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AP has a result...

Discussion in 'News - Discussion' started by Benchista, Dec 22, 2005.

  1. TimF

    TimF With as stony a stare as ever Lord Reith could hav

    Agree with that. But, how many times have you (that's anyone reading this, not Geoff specifically) looked at a picture and thought, I could have taken that? Its often not quite so easy as it appears at first glance though, snapshot like photos in tourist brochures for example are far more carefully composed and metered than average "Joe Snapshotter" would ever do.
  2. Seven

    Seven ..or eight

    I totally agree and as I said in my post I think the thought process behind these pictures really isn't being taken into account, crikey most have BA's they know the rules surely??
  3. GlennH

    GlennH Well-Known Member

    Many times, and sometimes I have taken them. Published pictures are often underpinned by photographic knowledge, but that doesn't make them prize winners.

    If you have to try too hard to interpret the thought processes behind a picture, it seems to me that the picture hasn't really engaged the viewer as it might have done. I could read meaning into any number of images - but at what point do the thought processes become mine and not the photographer's?

    The subjective umbrella shelters much nonsense. As Huw said, these pictures require no skill. We're meant to believe in an often vague message behind them, but don't we all frequently spout "it's the final image that counts"? When that image could easily be mimicked by any one of us, it's arguable that it's not a deserving prize winner.

  4. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    A really good portrait requires some relationship between subject and photographer, trust usually helps. It isn't the photographs where I say "I could have taken that" that matter, more the ones where I say "I wish I could have taken that".
  5. GlennH

    GlennH Well-Known Member

    I agree Geoff. It'd be a dull pastime if we didn't aspire to something.

    Something Alan said rang true actually - all photographers are deluded to a certain extent. Particularly those that take a lot of pictures and constantly evaluate them. I've certainly ended up with my own version of gospel, and accept that other people have theirs. Such things shape people's pictures - an absolute truth is irrelevant.

    The whole basis of my photography revolves around craft - something I've learnt over many years. Even then, only a minority of my pictures give me any real satisfaction. The point is though, I'm predisposed to not liking pictures which appear to have no ingenuity, craft or vision.

    Alan sees pictures more purely than me I think, which is not better or worse, just different. I can't easily appreciate solely documentative images (even though I take plenty of them). They just don't demand enough of the photographer. But that's just the view from the road I've walked down.
  6. jchrisc

    jchrisc Well-Known Member

    I think I understand what you are saying Glenn. As a professional engineer I cannot look at much of modern sculpture that involves engineering (especially welding) without cringeing at the poor quality of the craftsmanship.
  7. Seven

    Seven ..or eight

    Which is why I said without the descriptions these probably wouldn't have stood a chance and yes you are dead right had it not been there I possibly would have arrived at my own interpretation (not good)

    Aside isn't that the whole point of any art, you interprate it and make it personal to yourself which is why it appeals. Sometimes that interpretation is what the photographer had sometimes it's not, the photographer of course would be over the moon if you get it but if I were to hang something on my wall it's because I see something in the picture.

    Bit hard to explain but the only comparison I have is music, many songs are written about drugs but more often than not they are interpreted as love songs.
  8. Seven

    Seven ..or eight

    I think this is where the whole thing stems from, it's not your bog standard studio portraiture.
    These simply aren't the run of the mill, they're not weeks of preparation with a model.

    I'm not really argueing their defence as I'm a bit on the fence for the images alone, but I'm not going to rubbish them on the grounds they are not the bog standard but will say I don't think they really fit into portraiture as most think of it.

    Shweppes perhaps got it wrong here not the photographers!
  9. GlennH

    GlennH Well-Known Member

    The crux of the issue for me Tanya is that the majority of the pictures are totally vacuous. The photographers have barely contributed a thing. Looking at said photos is akin to being subjected to someone else's family snaps. Under those circumstances I find myself wondering why they're worthy of attention.

    It's my belief that photography should be about communicating something, anything, to the viewer. If I look at a picture and it's totally devoid of any visual impact or reason, to my mind the photographer has failed. If my thoughts about a picture revolve around wondering why the photographer bothered, to me the photographer hasn't done enough.

    Bad photography is like a bad teacher - if it doesn't engage the audience it's ineffective, regardless of whether or not the photographer/teacher had something valuable to impart. Some people in this thread are defending the subjective nature of photography and the need to break convention, which is fine, but as far as I know nobody has yet given a reason specifically why these pictures deserve reward.

    Full-circle for me, I think, so I'll turn my attention to the Xmas grub!

  10. TimF

    TimF With as stony a stare as ever Lord Reith could hav

    Apologies for keeping this going, as it were, but doesn't the winning picture say anything to you at all Glenn? (from what you've already said I guess not, so stupid question). To me, its about isolation - the girl seems aloof from her surroundings somehow , and even in a way from the baby she is holding. The photographer may well have seen something entirely different at the time, and the judges who picked it, likewise.

