« Random Excellence: Rosario Civello | Main | Beautiful Bokeh »

Friday, 02 December 2016


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I ain't saying that a lotta (most?) people don't, or that I'm some kinda unique artiste, but... you're gonna have to qualify the "unconscious shooting for an audience" aspect a bit more. If it's one thing that's been made abundantly clear to me over 40 yrs, I'm shooting for an audience of... one. And I suspect I'm not completely alone.

I understand your "spaghetti on the wall - take it or leave it" premise of this exercise, but I am having a hard time with your suggestion for a photo meeting this characteristic: "one that has great personal meaning for you personally but wouldn't mean anything to anyone else."

Maybe I'm missing something or am naive, but I can't think of anything that I would really like (that I take) that wouldn't resonate with at least a few people (that I know? Others?).

Hope I'm not being "centered" when I imply there will always be people or friends who will like what I take.

OK, after just having posted that I can't think of anything I take that would be meaningful to me but to no one else, now I realize I have pictures of friends, for example, that might fit - DUH. But I take so few, I didn't even think of that. However, I said "might fit" because I always take such photos in a "scenic" environment, so others might enjoy a person in the scene, even if they don't know them.

I may be the world's only photographer which has never taken an "un-liked photo :-)

I remember way back at my photography club this issue came up regularly when someone would enter a good but unremarkable photo of a much loved (grand)child and feel insulted when it didn't win. So the concept is fairly well baked into my consciousness, but I sometimes still struggle to find the balance.

And then there's the related issue of creating a family photo book - it hurts me creatively to include photos that have great personal/emotional value, but little to no artistic merit (or worse, those that are technically flawed). But it hurts personally to leave those photos out!!!

But to drag it back to more technical issues (sorry Mike!) does anyone know any easy Lightroom technique to distinguish between the two? Flagging them different colours works right up until the point when you have a photo that belongs in both categories. Is keywording the only way to do this?

You've just identified the key distinction between an amateur and a pro.

First education, then you could evolve it into a Minor White style quasi-religious cult of photography. Have members donate in proportion to their faith and like PBS, get people to put you in their wills. Think big, like an endowment.

If you want help with the secret handshake....

[Frank, you're getting sleepy...you're getting sleepy...now when I snap my fingers you're going to start quacking like a duck. Ready? --Mike]

This may be a great exercise. Because I'm sitting here thinking "Wait...great personal meaning for me? What does that even mean?" Most of the examples that come to mind, like portraits of people with great personal meaning, probably don't fulfill the assignment (it's not actually the photo with the meaning, and/or other people will see value in the photo too).

I can think of all sorts of examples of little quirky things that mean a bit to me and nobody else, but that's not enough to fulfill the assignment as I read it.

So, since I'm sitting here thinking about how I could possibly even approach the assignment...that might be a sign it's a good one, at least for me.

(The other part, a photograph that can be fairly widely popular, is relatively easy. I've done it repeatedly, and it's rarely a complete surprise. It's the other half, that in some views probably ought to be the easy half, that I can't even find an entry point on yet.)

Mike, I think it would benefit your website to teach some classes. I thought you were going in this direction when you mentioned a while back that you were redoing the out building as a possible classroom. Just think how much inteacting with students would help feed your blog. And, you wouldn't have to travel far. Maybe arrangements with your local hospitality establishments would help those who would take multiple day seminars. You could even pair up these with any number of those noted photographers you've met over the years. Your book could be a tie-in to a particular event. And the interactional insights from having these classes would provide you with interesting subject matter for quite a while. Just some thoughts...

Interesting idea, Mike, but I'm not sure the photos would necessarily be very different....

I mainly take landscape and travel images. I took some recently on a walk in the Peak District which I was pleased with; the weather turned out to be perfect and the images are good, and (having shown them online) i''ve had some positive comments about them. But while I'm pleased with them, they don't have especial meaning to me - I do that walk a number of times every year and take pictures most times so I've got a lot of images from there.

