Lens Culture Art Photography award winners

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#3
Some interesting things here, but as so often is the case I struggle a bit to fully appreciate why some of the images are winners.
Well that's the thing isn't it? People are different and like different things. Often it's trying to get behind why something was selected that really engages me, I might not "like" a photo but some people did and I want to know why.
 
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#4
Often it's trying to get behind why something was selected that really engages me, I might not "like" a photo but some people did and I want to know why.
That's one of the reasons it's interesting :)

I first went through this exercise many years ago in my late teens early twenties looking at Edward Weston Photographs, and being blown away by some of them and being completely confused over how the same person could produce photographs that I just couldn't figure out why they had been taken at all.

I've been working through the Bloomsbury series of books on the basics of creative photography (five books) written by photography lecturers and its interesting how photography seems to be taught as much as an intellectual exercise as it does a creative one, and understanding the background and context of a photograph is an important part of understanding the photograph.

I've also been watching the Tate and other art gallery youtube videos on individual paintings and much of what is discussed revolves around the reasons behind the painting, the life circumstances of the artist at the time of painting, how it fits in with their other work and the work of other artists etc. And this background adds greatly to the appreciation and understanding of the painting being discussed.

I think, until the last year or so, in spite of the early Weston experience, I hadn't fully embraced the full potential of their being much more to a photograph than meets the eye. Even something as simple as reading the caption accompanying a photograph can transform your appreciation of it, or assessing the message from an entire series or sequence of photographs can change your assessment of an individual photograph.

At least this seems to be where I have come to, so far, in my re-learning of photography and its multitude of applications.
 
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#5
I haven't checked out all of the pictures and stories behind them but a couple I read on The Guardian site showing some of these works were the sort of immature studenty artspeak justification which gets art a bad reputation.

I'm not sure how to judge this sort of stuff. As conceptual art, or as photography? Very little of it seems to stand up as both to me. The first and second places strike me as justified..
 
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#7
Why do we have to categorise them? Someone saw fit to show us a rendition of how they see the world, what caught their eye, what engaged them. Some other people saw fit to judge those images and given them an award, all of this represents a number of aspects of the human condition. It’s a complex soup of motivations: fashion, reflected glory, iconoclasm, politics; but significantly what people find to be engaging and expressive.

I linked the Lens Culture site because you can click through sets of images rather than the single images on the Guardian site.

I agree about the art-speak but the art world has normalised the idea of an “artist’s statement“ and it often seems like such statements are post-hoc box-ticking (see what I did there) for being allowed into art-spaces. As an antidote to this I strongly recommend Johnathon Meades on Jargon https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09xzsbp - the last 15 minutes or so is about art jargon and Will Self on Culture (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00076ny).
 
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#8
Thanks for the insights and the link, it's useful to read your thoughts.
Bear in mind they are the thoughts of someone who has been out of touch with the art world for nearly forty years! I'm not anti-conceptualism, I'm a little distrustful of how sloppy a lot of it is and have this silly idea that if you are majking something which is a visual representation of a concept it ought to stand on its visual merits regardless of the thinking behind it. That's not to say it has to be beautiful or traditional, but that it must make people want to give it more than a passing glnace. That's where a lot of stuff falls down for me. I look at it and it doesn't hold my attention. Often that's because it looks like an imitation of something I've seen before.
 

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#9
Thanks for posting that.

On first look, I can't see any I don't like. Many are astonishingly good.

If only I had a smidgin of talent. :(

I shall look more carefully later.
 
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#10
It's Lens Culture which has categorised the work with it's awards. Art, Street, etc. So if this is the Art category then maybe it should be judged as art?

...the art world has normalised the idea of an “artist’s statement“ and it often seems like such statements are post-hoc box-ticking (see what I did there) for being allowed into art-spaces.
I don't remember it being so prevalent forty years ago.

Meades has it nailed. He also has the 'clout' to be able to express his views without being labelled a Philistine. "Spokesmoron". :ROFLMAO:

The difficulty conceptualism has always had is that it is essentially philosophy. Early on it would be presented as text works but they don't sit well in a gallery space which demands objects which are unique and can be marketed. That's my take on it.
 
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#11
At first glance they seem to me like the usual collection of art school excercises. A longer look reinforces that impression. On the other hand if they please some people there's no further need to justify or defend them.
 
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#12
I'm a little distrustful of how sloppy a lot of it is and have this silly idea that if you are majking something which is a visual representation of a concept it ought to stand on its visual merits regardless of the thinking behind it.
I'm not sure what I think, but in principle I think I agree that the photograph still needs to draw me in and have visual interest, even if knowing about the concept adds to its understanding and appreciation.
 
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#13
I'm not sure what I think, but in principle I think I agree that the photograph still needs to draw me in and have visual interest, even if knowing about the concept adds to its understanding and appreciation.
Meades says something in the video about art being communication and a lot of stuff failing to fulfil that purpose.
 
