Each of us has a camera in our hand, but ...

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droj
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#1
I think that this forum is a very useful place to give and get advice on any technical issues to do with photography. And enthusiasts of all badges hang out here - plane photographers, fungi photographers, lighting camerapeople (adaptation of a movie term), landscapers (inescapably) - you name it, it might be here. I understand that there's even a tit and boudoir section:eek:. Hardware topics are rife and well-attended - nowt wrong with that by itself.

One thing puzzles me. How many of us on here actually take a more than glancing interest in the history and culture of photography - which is inescapably our context. How else can we place ourselves in terms of what we do, or get a rounded sense of what we're at?

It hardly needs a 'history of photography' forum, surely? There's plenty out there in books and on the internet for the interested to explore. But I keep getting the impression that many on these forums just aren't actually very interested in the cultural aspects of photography. It certainly doesn't feature largely. Isn't it interesting? Why not? Surely it's the single topic that consumes all the rest?
 
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#2
:tumbleweed:
 

StephenM

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#3
I'm interested. I've got a number of books on the history of photography, and I've even read some of them :D The better ones look beyond the technical aspects to the historical development of the art.

But if all you're interested in is the here and now, and keeping up to date with the latest cameras/sensors/lenses etc then I can see that it wouldn't appeal. There was one (now defunct) forum where one member seemed to be proud of the fact that he couldn't name two photographers - though he later retracted when he found he knew about half a dozen names.
 
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#5
I think you know my answer.

Never visited an 'art gallery' or photo exhibition in my life and would have no intention of doing so. In the days of me reading camera magazines - I always skipped the section on 'the photographer & their work' bit as I found it as 'boring as hell'.

The techie sections & camera tests were far more interesting as were the product release news.

I do like the 'instructional' books on camera settings or lighting set-ups and seeing the end results of this but as for just a book of photographs with the emotions/feelings it evokes........naaaahhh; not for me.

Sorry :-(
 
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#6
I don't know why the majority of people who use cameras aren't interested in photography beyond the taking of photographs and the gear required. It's baffling to me that they don't seem to want to understand as much about their chosen medium as they can. But that's the way it appears to be.

Perhaps it's because taking photographs is something just about everyone does and photographs so ubiquitous? It is as everyday as eating, and most of us don't research the history of food and it's cultural significances.
 
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#7
Not OTT, I do occasionally do art exhibitions, much more often than I do photography exhibitions.

I own books photography, I haven’t read them all.

I’m frustrated / amused / bewildered that it’s so difficult to have a discussion about photography on what is ostensibly a forum for the discussion of photography.

We can do 73 pages on the launch of a new camera but struggle to do a couple of pages on high profile photo competitions. Whenever the A word is mentioned, there’s a queue of people to dismiss the concept. What bothers me about this is that no one goes to the bird section to tell people bird photography is pointless, but there’s an element of inverted snobs who seem to wish to bash any sort of art discussion.
 
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#8
I don't know why the majority of people who use cameras aren't interested in photography beyond the taking of photographs and the gear required. It's baffling to me that they don't seem to want to understand as much about their chosen medium as they can. But that's the way it appears to be.

Perhaps it's because taking photographs is something just about everyone does and photographs so ubiquitous? It is as everyday as eating, and most of us don't research the history of food and it's cultural significances.
............but what is Photography?

@Phil V recently stated in another thread - "It's the Art & Science of recording an image" (I think). this is pretty accurate and there will always be people interested in 'the art', others interested in 'the science' and others interested in both.

Most enjoy photography as a hobby and it is not for us to criticise or try to understand why people enjoy the pastime.

I can't believe that people using a camera aren't interested in how the AF system works, how the sensor works, how the mechanics behind an SLR works and have an amazing admiration for the engineering involved in that 'small light box' they hold in their hand. I get they are not interested in the slightest and enjoy the hobby for a completely different reason to myself.

I love the history of the science but not the history of 'the art'.

I would add that I would never criticise someone for 'appreciating the art' though - it's every bit as valid; probably more so to most than the science.
 
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#9
I am interested in photography in the same way that a watercolorist is interested in brushes and paper. I consider myself an artist who uses a camera as his main tool. The picture is important - and I insist on calling them pictures and not photographs - the rest isn't of any value beyond being useful tools.

I exhibit several times a year in juried art exhibitions where the curators have no interest at all in sharpness, blown highlights, dynamic range and the rest of the nonsense. Their only interest in choosing the pictures to include is whether it is a good picture or not.

I also have an entirely separate interest in the engineering development of cameras which has led me to collecting camera milestones.
 
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#10
I find myself interested in the certain photographers, particularly those who did war and conflict reportage. What drove them to go to war? What gave them the drive to lift the camera to their eye when bullets were flying?
 
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#11
I don't do human history period, not in any subject - so photography history is right up there with 'not interested'

I've no problem with anyone finding it fascinating though

I don't visit exhibitions either usually, but one rainy day I did visit the Bailey one in London, left me cold

I've no problem with anyone finding those fascinating either

Dave
 
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#12
Having thought about this more - I do agree with the comments made on the 'art side'. A couple of threads recently have just 'hit home' in respect to this, let me try to explain:

Over the years I have fallen 'in and out' of the photography hobby and this may well be to do with the fact i have only concentrated on a certain aspect of it and if I encompass everything the hobby has to offer I may well find it more rewarding at times?