    I suppose in the end, any piece of art has to reflect (if you like) an aspect of the viewer's own worldview for communication to take place between artist and onlooker. Diane Arbus has already been brought up here, and I think hers is a valid example; many of her pictures are of "freakish" people (though those who have seen her contact sheets suggest that often she would pick the one abnormal image out from a group to print - the famous shot of the boy with the toy hand grenade is a prime example of this). The point is though, that Arbus' photographs reflected the inner turmoil she was going through. Arbus suffered from mental illness, and eventually took her own life. Knowledge of this is, I think, essential to get the most from her work.
  11. sey

    sey Well-Known Member

    Having re-read this thread over & over very carefully & having read Ric Bower & Phil Crows comments from the BJP forum, nobody has said that they actually like any of the photographs. There have been a few that, on second thoughts or reading the photographer's 'intentions', have had a second look & may have warmed up slightly towards the photos, but, in the main the overwhelming consensus remains that they are crap.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with something 'new' or even a very well done cliche, as long as there is substance & it makes us react. It attracts us, makes us think & then decide yes or no.The prize winning pictures have left us all pretty much disappointed & even saddened by the fact that they are 'vacuous, empty, crap, nothing, etc.'.

    Yes a photograph must fistly please it's creator, but, if not only for his personal, private use & is intended for public viewing, competition, publishing it must cause a 'reaction' - I'm reluctant to use the word 'please' here because it could be a 'shocking' picture but nontheless a good one - within the audience as well.

    To me the old cliched adage 'a picture is worth a thousand words' still holds true, unless of course it's designed to be part of or go with a text. Thus having to read the photographer's intents in the competition to 'understand' the photograph, to me means that the photographer has blown it, if I can't 'get it' without reading the 'explanation'. It is irrelevent if my 'understanding' of the photograph is different to the photographer's 'intentions' as long as the photograph 'does something' to me.

    If we look at the 'Pictures of the year' link that Tim posted, we see wonderful examples of portraiture & other genre, & I don't think that there is a single photograph there that doesn't make us all skip a heart beat both from the editor's & reader's choices, even though there's the spoken commentry. I looked at the photographs the first time round without the soundtrack & was moved by each & every one of the chosen pics.

    The question is, would any of these pics. have been rewarded in the Schweppes comp? Judging by what was, I don't think so! But still we persist in trying to justify Schweppes' right to tell us what is good. This whole thread has been about justifying Schweppes' right to tell us that the crap is good & needs to be rewarded.

    Yes Tanya, it's Schweppes who've screwed up & not the photographers. It's Schweppes who chose to reward the crap.
  12. GlennH

    GlennH Well-Known Member

    Damn, I had to actually look at the pictures again ;). Yes, it does cause a reaction, but then so does looking at abandoned family photos in auction houses.

    I'm not dismissing what you say, Tim, and likewise Alan. It's just that, however well chosen the subject, the photographer exhibits no photographic knowledge in the execution of the picture.

    If we then return to the idea of abandoning rules and forgetting convention, the problem is that it often equates to photography 'dumbing down'. I want to see impact when I look at a picture, to be punched in the face by the photographer - that's what a communicative art should be about IMO.

    Many amateurs when they go on holiday see a magnificent building, photograph it without a moment's thought, and end up with a boring picture. Regardless of the potential of the subject, it's always the photographer's job to bring it to life, rules or no rules.

    I'm always interested by people that can work through mental illness, and maybe even use it. Mostly because I've battled with it myself. The documentary about Spike Milligan on TV last night was interesting in that respect.
  13. TimF

    TimF With as stony a stare as ever Lord Reith could hav

    Damn, I knew there was something I'd meant to watch. :mad: :D /forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

    When you say you like to be "punched in the face" by a photo, I know what you mean. However, if my interpretation of this picture's meaning has anything in it, then the seeming lack of any impact of the winning photo could, arguably, be a part of the thought process behind it. Without seeing more of her work, I think its unfair to dismiss the photographer on the basis on one picture. I'd certainly be interested in hearing what she has to say on her methodologies.

    One final question for now; while you may not like the photograph, is it one that in all honesty, after looking at it briefly, you have totally forgotten the content in a few minutes, or does the overall scheme (if not every detail) stay in your subconscious?
  14. AGW

    AGW Well-Known Member

    I wonder how many times we see Mr and Mrs Public taking a holiday snap. Left a bit, right a bit, no, stand in front of it....give yer sister a cuddle....
    A lot of thought and effort, arranging the scene and posing the people, can go into the shot. The result is a picture which will remain meaningful to the photographer but crap to anyone else.
    I have always thought a good photograph trancends this weakness and should be able to stand on its own.
    If the cutting edge of the art now places a value on this type of photography, how can it give credit to a chosen few at the expense of the masses? The only real distinction that I can see is that the photographer themselves are declaring it as <span style="color:eek:range">ART</span>.
    I want to understand the difference, it cant be as simple as that? Can it?