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#14
I don't remember it being so prevalent forty years ago.
Possibly because 40 years ago there was no pressure on galleries to be "accessible", they were happy to be elitist.

they don't sit well in a gallery space which demands objects which are unique and can be marketed. That's my take on it.
I think you are correct to some extent although I suspect (hope?) it is deeper and more nuanced than simple commerce
 
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#15
I think you are correct to some extent although I suspect (hope?) it is deeper and more nuanced than simple commerce
Maybe not solely commerce, but certainly about career building in Meades's 'art loop'.
 
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#16
I think I agree that the photograph still needs to draw me in and have visual interest,
I'm sure we all find that 90% of art (ALL art, not just modern stuff and not just photography) doesn't move us, is trite, fails in its aims, or is just plain rubbish. However we will never agree which 10% is good, we are all different. So some photos engage some of us and some don't. I find photography to be the most immediate in a way, some photos almost instantly burn themselves into my brain but I find with other media it takes a longer time for them to make an impact if they are going to impact me at all.

It really is OK to like what you like and be ambivalent about or dislike the rest.
 
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#18
I find the relationship of art and commerce an awkward one, but even artists need to eat.
What happend to starving in garrets? :D

Seriously, they could do what poets do. Get proper jobs and produce art in their spare time. (y)
 
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#19
Seriously, they could do what poets do. Get proper jobs and produce art in their spare time.
But surely it's better to create an evironement that helps separate those with too much disposable income from said spare cash? And if that takes a few ambiguous words on a card, a "space" with white walls and wood floors, a cafe, a spokesmoron or two and an evenings kowtowing then why not?
 
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#20
But surely it's better to create an evironement that helps separate those with too much disposable income from said spare cash? And if that takes a few ambiguous words on a card, a "space" with white walls and wood floors, a cafe, a spokesmoron or two and an evenings kowtowing then why not?
(y)

Never give a sucker and even break. ;)
 
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#22
I'm sure we all find that 90% of art (ALL art, not just modern stuff and not just photography) doesn't move us, is trite, fails in its aims, or is just plain rubbish.
It really is OK to like what you like and be ambivalent about or dislike the rest.
But, is there a difference between failing to move us, being trite, failing in its aims or being just plain rubbish. How do we know whether the failure is with the artist, or with ourselves. Should we be working harder to appreciate what is being offered. Are we missing out on experiencing great art through our own failings. I'm not suggesting this applies to all art, and of course even experts disagree on what is good art and what is not, and I don't expect to like everything, just not sure at the moment on what it is I like, and what it is I don't.

What I like today isn't what I used to like, and not liking something doesn't mean I can't still appreciate its possible value. But I'm really thinking out loud here, so maybe I need to retire from this conversation :-(
 
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#24
How do we know whether the failure is with the artist, or with ourselves.
It isn't necessarily a failure anywhere IMHO, I have no interest in football so no amount of great sports writing or football photography is going to engage me in a football match, no matter how good it is. Because I don't engage with it I don't know what is good and what isn't, so I just stay away from that whole arena. It's not that the football photographers have failed to grab my attention or that I have failed to be a football fan.

With art it’s a bit more nebulous and that is where we maybe need a description of what the art is about because sometimes there might be something which we feel we ought to engage with once we know the intent. I have no interest in royalty and little interest in renaissance history so an allegorical painting of King Charles as an ancient Greek figure in the heavens just looks like a rather silly bloke floating around on a cloud to me. That said my daughter took me to a Hew Locke exhibition and we both looked round it with a sense of bemusement and came away not knowing what to think. A day later I realised that it had had a very powerful effect on me in some subtle and indescribable way. So personally I try to keep an open mind and if people I respect are saying that something is good I do make the effort to try to understand what they see in it, I don’t always “get it” but I don’t see that as a failure just diversity of interest.
 
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#25
I'm gonna get sacked at this rate, must do some work, but here's a couple from Jem Southam's instgram. I wouldn't hang either on the wall but he first works for me, I like the composition and tones, the second does absolutely nothing for me, it looks like any old under exposed snap. They are examples of how my perscpeiton of the work one photographer can vary between two essentially similar photos

View: https://www.instagram.com/p/B1HNewSgiD6/?utm_source=ig_web_options_share_sheet


View: https://www.instagram.com/p/B1HjVIxAGtl/?utm_source=ig_web_options_share_sheet
 
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#26
So personally I try to keep an open mind and if people I respect are saying that something is good I do make the effort to try to understand what they see in it, I don’t always “get it” but I don’t see that as a failure just diversity of interest.
Maybe failure is too strong a word, as I'm not trying to suggest that not seeing it, after you had made an effort to try and understand it, is a failure in the sense of it being something serious lacking in a person. I was trying to promote the open minded approach you suggest, and making a reasonable level of effort to understand, before deciding your don't like it, is something all artists deserves. And I admit being influenced to "try harder" by the views expressed by people who should know better than I do.

As an aside I've never been able to get into football, or other sports either.
 