When I 'got back into' photography again I set up a small studio in my guarage and enjoyed the new technical challenges. i started a thread on this forum and one particular contributor has been kind enough to offer feedback on each image I posted; not only technically but also 'artistically' which I have actually found more interesting and thought provoking than I thought.

...........anyway; thanks to everybody - got a smile on my face and a 'whole' half of my hobby to now research and try to improve - lets call it 'the A side'. (y)
 
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#13
On BBC 4 at the moment is a program called 'on camera, photographers at the BBC'. It's about some of the greatest photographers of the last 60yrs.
 
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droj
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droj
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#17
I would add that I would never criticise someone for 'appreciating the art' though - it's every bit as valid; probably more so to most than the science.
I think that we agreee to be opposite. Such is human life.
I find myself interested in the certain photographers, particularly those who did war and conflict reportage. What drove them to go to war? What gave them the drive to lift the camera to their eye when bullets were flying?
You'll be interested in the work of Philip Jones Griffiths, then? A very humanistic photographer. Striking stuff from the Vietnam war - collateral damage, indeed!
 
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droj
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#18
I don't do human history period, not in any subject - so photography history is right up there with 'not interested'

I've no problem with anyone finding it fascinating though

I don't visit exhibitions either usually, but one rainy day I did visit the Bailey one in London, left me cold

I've no problem with anyone finding those fascinating either

Dave
Good old Dave, self-sufficient to the end.
 
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#21
On BBC 4 at the moment is a program called 'on camera, photographers at the BBC'. It's about some of the greatest photographers of the last 60yrs.
Spotted that after it started............................recording now....................might have to catch the first 20mins on the iPlayer :)
 
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#22
My take on this is that for the majority of us self educated photographers, talking about the photographs and photographers (the subjective) is far harder than talking about something as objective as a new camera.

I’m in the fortunate position to have been approached by a publisher who wants to do a book of my work. Fantastic, I thought! And then they said that also wanted at least 20000 words - oh sh!t. I’ve not written that many words as a body of work since my university dissertation in 1996, and that was for an engineering degree.

I’ve said I’ll do 16000 words, but even though I am writing about my own motives and photographs it’s a struggle. It has made me think more deeply about my work though, so it’s an interesting exercise. (Whether I’d be better equipped to do this with a formal art education is an interesting it hypothetical question). I could just pad it out with camera settings and equipment but unfortunately that doesn’t really interest me and wouldn’t hold my attention long enough to complete the book though!
 
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#23
No its not ONE thing
And not even a THING
Its a process.
As to the history and work of others I'm very interested, especially in the latter. Gaining inspiration and learning about use of colors, graphics I B&W, composition, the rules, breaking the rules etc. I don't care but the tech spec beyond what's needed to do what I need. I like the proces though, especially the analogue and then there are cameras that just appeal more to me than the specsheets.
 

sirch

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#27
I don't do human history period, not in any subject - so photography history is right up there with 'not interested'

I've no problem with anyone finding it fascinating though

I don't visit exhibitions either usually, but one rainy day I did visit the Bailey one in London, left me cold

I've no problem with anyone finding those fascinating either

Dave

And yet, IIRC you have said elsewhere on this forum that you judge photographic competitions? How do they differ from works in galleries? Do you not feel that your judging might be better if you had a wider view of photography?
 
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#28
On the subject of the History of Photography, today's Google Doodle is worth having a look at. I had not even heard of Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky.

Dave
 
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#29
And yet, IIRC you have said elsewhere on this forum that you judge photographic competitions? How do they differ from works in galleries? Do you not feel that your judging might be better if you had a wider view of photography?
Yes I do, I'm a Judge for the YPU to camera clubs

They differ as they are works to a theme and they are more craft based than trying to be 'art'. In Landscapes for example most would love to shoot something like a 'Thomas Heaton' so they are almost all more at a stage of improving technique rather than aiming for artistic meaning; anyone already shooting in a more artistic way won't be entering those sorts of competitions

As to your final question, no, not at all. If I explained that 'pretty' was naff and that jumbled record shots aimed at the viewer making their own mind up were 'better' then I think there'd actually be complaints put in, its not what the masses (of club members at least) are after

Dave
 
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#31
I also drive a car. Should I study Henry Ford?
Why?
No one says you ’should’ study anything.

Just that you shouldn’t close your mind (too late for this clearly).

Henry Ford is to cars what George Eastman is to cameras. How is that even close to any kind of equivalence. o_O

But well done for the stake in the ground for the inverted snobbery. A good old chest beating declaration that doesn’t even make any sense.
 
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#32
I also drive a car. Should I study Henry Ford?
Of course not, unless you had an interest in how car companies were set up. If you wanted to be a racing driver however, you might look at past champions, which is a much closer analogy.
 
