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Photography Exhibitions - Are you a "real photographer"?

Discussion in 'Talking Pictures' started by PhotoEcosse, Apr 19, 2015.

  1. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    Apologies for resurrecting this question - there was some very interesting discussion on the subject following an AP Poll. But those Poll topics tend to be transient and viewed by few, so forgive me for raising the topic here.

    The Poll suggested that almost half of respondents never attended photographic exhibitions and very few respondents routinely attended many. One or two contributors to the ensuing debate suggested that no-one who spurned exhibitions could consider themselves to be seriously interested in photography as an art form. Several replied that, unless one lived in London, access to exhibitions might be limited.

    The topic raised itself afresh in my mind this morning when a fellow camera club member drew my attention to the website of The Institute for Photography in Scotland. http://www.institutephotographyscotland.org/ This organisation is an association between The National Galleries of Scotland, The University of Glasgow, The University of St Andrews, Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow, and Stills, Edinburgh. It aims to enable awareness of and engagement with Scotland’s photography, both nationally and internationally, and to promote collaboration amongst member bodies.

    What struck me when looking at the website was that it features over 70 photography exhibitions and lectures taking place across the length and breadth of Scotland over the summer - in all sorts of venues from established galleries to community halls. And this listing does not include many other exhibitions such as the RPS Scottish Members Exhibition which visits seven venues from Stow in the Borders to Inverness in the Highlands.

    That seems to hit firmly on the head any notion that only those living close to towns and cities can experience photography exhibitions. So why would anyone, with a serious interest in photography, NOT take every opportunity to enjoy (and perhaps learn from and be inspired by) real photographs displayed in real venues?

    Just askin'.

  2. Sejanus.Aelianus

    Sejanus.Aelianus In the Stop Bath

    I cannot answer this question because I am not a real photographer, do not wish to experience the photographs of real photographers and am too stupid to appreciate real photography anyway.

    I just thought I'd cut to the chase and save time...

    :D :D: :D

  3. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    I am interested in the world, in other people's surroundings as much as my own, In art in all its forms and of course in photography. My interest in photography is in the end result. I'm not really interested in what camera or what process. If I'm thinking of that, then I'm distracted from the finished product.

    I have already said that I make a point of going to exhibitions when they come up. I am also interested in looking at books, or online, at portfolios, at snippets (for example) from the National Portrait Gallery, on Flickr and on here. I'm interested in creativity and the history of art and photography. What's not to like? OK, what's not worth looking at? Nothing. Like it or not, someone created it. I can be inspired by someone's work. It is worth it.

    PS I realised I didn't say whether I thought of myself as a real photographer.
    I'm probably not, these days, since I have such little concern about the route to my finished product.

    One of the nicest things was said to me yesterday when talking to an old friend I used to meet when going to art sessions (sketching, models, outings) - when she said she saw some of my stuff on Facebook. She sometimes couldn't make up her mind if it was a painting (as I used to do) or a photograph. It tickled me and pleased me! A piece of art for her and that was all that mattered.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2015
  4. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    You said it.

    But I meant "real" in its modern sense .... as the opposite of "virtual" (also in its modern sense)

    So real photographs are those that you can hold in your hand or hang on a wall, rather than virtual representations of photographs that you can only view on the screen of a computer or other digital device.

    (Hold the door while I get my hat!)

  5. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    Excuse me for butting in again - but my walls bear testament to my 'realness' if that's your justification. I just also consider all other forms of image-worth worthy of appreciation.
  6. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member


    My view of photographs is a bit like that which Roger Hicks expressed about books v. eReaders in another thread. I like the tactile and olfactory aspects of prints as well as the visual. (Not that many exhibitions let you handle the merchandise!)

    It does not mean that I cannot appreciate an image on a screen - but it comes a very poor second to a print in my opinion.

  7. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    So - a statement of your position? Fine. You feel like that, others take a wider, and in my view, a more global appreciation of art and photography.
  8. art

    art Well-Known Member

    Is it really so difficult to understand that not everyone thinks the same way about such things?

    Simple as that.
  9. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    It seems so.
    I have purchased prints after seeing them offered online. How to square that circle? If I hadn't seen them or been offered them online, I might never have known I could buy a print for my wall.
  10. art

    art Well-Known Member

    I see no circle to square, only that people are different. I feel no need to question why some people attend photography exhibitions or buy other photographer's prints to hang on their wall. They seem like perfectly reasonable choices to me, as does choosing not to attend every possible exhibition or buy other people' sprints to hang on my wall.
  11. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Hi Eric, I really wanted the day off!

    Your 1st para above reminded me I had some unfinished business on that one. While I wouldn't fully hold the view "You are not a proper photographer if you do not exhibit or go to exhibitions" or put it quite as forcefully as some contributors to that Thread did, I do feel all people, photographers or no, miss out on something that is truly enriching to the spirit if they do not visit exhibitions of photography on a regular basis and I would bolt on other visual (non-performance) arts to that as well.