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#27
. They are examples of how my perscpeiton of the work one photographer can vary between two essentially similar photos
A bit like, but more subtle, than my comment about Weston.

Having nearly finished reading my book on design principles, the first image which you prefer, as do I, seems to better follow the principles of design that we are apparently drawn to.
 
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#28
I'm gonna get sacked at this rate, must do some work, but here's a couple from Jem Southam's instgram. I wouldn't hang either on the wall but he first works for me, I like the composition and tones, the second does absolutely nothing for me, it looks like any old under exposed snap. They are examples of how my perscpeiton of the work one photographer can vary between two essentially similar photos

View: https://www.instagram.com/p/B1HNewSgiD6/?utm_source=ig_web_options_share_sheet


View: https://www.instagram.com/p/B1HjVIxAGtl/?utm_source=ig_web_options_share_sheet
The second one could be an example of a picture which works better seen larger where the two horses are more noticeable. Not all pictures work the same at different sizes.
 
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#29
The second one could be an example of a picture which works better seen larger where the two horses are more noticeable. Not all pictures work the same at different sizes.
I couldn't agree more, even the quality of the reproduction at a similar size can make a huge difference. I went to see the Don McCullin exhibition and his prints were 100x better than anything in a book or on a screen even though many were a similar size to what I had seen previously
 
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#30
making a reasonable level of effort to understand, before deciding your don't like it, is something all artists deserves.
In all seriousness: why? I think that an artist deserves whatever attention and opinion others wish to give or withold. Just like the rest of us.
 
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#31
In all seriousness: why? I think that an artist deserves whatever attention and opinion others wish to give or withold. Just like the rest of us.
I think everyone deserves a reasonable effort made into understanding them or their work before making a judgement, but art and artists may be different as they rely on emotional and subjective responses to their work, which is often set out to challenge the way we think about things and therefore, may require more effort to understand than more objective based aspects of life.
 
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#32
I think everyone deserves a reasonable effort made into understanding them or their work before making a judgement.
That's a view from the artist's position but what about the viewer? If there were a million viewers and only 100 artists, it might have merit but now there's a million artists all clamouring for the attention of the viewers. Why should the viewers be expected to do more than glance and make up their mind instantly whether to examine more closely or more likely pass on to the next thing?
 
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#33
I think that an artist deserves whatever attention and opinion others wish to give or withold. Just like the rest of us.
That's a view from the artist's position but what about the viewer? If there were a million viewers and only 100 artists, it might have merit but now there's a million artists all clamouring for the attention of the viewers. Why should the viewers be expected to do more than glance and make up their mind instantly whether to examine more closely or more likely pass on to the next thing?
Entirely valid. Life is short(ish) and in these multimedia days we're swamped with stuff. But if and when attention is decided to be given, then it's as Graham says ..
 
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#34
I'm gonna get sacked at this rate, must do some work, but here's a couple from Jem Southam's instgram. I wouldn't hang either on the wall but he first works for me, I like the composition and tones, the second does absolutely nothing for me, it looks like any old under exposed snap. They are examples of how my perscpeiton of the work one photographer can vary between two essentially similar photos

View: https://www.instagram.com/p/B1HNewSgiD6/?utm_source=ig_web_options_share_sheet


View: https://www.instagram.com/p/B1HjVIxAGtl/?utm_source=ig_web_options_share_sheet
you are a real pro!
 
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#37
That's a view from the artist's position but what about the viewer? If there were a million viewers and only 100 artists, it might have merit but now there's a million artists all clamouring for the attention of the viewers. Why should the viewers be expected to do more than glance and make up their mind instantly whether to examine more closely or more likely pass on to the next thing?
In the spirit it was written it was both about me as a photographer, to help improve my own photography, and as a viewer to help me appreciate other people's photographs. And, it was posted as part of thread made up of contributions from photographers interested in photography, and other arts, discussing art appreciation, so its clearly directed at photographers, with a specialist interest in photography, photographs and art in general.

And it was part of a thread triggered by a small number of photographs that had achieved some recognition of quality through the Lens Culture awards, and I think if you follow the thread of my comments, they were about putting effort into understanding photographs presented as having merit, through winning awards, or the reputation of the artist, even if the 'merit" wasn't immediately obvious.

The "deserving" part came from the photographer putting enough effort into their art to warrant winning an award, or achieving a good reputation, for work I didn't particularly like or understand deserving a little bit of effort from me (or the viewer) If someone works very hard for their art, and is serious about the work they produce, then yes I do think they deserve more than just a glance, including reading around the intent and context of the work.

But, I'm not suggesting you do that for every single photograph you ever look at, which is how you seem to have interpreted it, only those where there seems a good reason to make the additional effort for.
 
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#38
In the spirit it was written... ...But, I'm not suggesting you do that for every single photograph you ever look at...
I accept that. However, it isn't possible for a reader to understand more than what you type. The temptation to write as we would speak leads I think to most of the confrontation on forums.
 
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