Earlier this year I was in Crete and did a walk down the Samaria Gorge, taking pictures all the way. Again, some people who have seen them have complimented me on them. These images mean a lot to me, but for non-photographic reasons. It's a serious walk - about 15 Km or a bit more in length, very steep, hot, dry, hard underfoot, and no escape - once you've started you have to continue. I approached it with some trepidation, especially given my age, and I was as pleased as punch to complete it. So the images I took that day remind me of my achievement as much as they remind me of the place itself. But an observer looking at pictures from both these sets would simply see two sets of landscape pictures. What do you think?

I like the idea of classes, with the right format. I mentioned in another post that I'm taking an online writing class. It's a lot of fun, and the instructor has four published novels under his belt, plus a helpful, gentle manner. Eight hundred bucks for 10 weeks feels like a deal. I wonder if the "workshop" model would work with photography?

Dear Sir
I deeply disagree with you this time. Spaghetti will *never* stick to the wall, if properly cooked, "al dente". And, there is no other way to cook them.
Sincerely, Roberto from spaghettiland.

I'll try the exercise...not sure how long it will take...but at least I'm thinking about...interesting...thanksfor the proposal...

Hi Mike, long term reader here who just started blogging and just wrote an article along similar lines but less well expressed!


While you're waiting for your IT guy to fix your back-up, do yourself a favor and sign up for Amazon Drive (roughly $50 a year for unlimited storage), then download odrive (free) and start syncing your folders to Amazon. By the time you've fixed your back-up device, you'll have synced your storage to Amazon and can breathe easier.

I am an old black & white shooter from some years back and have only come round to digital photography in the last 10-years or so. I had some reaction to your interesting post in that it made me think of a modestly formidable moment when I was young (er). Some friends were round and wanted to see some of my photographs from a trip I had recently taken to Moscow (1998). So I pulled out the old Century box with a mixed bag of black and white photos I had labored over in the darkroom for many hours and was proud of. I recall positively my friends reacted to some of the photos I thought were absolute crap or test prints. And when they turned to one of my favorite photos from the trip, they skipped over it without hesitation. I was crushed. Upon further reflection and a good amount of libation, I concluded then that I needed to do this for one and only one viewer: me. I carry this with me to this day (which probably keeps me from printing more which may be a shame) but it keeps me free to shoot what I want to shoot, how I want to shoot it. I'm gonna try your exercise but at the risk of being philosophical, I have always doubted my ability to be objective about myself. Don't try, don't grow. Let's see.
PS: my wife just ordered two of Peter Turnley's prints for the holidays. Can't wait!

Picture 1: the door we opened for the cat only to discover it could open it all by itself
Picture 2: the cat. Any cat would do.
too easy!

BTW I like the idea of workshops and web-based teaching resources on "seeing" and other concept-based things that you know well but aren't well covered elsewhere.

Frank's suggestion is priceless.

I don't take pictures with meaning, either for me or for anyone else. I only do harmonious decor to be hung above the mantelpiece.

You live, what, an hour or so from what's probably one of the great photographic resources in the universe at Rochester, and many photographical Rochesterites may be under-employed due to the recent and ongoing recession in the film business. Seems to me that Rochester would be a great place for a Santa Fe* Workshops-style summer workshop, and based on your international fame as the head of the Online-Photographic-Industrial Complex, you'd be just the guy to head it up. Amazed that I haven't thought of this before -- you could commute a couple-three days a week in the Miata you'd be able to afford. Santa Fe Workshops rents its place from a nunnery; so there's no investment in buildings and such, just rent. Bet there are a lot of under-used buildings in Rochester, too.

What you could do is, become titular head, and find somebody in Rochester willing to set it up and run it under a joint-ownership agreement. There are people who actually do this kind of thing for a living, though I don't know if any of them live in Rochester.

I'd sign up for a class. Maybe.

*My spell-checker, with which I have an ongoing struggle for dominance, tried to drop the "Fe" in Santa Fe Workshops so that it would properly say Santa Workshops.

I can't see the point of making pictures for the sensibilities, tastes of other people if you are an amateur. As a pro, you often have little choice, the closest you get to independent expression often resides in your style; as an amateur you have complete freedom to be selfish. And so you should be. The hell with the rest of the world; let it make/take its own photographs. You don't require its approbation.


[01af: "'The End Game.'"]

Is it just me, or does the "mentor" seem as if he's right out of the movie, "Being There"?

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007