    {There is also the subsidiary question over whether you can grow yourself totally in isolation as a photography in the 21st Century. Another time, definitely, and maybe another Thread.}

    While I agree that the real thing is (perhaps) to be prefered there are two things working against it: 21st Century transport costs & the transient nature of all exhibitions (other than Permanent Collections) especially those on for a day or days or a couple of weeks. On-line viewing is not the same but it addresses both those limitations and ads two major advantages: world wide access and near permanent access plus potential for study.

    On the 2nd para, I stumbled across something similar to your link for just Fife or south-east Scotland a while back. I cannot recall how or why now; think I may have been seeking out a writer perhaps. There is stuff there if you make the effort.

    Cheers, Oly
  12. Zou

    Zou Well-Known Member

    I too was surprised by the poll results, and personally visit many exhibitions, but I cannot agree with the logic that you have to like seeing the output of other photographers in order to validate your own.

    Surely you can be a 'real' cook without ever going to restaurants?
  13. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Oly,

    Highlight: Nor would I. But equally, I find it hard to see why people choose to limit their appreciation and understanding of photography by not going to exhibitions whenever they can, even if "can" involves a bit of an effort. Unless you see good original prints, you are without doubt missing out on a large part of what photography can be. You may choose to remain ignorant of these possibilities, but that says a certain amount about you too. [Obviously "one" not "Olybacker".]

    Last week Frances and I went to three exhibitions in Niort, around 50 miles away: part of a photo festival. They were, to be generous, not good. But we're still glad we went, because we learned more about what is exhibited and how. The fuel for the bike cost us maybe 12€, and we had the pleasure of a ride in beautiful countryside plus the convenience of doing a little grocery shopping on the way home.

    As an aside, I might not be quite so ready to exclude performing arts as a part of my visual appreciation/education -- especially if I could take pictures!


  14. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    That's because there is no such "logic". "Validate" is pure nonsense -- what on earth do you think it means? -- and you don't necessarily have to like what you see. But when it comes to seeing the work of others, you can as I say above choose to live in ignorance if you wish. The question is why you would wish it.

    The parallel with restaurants is misleadingly inexact. First, it is quite hard to compare consuming a meal, with all its variability from one evening to the next, with seeing a picture. Second, you can eat good food in all sorts of places, and have friends who are cooks: the exchange of ideas is as central to cuisine as to photography. Third, the price difference between eating great food and seeing great pictures still further reduces the value of the comparison -- though I'd have thought that when you can afford to eat out, you'd be a fool not try to to learn from what you eat.


  15. Zou

    Zou Well-Known Member

    A photographer is someone who takes photographs, speaking simply. So of what relevance to being a photographer is looking at other people's photos? Yes, they can inform, influence, inspire, or otherwise impact (and I would argue that those are all good reasons for viewing them) but you can still be an excellent photographer without ever seeing anyone else's pictures, in any format.
  16. Zou

    Zou Well-Known Member

    Variances of light, nuance of position in relation to other room features or other works, etc. etc.? Printed? Projected? Daguerrotype? Plenty of variables there surely? ;)
  17. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    That is exactly the question I asked, Roger.

    Glad someone understood it.

  18. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    Semantically you are, of course, correct, Zou.

    But, for me, we are surely talking about someone who not only meets your definition by clicking the tit on a camera but, rather, someone who is interested in photography as an all-absorbing hobby and wishes to immerse him/herself in the art form. Someone who seeks inspiration and who aspires to a proximity to perfection (or, at least, progress towards it).

    But I am going to ask you a question. You insist, "you can still be an excellent photographer without ever seeing anyone else's pictures". Have you ever met any such person or even heard of such a person?

  19. Olderbutnotwiser

    Olderbutnotwiser Well-Known Member

    What constitutes an exhibition?

    I have prints of several pictures I've taken hanging on the walls at home. I see them, my family sees them, visitors see them.

    I also have prints of some (maybe a dozen) pictures on the wall next to my desk at work. Again, I see them, my colleagues see them, clients see them and other visitors to the office see them.

    Some probably don't even notice, some look but say nothing, a few comment on them and, very occasionally, somebody will ask questions about them. Once or twice I've been asked for a copy of one of them.

    So, am I an exhibitor?
  20. Zou

    Zou Well-Known Member

    Final question first - of course not. But it would make for an interesting study. Come to think of it, what about that grinning monkey? ;)

    A 'driver' is not defined by it being an all-absorbing hobby, so why is 'photographer'? The problem is we may well want to do certain things relating to our personal interests, but we have to understand that our experience is not the universal and we shouldn't look down on others because their feelings differ.

    I want to see lots of exhibitions, so do you, Roger, and many others. But as soon as we start to call ourselves 'real' photographers' based on that, I fear we have become 'real @r$es' instead.

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