eight years is not a long time to work at photography. Again referring to St. Ansel, he said something like you can't be a photographer until you have exposed 10,000 negatives. When he wrote that, sheet film was the primary way to make a negatives, so becoming a photographer is a lifetime thing.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Feb 1999
    Posts
    523

    My work vs Atget's

    Aaron... The advice to shoot for yourself is good. A well-known photographer once trashed one of my contact prints. My confidence took a nose dive, because the print looked pretty good to me. But then I realized that my judgements and opinions on photography are just as valid as his. He didn't like my work, but I do, and that's all that matters.

  9. #9

    My work vs Atget's

    Aaron: I am willing to bet that among your work you will find some fine images. Go back through them with an open mind and give them another good look. And forget about comparing what you do with someelse. You aren't in the same place and you don't have the same mind. Your mind might be better. Also, you don't know how many hundreds or thousands of negs Atget tossed in the garbage can to get the ones he kept. Even Saint Ansel said he had thousands of negs he had never printed. I suggest that you go back through your body of work, select a few negs that you like, and really concentrate on making a super print from each. Toss out all the "good enough" prints and make super prints. Then mount them and mat them properly. Prints always look much better properly displayed, whether in a book or proper mats. I honestly think you will find your work is better than you think. All of us at times get frustrated, but the key is to get in the darkroom and keep at it. You don't know how many times ol' Atget banged his head on the darkroom wall because a print would't bend to his will easily. The time to be most critical of your own work is when you are making the first prints in the darkroom. Then correct what is needed to make a fine print. One of my best ways of getting back on track when I'm in a slump is to give myself a self- assignment to get the best picture I can of a particular subject. The subject matter is not important, but getting back to the basics and trying my best to make a good image usually perks me up again. Above all, forget about Atget or whomever and concentrate on your own body of work.

    Regards,

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Posts
    77

    My work vs Atget's

    A good dose of parania about ones own work every now and agiain is a healthy thing, good time for editing and moving on. Tommorow is a new day.

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