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Thread: What is a"vision"?

  1. #21

    Join Date
    Mar 1998
    Posts
    1,972

    What is a"vision"?

    let's rename the photographers: #1.) Fred Picker

    #2) John Sexton

    #3) Robert Adams

    Aaron, your homework assignment is to go find books or info about these three guys and determine why I chose them. You have six months to research and study.

  2. #22

    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    632

    What is a"vision"?

    Aaron, i believe the concept of a personal "vision" is overrated and misunderstood. Artists love to talk about their "vision" in terms that make them feel important, as if they have some special magical talent that no one else has, and you can just forget trying to "find" a vision because it's too amorphous and vague of a concept; you either have it or you don't. I believe something quite different; a person's "vision" IS a special and magical talent, totally unique in the universe; the part where I disagree with many others is in the definition of what a "vision" is, and who gets to say they have it.

    My belief is that EVERYONE in the world has a "vision," which is simply defined as one's own unique perspective. The reason everyone has a unique perspective is that no two brains or experiences are the same, and so no two perspectives could possibly be the same. And so, when you say a word like "tree" to a thousand people (whether or not they are artists), they will all think of a different thing based on how their brains work and what their experiences have been. If a thousand people were to stand and look at some particular thing, or scene, they would all see something different.

    In my view, then, the artist's biggest challenge is not to "develop" a unique perspective, because we all already have that built into our brains; it is to RECOGNIZE our own uniquen perspective. Strangely, though it sounds easy, this is an incredibly challenging task. We naturally assume (totally incorrectly) that everyone else sees the world in just the same way we see it, and so as we walk around in the world, although every moment of our lives is a unique experience that will never be repeated again in all the possible permutations of infinite universes, we mislead ourselves into believing we are having a mundane experience the same as everyone else's. And so we disregard the magic in front of our eyes, and wonder where the heck we can go to find something unique to photograph. And so we go to Yosemite and copy other people's work. Which, hopefully you can see, is counterproductive if our goal is to find our own unique vision.

    On top of the difficult of escaping the assumptions built into our brains, there are powerful forces out there that take us in exactly the opposite direction of personal expression, that tend to make our work homogenous and derivative. For example, look at the 10,000 nature photographers out there who are all making identical images of the same places, any of which could be interchanged with each other in different photographers' shows and no one would notice. For some reason people out there think they're developing a personal "vision" by precisely copying the work of thousands of others. I think the basic need being satisfied here is the need for security.

    So, without going on too long here, here's my advice: forget the large format for awhile, and go out with a 35mm camera and shoot a CRAPLOAD of film. Take pictures of everything that even remotely interests you. Try to make all the pictures good (i.e., don't just shoot for the hell of it), and look at everything you shoot from every angle and perspective you can think of. Shoot during the day, during the night, with wide angle, telephoto, color and B&W, grainy film and sharp film, long exposures and short, with a tripod and without. And then look, look, look HARD at the results. Out every 1000 photos you shoot, 999 of them will be crap, but then once every 1000 frames or so, you will see something that will make your heart jump a little because you'll think "hey, I've never seen a photo quite like that one before." That is your personal perspective showing through.

    Okay, that's all for now. Write me privately if you want to discuss further.

    Oh, and one other thing: Only take artistic advice from people whose work you respect. So, check out mine, and either strike me off the list of people who you want to hear from, or write me.

    ~chris jordan (Seattle)

    www.chrisjordanphoto.com

  3. #23

    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Redondo Beach
    Posts
    551

    What is a"vision"?

    You pick something to photograph, and you present it in an interesting way. That is vision. Or you write, or sculpt, or paint.

    You do this for yourself, or for recognition(whether you want to admit it or not), and/or in addition to being paid. You get good, or very good, or great at it, after awhile. You enjoy doing something you know you can do very well, and it validates and fulfills you.

    No matter what you've done, you think you can do better, and if you see someone above you, or ahead of you, then you try to pull yourself up to where they are. If whoever is ahead or above you is secure within themselves they have no problem extending a hand to pull you up to where they are. They don't mind this because they will always be them, and you will always be you.

    Then we all share. In the vision and the Art. Art was put here to serve us, for us to enjoy, and whatever gift we have for being able to see what few others can see, we have so that we can share with others. In a dark room, if you are lucky enough to have a flashlight, then you show everyone in the room the way.
    Jonathan Brewer

    www.imageandartifact.bz

  4. #24

    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Redondo Beach
    Posts
    551

    What is a"vision"?

