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Thread: On the influence of LF upon the moral faculty

  1. #1
    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
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    On the influence of LF upon the moral faculty

    What's your view about the influence of our LF work upon morality?

    That sounds like an impossibly broad question, so let's narrow the term just a little, and say "photographic morality."

    For comparison, one might more easily describe the influence of LF on, say, one's mathematical faculty, or on one's aesthetic faculty – for example, leading to a better understanding about light on one hand, or a deeper (or finer) appreciation of beauty on the other.

    But do you believe there's a relationship between LF work and personal photographic morality? If you do, can you describe it? And if you don't, can you describe why?

    For example, in many of my images, I'm trying to portray for myself – or communicate to others – a certain type of truth, and the more successful I am, the more "moral" I think I've been. Now, I don't mean literal visual truth. (Plenty of threads here, and plenty of philosophical claims too, that doubt the existence of literal visual truth for any one set of human eyes, and I don't mean to go there.)

    The type of truth I mean is, say, what a fictional novelist might try to communicate about human experience with a story that "never really happened." To be sure, when I think about many of my favorite images, I know they, too, never really happened as I've made them appear through field choices or darkroom technique. However, their truth about a particular human experience certainly did happen, and continues to happen every time I view it, and (I hope) every time my viewers take a look. In a phrase, I've been moral when I believe these conditions are met, and it doesn't happen every time, or even too frequently.

    So to ask simply – are you, as a working LF photographer, being "moral," or do you believe there's little, if any relationship?

  2. #2

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    Re: On the influence of LF upon the moral faculty

    My first thought is huh!

    But then, there is nothing "moral" or "immoral" about any form of artistic expression.

    The viewer is the arbiter of moral, truth, experience, whatever and brings their own moral beliefs, experience etc to the viewing and the appreciation of the work.

    Another thought occurs, why should or could LF photographic practice be any more or less "moral" than any other artistic practice.

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    Re: On the influence of LF upon the moral faculty

    Truth, because it must be communicated somehow, is like a map, its a representation of what is actually there. All that matters about a map is that is a good enough representation to be useful. There is my truth, your truth and from a cultural perspective our truth, but all of that is only representative of the platonic ideal. The truth is how it should be. Morality is how you should behave. Art is amoral. No one told Picasso how he should paint. Propaganda, on the other hand is moral. Documentary photography is moral, its a representation of the ideal or truth.

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    Re: On the influence of LF upon the moral faculty

    There is a nude section on this forum that I feel is artistic. Some (including my mother) would say it's immoral.

    I would say that the "morality" of a photograph or any art has a lot to do with opinion.

  5. #5
    Format Omnivore Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    Re: On the influence of LF upon the moral faculty

    Quote Originally Posted by Heroique View Post
    What's your view about the influence of our LF work upon morality?
    (emphasis added)

    Has my LF work contributed to morality, or immorality?

    Bettie Page disappeared from the pin-up girl scene precisely because she felt her LF work, or rather work in front of a LF camera, was immoral.

    Mostly, I photograph inanimate objects. Or perhaps some sort of seeping vista. I would have to say that I've had no influence on morality, one way or another. To influence morality, the photograph must contain a social context which is commonly identified as moral or not. If the social context is not present, then the photograph has no influence on morality.
    "It's the way to educate your eyes. Stare. Pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." - Walker Evans

  6. #6
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: On the influence of LF upon the moral faculty

    Do you mean "morality" in the sense of having a moral code, a listing or right and wrong actions? These codes depend on particular views of what's valuable. What we photograph can be an expression of a specific moral outlook. For instance, Ansel Adams' photos might be connected to Aldo Leopold's worldview, a worldview that our environment is intrinsically valuable. Pointing our camera at something is saying, "This is worth looking at." For another example, some acquaintances of mine photograph "alternative" youth with an 8x10. Part of what their work says, at least to me, is that the subjects are people worthy of attention, just as much as Karsh's subjects were worthy of his.
    Please stop feeding the trolls.

  7. #7
    (Shrek)
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    Re: On the influence of LF upon the moral faculty

    My long-term goal re. photography is to make a moral statement, about a particular human activity that I find immoral. I don't know if that influences my own morality, ie is it moral to denounce immoral behavior that you find harmful to society in general, and millions of individuals in concrete terms? Or is my being judgmental harmful in and of itself, and therefore immoral? Does my use of photography as my method of communicating my moral judgment make my statement somehow different than if I had chosen to write a novel instead, with a more linear narrative?

    Given the very specific nature of the accusation I'm making, the accusation or statement must be judged as moral or not, and not the success or 'truthfulness' of my photography relative to my stated goal, or message. I think. Others may have differing opinions.

  8. #8

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    Re: On the influence of LF upon the moral faculty

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Heath View Post
    My first thought is huh!

    But then, there is nothing "moral" or "immoral" about any form of artistic expression.

    The viewer is the arbiter of moral, truth, experience, whatever and brings their own moral beliefs, experience etc to the viewing and the appreciation of the work.

    Another thought occurs, why should or could LF photographic practice be any more or less "moral" than any other artistic practice.
    I disagree. In Art there is a mean which has a greater effect on Art than personal beliefs.
    Not a popular position but it is the 800# gorilla in the hot tub which Artsy Fartsys cannot bring themselves to recognize.
    I doubt that it is a matter of morality or immorality so much as it is a cement between Truth and Beauty.
    I think it was Plato (I could be in error) who commented that a good picture is one that has nothing that's necessary left out and nothing that's unnecessary added (or words to that effect.) When I spend the time to compose with an aerial image that's upside down and backwards I'm pretty certain that Plato had it right.
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  9. #9

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    Re: On the influence of LF upon the moral faculty

    Questions like this never occur to me. I pursue large format photography as a hobby because I enjoy it, plain and simple.

    Jonathan

  10. #10
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: On the influence of LF upon the moral faculty

    I have spent more time in a day with my LF camera than my wife. Is that immoral?

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