  15. TimF

    TimF With as stony a stare as ever Lord Reith could hav

    Indeed. The point is that much of the finest modern photography does embrace the language of the vernacular (that's you and me guv!), as was noted as early as 1976 by John Szarkowski in his essay in "William Eggleston's Guide"

    "It could be said - it doubtless has been said - that such pictures (ie, the colour work of Eggleston, Shore, Meyerowitz, Levitt, etc) often bear a clear resemblance to the Kodachrome slides of the ubiquitous amateur next door. It seems to me that this is true, in the same sense that the belles-lettres of a time generally relate in the texture, reference, and rhythm of their languaage to the prevailing educated vernacular of that time. In broad outline, Jane Austen's sentences are presumably similar to those of her seven siblings. Similarly, it should not be surprising if the best photography of today is related in iconography and technique to the contemporary standard of vernacular camera work, which is in fact often rich, and surprising. The difference between the two is a matter of intelligence, imagination, intensity, precision, and coherence."

    This comes back to my previous comment in this thread about any of us looking at published work and thinking, I could have done that.
  16. sey

    sey Well-Known Member

    No Graeme, it's not the photographers telling us it's Art. It's the so-called experts who've decided, mainly for financial gain, to 'educate' us & convince us that it's Art.

    If we look at the winning picture again, there is nothing new in the subject. We've seen it hundreds of times before, a child carrying a baby sibling in a tragic situation. From Vietnam to Biafra to the Sudan & the rest of the African disasters to the Asian tragedies to Central Europe & more recently Iraq.

    With most of the other photographs that we've seen, we had very strong reactions because they were well-taken photographs that kicked us in the crotch, even though we'd seen similar many times before.

    This photograph leaves us pretty much stone-cold & I think all of our doubts & all of our discussion here is because the photograph has all of the right ingredients to make us weep, but fails to move us at all & in fact this is what we are questioning here.

    Both here & in all the other places where this has been discussed, sometimes very heatedly & with some people bending over backwards trying to accept this as a good photograph, it's just not happening. The photograph is so 'non' that it just doesn't do much for anybody except get the photographer a few grand & Schweppes a lot of bad publicity.

    The only thing 'new', about this pic. is that a lousy/empty/vacuous/nothing/crap snapshot has taken a prize & this has left us confused.
  17. TimF

    TimF With as stony a stare as ever Lord Reith could hav

    In this case though, there is no "tragic situation" a la war zone/disaster area etc, unless its an internal one of the subject. A direct comparison with such shots is, IMVHO, meaningless.
  18. sey

    sey Well-Known Member

    May be that's just it Tim. There is absolutely nothing in the pic. that shows any emotion or feeling. No 'tragic'/'happy' circumstances, nothing that 'pulls'.

    Imo it's not very aesthetic either, don't think the composition is good and background doesn't do anything for the picture.

    All it shows is a seemingly disinterested child, struggling to hold a baby in a very uncomfortable position & indifferent setting, for the camera in a very bland, anemic way.

    On reading my previous post I should have said "it has all the ingredients to make us weep or smile". Children pictures should do that to us, & this one certainly doesn't.
  19. GlennH

    GlennH Well-Known Member

    I certainly forgot all of the content after the first viewing, because I (rightly or wrongly) immediately dismissed the pictures through gut instinct.

    If the lack of impact is meant to create subtlety in the images, I certainly think it'd be lost on most viewers. Again, recognition of a good potential subject doth not the photographer make.

    It occurred to me that the pictures are, in fact, very uniform in their rebelliousness. Apart from being ironic, that also suggests a mindless indoctrination. How are photographic students taught?

    Simply abandoning photographic convention is not enough to define individuality. Broken rules surely need to be replaced by original ideas? An imbued visual sense might help that, which is not evident in these pictures.

    Don't know what else to say. Maybe the entrants submitted work to conform to the competition's inconformity?

    A related can of worms is that many pictures even with impact still do not require great mastery or vision on the part of the photographer. That fogs the argument somewhat.
  20. 0

    0 Guest

    The "I could have done that" school generally overlooks the fact that the person who actually has "done that" is sufficiently skilled to make it look simple. Simplicity (or the appearance thereof) is the key to genius.

    Someone skilled in writing could doubtless have expressed the above in a much more simple (and lucid) way than I've managed. /forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

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