    Aaron.....as I've said before you've clearly got an itch you can't scratch. You've got all this advice, and as some folks have suggested you need to think about things, then make some choices and changes, change gears, change cameras, travel, read, and while your're doing that pick somebody out and ride with them.

    Chris Jordans suggestion of a switch to 35mm is a good one, maybe you don't shoot enough to develop/discover you style/vision or whatever your 'feelgood' or 'comfortzone' is.
    Jonathan Brewer

    www.imageandartifact.bz

  5. #25
    Kevin Kolosky
    Join Date
    Jun 1999
    Posts
    800

    What is a"vision"?

    Well said, Mr. Jordan. Much of what you said I think I said also but in a different way. The only thing I would add is that when you take out that 35mm camera and shoot tons of film, try and shoot it on something that you really really care about. I don't care if its a person, or a tree, or a mountain, or a car, or whatever in the hell it is. Just make sure you care about what you shoot. Why I say that is because I do think that photographers do better (subjectively) when they have an emotional stake in what they are photographing, be it whether that emotional stake is genuine care, or whether the emotion is the desire to do well for someone who is paying you money for the photograph. I disagree with those who would complain about "originality". Heck, if a photograph is well done and provides viewing enjoyment for me then I don't care who did it first or how many times it has been done. I also disagree that one can only learn photography from those who photograph, or that only those who photograph can critique photographs. Those who photograph might be able to teach craft or style, but they can't teach feeling or art which is sensed rather than learned. Okay, I'm done. I won't say no more. Kevin

  6. #26

    What is a"vision"?

    Kevin's last statement was correct - you don't have to learn photograpy from photographers or photographs. I learned most about light on buildings from Edward Hopper's work (painter). Read novels by visually attuned people like Wright Morris or Wallace Stegner.

    I think the work that endures is, above all else, persuasive. It is so heartfelt, so true to that ineffable thing we are calling "vision," that the viewer with an open mind and heart will be persuaded and will respond.

    Thanks for starting this interesting conversation.

  7. #27

    What is a"vision"?

    No, Chris. How could you go back to 35mm from LF? What makes LF so addictive is the challenges and rewards it represents. Tell me you feel the same when you look at THINGS on 8x10 ground glass. What about that sensual sharpness and special texture and glow of contact print? The time you spend to contemplate about compositions and zones behind that dark cloth and the pounding of your heart the moment you press the shutter when you know you are getting something good. The heaviness of your gears and the endless hours you spend in the darkroom trying to craft a fine print. The lonliness and joy. LF can be a powerful tool of artistic expression. But the physical and emotional involvement of it can also be an unique experience and be an end by itself. I know some people who shoots 8x10 and has not developed the negs for the last three years. You do not have shoot 1,000 frames to get good. Better time might be spent to look at good pictures, specially good paintings. I can go weeks without a single exposure. If I have nothing to say, I just keep quiet.

  8. #28

    What is a"vision"?

    20/20 in the one eye and pretty screwed up in the other. But I get by.

  9. #29

    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Redondo Beach
    Posts
    551

    What is a"vision"?

    Sandy....I learned a lot about composition and lighting from paintings.

    Hugo......Aaron is spinning out in his Ferrari, why not go back to the go-kart, mini-racer, or whatever to work on his technique?

    He sure doesn't need to take the hour or whatever to set his LF gear to take one shot which has a good chance of not living up to his expectations, according to what he's told us. Get out the thirty five gear and shoot, but without getting sloppy. He'll mess up plenty, but he'll come up with a number of 'keepers'.

    You might consider something unrelated to photography that encourages focus and mental discipline. I played chess a lot, but don't have the time anymore. My woodworking helps me to make better images.

    I know LF is going to work for me because of my woodworking. All you have to do to be able to tell if a woodworker can stay focused is count his fingers. If he cannot stay focused, cannot concentrate, shut everything else out except what he/or she is doing, he will have less than ten.
    Jonathan Brewer

    www.imageandartifact.bz

  10. #30
    multi format
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    local
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    4,028

    What is a"vision"?

    aaron - shooting lots of film with a portable camera is a really good idea, it can help you refine. writing your thoughts down is a can help too. not just in a discussion forum - but maybe in some sort of a journal that you keep - words can sometimes lead to pictures. god luck - john
    enjoy your coffee

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