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Thread: Where are the great shots? Am I a cynicist or a realist?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Tonopah, Nevada, USA

    Where are the great shots? Am I a cynicist or a realist?

    Hard to imagine that it has been 25 years now that I have pursued artistic photography.

    In a recent thread an OP asks about where the good shots are near Portland. Change the name and we see the same querry a thousand times here. And I guess I'm getting a bit cynical.

    It's absolutely OK to ask the question. But since I have a married daughter in Oregon and have been up and down more of the Oregon outback than most Oregon residents I couldn't help but think to myself, another worn out shot of the sea stacks. LF black and white fine art version. Crystal sharp with 90 second exposure so the sea looks like a blurred gray fog and the fabulous rocks break through gloriously.

    The thing is, after 25 years, I have all the right gear and the know how to do that and every other iconic shot, but my question is, who cares. No one will ever see it. No one wants to see it. The awesome 8X10 negative will languish in a thin oak drawer up in my studio until I'm gone and someone takes the whole pile to the rubbish heap.

    I'm especially cynical about all the Bodie ghost town type shots where you get to know the names of every building in Bodie after a while. Whoopee. Painfully worn out.

    It's unnecessary to attempt to correct me and give me all the arguments I've already given others about "you do it for you" etc. nothing else matters, every artist brings his unique vision, blah blah blah. Heard them all. GIVEN them all.

    Ultimately, I'm still going, still enjoying. I get worked up over some antique lens that I think really may have some unique signature. But ultimately the wind in the sails 25 years ago is largely gone. The wisest man that ever lived may have said it best. All is vanity and striving after wind.

    get some fuel boys, and some matches, we've got a heretic to burn

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Sep 2007

    Re: Where are the great shots? Am I a cynicist or a realist?

    There seems to be a lot of this sentiment going around. I just had my birthday, and was thinking, "now what?" But I talked to my dad a week or two ago, now pushing 80, he said "The candle blows out too soon. frankly, I'm kind of sorry it's about over..."

    I think your photographs have and can change a few people. Your lens excitement too. All of us have that to pass along: our enthusiasm for life. Because even writing (my dad said a few years ago I should write a book, to leave a legacy) get's forgotten over the years. Look at all the old masters and lens experts we read...but 99.999 % of the others in the world never will.

    Maybe it's better to photograph things that are transitory: live people. Rocks and trees and Bodie never change, so any shot taken any time is the same.

  3. #3
    ghostcount's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Condado de la Naranja, CA

    Re: Where are the great shots? Am I a cynicist or a realist?

    "People say youth is wasted on the young. I disagree. I believe wisdom is wasted on the old. All you can do is part with it, but very few will take it, least of all the people closest to you. They want no part of it." - Reddington
    "Sex is like maths, add the bed, subtract the clothes, divide the whoo hoo and hope you don't multiply." - Leather jacket guy

  4. #4
    John Olsen
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Whidbey Island, WA

    Re: Where are the great shots? Am I a cynicist or a realist?

    1. Maybe it's the problem of only wanting to do the "great shots." Admitting that the famous landscape panoramas are exhausted as far as new material goes, will allow us to search out the lesser treasures that are scattered all over the place. Forget about driving all the way to Yosemite and cruise down the nearby backroads, looking for images on a more personal scale. Some of the contributors to LFF have been doing that and finding amazing compositions.

    2. Yeah, it's all going to the dump when I kick the bucket, except for the small part that gets sold beforehand.

    3. My "Bodie" images are not from the California "Bodie," but I hear what you're saying.

    4. I get grumpy too in mid-winter; Spring will be here soon.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    May 2009
    Norwalk Ca.

    Re: Where are the great shots? Am I a cynicist or a realist?

    Jim, so you are saying that your "Lets get going, got up and left" try selling the old Model T's and start fix' en up old Tayota's and get a Holga or even a light weight Rolliecord .Keep that amazing web site of yours, it is priceless.

  6. #6
    Tin Can's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011

    Re: Where are the great shots? Am I a cynicist or a realist?

    Live by example and tell quick stories

    Our lenses have seen generations pass through them

    Maybe that's where Art lives

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Sheridan, Colorado

    Re: Where are the great shots? Am I a cynicist or a realist?

    You're not the first "artist" that has dealt with this issue, of course. I'm sure there countless book about it. Some long-term writers have gotten back to their craft after a short hiatus. Many painters quit after only a short try at their art. Photographers are the same. Whatever the craft, people enter it -- and leave it (temporarily or permanently) -- for different reasons. Burn-out can be permanent or temporary. What path works for you is not something you need to figure out today, or next month. You might just need a short break, making a longer one, or maybe a permanent one. Here are some pertinent lyrics that I'm sure you will remember:

    "If there's a bustle in your hedgerow
    Don't be alarmed now
    It's just a spring clean for the May queen
    Yes, there are two paths you can go by
    But in the long run
    There's still time to change the road you're on
    And it makes me wonder"

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Re: Where are the great shots? Am I a cynicist or a realist?

    Great insight Mr. Galli! I feel the same way. How many pictures of the Flatiron building can I take? How many pretty pictures of the ocean can I take. I see the real ocean almost every day here in SoCal.

    That's why I prefer reportage and portraits cause they always change and it's that instant of time that you will never see again. The ocean will look the same, that Joshua Tree will look the same now, next year, and the year after.

    But I do like seeing landscapes of places I've never been too. I don't think if I ever do get to those places, will I take that picture cause there will always be someone else who is so much better at it than I am.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    May 2006

    Re: Where are the great shots? Am I a cynicist or a realist?


    I am doing this for 15 years, not 25. But I am with you and can feel what you are going through. Maybe you should try to shoot more live people than dead things? I still remember how inspired I was by your portraits made with old lenses. What happened? Why stop? You can find enough people in your church or in Tonopah or when you travel.

    That's what I have been doing lately. I have made about 200-300 pictures of people in the past two years. With Graflex 45 to 11x14, mostly WP sizes. I like the social part of this as each face is a new story for me. They are usually fascinated by the camera, lens and dark cloth. We chatted and I observed and sometimes I asked to take their pictures. For most people, this is very unique experience for them. Nobody has told them to stare into the big lens and hold still for 20 seconds. The best part of course is when you give them the matted prints. Some people even joked, maybe not, that they would use it for their funeral. The bonus part is when wives came up to tell you how they liked the pictures of their husbands, then you know what you did have given some pleasure to others you even don't know. Occasionally people ask for reprints for their mothers and then I would charge a bit.

    I still make pictures of buildings, trees and seas, and sometimes I got lucky and got something I really like. But I am fully aware this happiness is not a shared one, but I like it anyway. A little correction: sometimes I do sell a few prints of flowers and sea rocks to strangers which means my photography of dead things is not totally for myself to enjoy alone.

    Jim, maybe you should organize a get-together in Tonopah soon?


  10. #10

    Join Date
    Dec 2001

    Re: Where are the great shots? Am I a cynicist or a realist?

    Jimbo, if you don't enjoy what you're doing, find something else to do. There are many other ways to pass the time. If you enjoy it, keep on doing it and stop whining.

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