"A photographer’s job is to shoot something
no one else would see."
—Marjorie Salvaterra, quoted in the caption of "Marilyn," a portrait in LensCulture's "Making Portraits of People," curated by Andy Adams of FlakPhoto
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Featured Comments from:
Mark Jennings: "Yup! I agree with that and add that the photographer should be so besotted as to be convinced that other peoples' love of life is incomplete without that rare find. At least that's my ideal standard for work that goes out (I'm not a pro obviously). But if it excites me so much that I just can't keep it a hidden, then it has a chance at being of general interest. All of the exceptional-for-me images that I have managed have been of subjects that I'm strongly attached to and have spent truly excessive amounts of time with. Feelings, thoughts, eye, inspiration and technique come slowly to me. But getting there is one of the most fun things there is.
"An anecdote I read a long time ago fits in here. A beloved author was asked by a young guy, 'What does it take to be a good writer?' The pro asked in return, 'Do you like sentences?' And after a lecture on the intricacies of meter, Robert Frost was asked if that really was what he thought about while writing his (unique) verse. He came back with, 'I revel in it.' Is it any different for us with line, planes, colors, tones, movement and stuff? That's what I like!"
Manuel: "Yes indeed. An interesting—and quite complementary—piece of popular culture about originality in photography is one featured in Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood.' During a scene that (fittingly) takes place in a darkroom, Mason's Photography teacher asks his pupil: 'What can you bring to photography that others can't?' Every photography enthusiast should ask themselves the same question."
Will: "I like that a lot. (But) In the spirit of the conversations I enjoy here, I offer the exact opposite assertion: 'At least one of a photographer’s jobs is to shoot what everyone can see.' I'm regularly asked to document gatherings / events / etc. because 'you're a photographer.' Without too much exaggeration, I can say that there are usually hundreds of people at these events, and many of them are using a phone-cam or a non-phone-cam to shoot as well. So why ask me? Because I capture the event in a way that allows people to people see what they saw. Without the usual problems that seem to plague so many others' photos. As far as I can tell, that job description covers many types of people who call themselves—and are called—photographers. Salvaterra shoots things I would never see, literally and figuratively, and I love her work for that reason. I also love photographers who can show me exactly what I saw. Not 'in a new way,' or 'truer than true,' but exactly as I saw it."