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Photography Exhibitions - Are you a "real photographer"?

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

  1. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    I saw some of those in an exhibition at the Lowry Gallery and now, having seen them on screen. have to support those who say there's no substitute for seeing them 'live' as it were.

  2. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    Still, you don't express an opinion on whether you think they are good portraits? Or are they good photographs by the photographer, showing his style?

    Just because you saw them, presumably larger and more dominating, and undoubtedly well executed, doesn't make them good portraits, in my view.
  3. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Ta, but I felt I had to defend the principle that was debated hotly some years ago. Basically we had people saying "I say this and I've been a club judge for 20 years" and I've written this or that book, or got these letters. It was a bit of a pi**ing contest.

    Point was never to allow it to be believed that you had to have "qualifications" to voice opinions or critiques (much as some might wish to know what those might be!)
  4. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    BTW Kate (or others), I'm starting to pull a body of work together on flickr to follow up last year's Bleeding London, which I must say I'm suffering withdrawal from. I decided to take up a theme of tourists in London, which I'm sure is not new, but I have never observed the observers that closely. You are welcome to dip in and make comments. I hope it won't become too repetitive, with people doing selfies, pointing cameras, etc, but if it does, I'll have failed.
    A trip to New York will cut across it, but hopefully I'll get some passable stuff, even if there will be few stand-alone shots. Just done one half day so far in poor light.
  5. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    Now you are making me smile. I'll be delighted to look in on Flickr. That's a challenge and no mistake. As you say, the proliferation of cameras and selfies could be a problem! Apart from the Japanese, who I used to find endlessly interesting.
  6. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    I understand. Honestly, I do.
  7. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    "Qualifications" are worthless. Good arguments or good pictures or both will trump them every time. But then, "qualifications" -- "Here is what I have done, preferably under my real name" -- trump keyboard warriors every time: "I think you are [insert insult here]. But I am hiding behind a made up name and have never done anything anyone cared about in my miserable, shrunken life."

    I'll get back to you about the question of pics, by the way. Briefly: overwhelmingly positive.


  8. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    But can they be "good" art and yet bad portraits, I wonder?
  9. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    Well, that is what I am saying. If good art means perfectly executed in the medium, then I'm sure they are good art. I would still consider them bad portraits, or at least, a wasted opportunity.

    I guess it depends what your aim is in photography. To produce the perfectly executed photograph? Or to produce the perfect capture or 'representation' of whatever you are taking, be it landscape, wildlife, abstract or portrait etc.

    Surely the last thing we all want is compliments on camera, post processing or printing! ;)
  10. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member


    Forgive me if I express surprise that you even asked the question. If you think about the meanings of the words, then the answer must be a resounding "yes".

    Above all else, a portrait is a picture (or text in the case of a pen-portrait) that tells us about the personality, character or condition of the subject. A good portrait will do that well.

    Art, on the other hand, should tell us something about the personality, character, condition, preferences, opinions, etc. of the artist. Good art should do that well.

    So, yes, a portrait might be a good portrait and either good or bad art, or a bad portrait and either good or bad art, or good on both axes or poor on both axes - or anywhere in-between.

    Where the scope for variation in the reaction of the viewer occurs (thank goodness) is in our differences of ability to discern and interpret the attributes of the subject from the portrait and/or to read something about the artist from the art.

    Last edited: Apr 22, 2015
  11. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    I don't consider myself qualified to express an opinion. Even if I held a strong opinion I wouldn't express it here and in this thread.

    All I know is that they made me think about the photographer and the subject so I suppose that in that sense I think that they are good.

    I'm not sure I 'get; your last sentence - seems to me to be a non sequitur.

    In any event I'm not one that feels the need to shove everything into a good or bad box. Some of the stuff I see leaves me indifferent.

  12. Trannifan

    Trannifan Well-Known Member

    Imagine looking at one set of portaits in one exhibition, then going down the street and around the corner to another and then having to look at the room and the other exhibits in order to confirm that, yes, you really are in another exhibition!
    I suspect that this may be more of a problem in Germany since photographic training at Uni level is possibly more tightly organised. Be that as it may, a year or so ago in an art publication here there was an article in which the writer said that, visiting exhibitions by up and coming photographers, he no longer needed to look at the cvs of the participants- one look at the photos and he knew exactly which uni they had attended and which prof had trained them. They all showed the same style and, as such, were interchangeable with next to no distinct personal note. The unis seem to be intent on smoothing out individual traits.

  13. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Your words, art, should have been ringing in my head as I encountered that Chamberlin, Powell & Bon exhibit at the Barbican on Tuesday. I had seen it before & wasn't expecting to see it again. It was so good (despite being only a small show and only a quarter of it photography) that I made the effort to visit it again later in the day prior to a photo society meeting. It informed me, on first, second & third viewings, of 'other things'. A delight.

    That delight would have been missed by those who deliberately choose not to go to (photographic) exhibitions or fail to make much effort to see anything other than that which falls into their lap. Cheers, Oly
  14. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    ^ ^ ^ :D

    Hi Alan, Know just a little bit how you feel. Was at the Irving Penn NPG exhibit when an old man came in with a younger couple. Talking as they passed me, I heard enough to realise that the old boy had known Penn well, I think he may have assisted him at one time. He was telling the couple about Penn's ways of working, how he related to his subject, the backgrounds he chose to use, when he thought he'd got the shot, film development and so on.

    Have to confess that I stalked them round the show as surreptitiously as possible just so I could listen in. Like you, I found it impossible to look when eavesdropping, so had to go round the exhibit again after a break following their departure.

    It happened again on Tuesday. An older woman and younger middle-aged man were looking at the CP & B exhibit and he was asking her questions. It quickly became obvious that she had worked in their office when they were designing bits of the Barbican estate. Unfortunately they didn't stay long, so my flapping ears caught very little to add to the information provided by the exhibit.

    Cheers, Oly
  15. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    So you must mean me, Kate! ;) But you have seen some of my work. However, when I went to check my Gallery it seems to have disappeared. I will have to do battle with AP's labrynthine system for loading pics again sometime soon. Have acquired a s/h Canon scanner that should make print copying easier than my ancient Epson. Just don't expect me to do a Senator! Cheers, Oly
  16. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Hi Roger, The qualification that I lay claim to is that as a photographer I have worn out two tripods. ;) Cheers, Oly
  17. Sejanus.Aelianus

    Sejanus.Aelianus In the Stop Bath

    "Don't need no stinkin' tripod, if your lens is wide enough", as I was told once. Mind you, he was of the Robert Capa persuasion and people like that scare the pants off me!

    :D :D :D

  18. lfc1892

    lfc1892 Well-Known Member

    I judge people's critique by the critique itself. It's quite easy to simply give a yay or a nay, but something altogether more useful and challenging to say why.
    Do i care if someone has years of experience or has written a dusty outdated book? Not if they can't give intelligent critique. Preferably with some recent work to back up their claim that they know what they're talking about. Although this isn't always essential.
    That's not to say I wouldn't listen to and value all opinions to some degree, but i'd probably pay more attention to what Trent Parke was telling me than my neighbour.
  19. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Yes I think that's where this part of the discussion netted out and what Kate was suggesting.
  20. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    I'm glad that you used 'preferably'. IMHO the skills of appraisal and the skills of creating ones own work are quite different. Being good at one isn't an indication that one will be good at the other. Happily the two sometimes do come together and that's the best situation.

    We had a judge last night who boasted an LRPS (the lowest of the Royal distinctions and not too hard to achieve). In short I reckon that most members didn't expect much - but actually he was excellent.


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