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#34
Of course not, unless you had an interest in how car companies were set up. If you wanted to be a racing driver however, you might look at past champions, which is a much closer analogy.
So, back to the OP. Did you read it?

I don't want to be a "racing driver" so why should I be interested in the history.
 
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#35
But I keep getting the impression that many on these forums just aren't actually very interested in the cultural aspects of photography.
This is exactly where I am and most of (if not all of) the photographers I come across (both ams & pros) are too - I don't think that's a bad thing, its just different and why I don't feel that the masses who produce photography to be 'pretty' would consider it to be 'art'

My Wedding clients want pretty photos of their Wedding, and my teaching clients want to know how to take better pretty photos. All of the camera clubs I attend want advice on improving technique to achieve prettier photos either for themselves or for competition. So no - its not the "single topic that consumes all the rest?" - and for the vast majority of photographers that's fine

Those photographers that want more interpretative work and to express themselves, or challenge the viewer, with work that 'my world' wouldn't appreciate nor understand is fine too; I just don't see those two worlds mixing very well - as seems to be born out in every discussion on such as TP

I see TP as a craft world rather than an art one, and hence there's clashes as neither really understands the other and often don't even have the same language

I do think a section all to itself for more artistic work and discussion thereof might be a good idea. Then arty folk can chat and discuss without mockery; those who only see craft can be reminded to stay out; and those who'd like to know what the arty folk are on about could dip in & out to taste the waters - some might even realise a 'Heaton' isn't where they wish to go and change sides!

Let's just enjoy whatever is our take on photography and crack on :)

Dave
 
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#36
Yes I do, I'm a Judge for the YPU to camera clubs

They differ as they are works to a theme and they are more craft based than trying to be 'art'. In Landscapes for example most would love to shoot something like a 'Thomas Heaton' so they are almost all more at a stage of improving technique rather than aiming for artistic meaning; anyone already shooting in a more artistic way won't be entering those sorts of competitions
:sulk:I don't know even where to begin.
Merely judging photography on the technical aspect :(
So those are the ones that are constantly advocating upgrading to FF cameras.
As to your final question, no, not at all. If I explained that 'pretty' was naff and that jumbled record shots aimed at the viewer making their own mind up were 'better' then I think there'd actually be complaints put in, its not what the masses (of club members at least) are after

Dave
Well I'd like to have points of reference to where photography is coming from and where it's going. How else to distinguish between a copy cat and a truly brilliant and creative mind?
 
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#37
I like art and photography history, nobody really talks about it here and I don't care. Because it would be the same people who argue for days about some insignificant [to the art] issue with a piece of kit that will argue over history specifics. I see this as more a gear forum tbh, especially over the past couple of years. I left for a long time because that's all it was, but returned knowing that's all it was. Sad but true. I feel the urge to leave yet again, as in, just not bother - not some drama llama "I'm done! I'm outta here" thread, because i don't care enough, but what I see on here lately stinks. Constant badgering over non important points, if you're any way sensitive or prone to peer pressure or don't fancy the same 5 people nit pick your posts every time, then maybe it's not the place for you.
 
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#38
A big aspect of my initial foray into Photography, was without doubt the technicality of it all. I liked creating memories, and I liked 'doing it well' (quotes are important!).
Then I got bored with the whole thing, I could do it 'well', or more accurately, it was hard not to with ever advancing cameras, but it was dull.

'Well' had become, exposure, rules (thirds, negative space etc), composure, light etc.

I often look back at my pictures and try to work out why I like some more than others, and in many cases, it's down to the emotional connection the photo rather than the 'quality' of the photo itself. Now I can do that easily enough for myself - I was there after all, I have the memories, the feelings, but how do others see them? How do you build any sort of emotional link to a picture for a third party viewer?

That got me interested in reading more around the subject - all my early books are technique based - how to shoot this, how to shoot that, best settings for your camera, photoshop / lightroom techniques etc. I haven't bought one of those for years. Most recently I just try to work out why images I like from others work for me, and try to apply that to my work - failing miserably at the moment, but I do like the chats / debates on why an image works etc in these groups.

More of it I say! I have a lot to learn.
 
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#39
We are all different, we take photographs for different reasons, we want different things from our photographs. So some of us will take an interest in how the camera developed. Some of us have an interest in history and will look at photographs in a a historical context. Some will do both. Others don't give a t0ss about how the camera developed (no pun intended) Others see it purely as tool to achieve something else. There is nothing wrong with any of these views.

Photography is no different to most other things in that respect.
 
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#40
:sulk:I don't know even where to begin.
Merely judging photography on the technical aspect :(
So those are the ones that are constantly advocating upgrading to FF cameras.

Well I'd like to have points of reference to where photography is coming from and where it's going. How else to distinguish between a copy cat and a truly brilliant and creative mind?
You've missed my point by quite a bit, but also shown that you're not a normal camera club type member - which is fine btw - and no they aren't advocating anything usually, other than taking better photos - better being prettier rather than trying to invent something new

There are very few people with a "truly brilliant and creative mind" in any field of life, and yet the vast majority bumble along nicely

Dave
 
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