Re: Crappy/Krappy

From: Charlie Goodwin ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 01/03/05-01:36:26 PM Z
Message-id: <>

I am a long time photographer and painter. Some thoughts about endless photographic technical discussions follow.

Photographers talk about equipment and technique till the cows come home (here most intelligently of all fora I have come across, bless you all;since here are discussed things which matter- technique relevant to results; results relevant to esthetics; what matters esthetically.....).

Brief one paragraph rant follows that you can ignore...

On most other photography lists, discussions are dominated by meaningless and unanswerable questions of the ilk: " What lens should I buy?", "What's the best film of all?", and one of my favorites, "What camera should I buy?" All which are best answered by - borrow, rent, steal if you must, but try, as cheap as you can, and see for yourself. - but are usually responded to by a listing of various people's favorite this or that, whether relvant to the questioner or not.

End of rant.

Painters do talk about paint and mediums, brushes, papers and canvasses, etc., but usually the discussions are brief, and terminate by something like, " If you want to know about Supergoop1000, I have an extra tube. You're welcome to try some."

Since painting is so immediate, tactile / experiential, many subjects get dealt with awfully quickly with some variation of " try it."

Longer technical discussions I see revolve around fussy and tricky aspects of things like perspective, hard to put in words, yet vital to some art. "That horizon line needs to be blah blah.....this line isn't consistent with that line if both are supposed to parallel..."

In photography there is the belief that given the correct (magic) lens, film, or camera etc. (I don't yet have), we will make incredible photographs. It hasn't worked for me. But the discussion of what's what remains fascinating till it begins to sink in that the limiting element is the photographer, me. Yes, for certain technical work, the right equipment is essential, but I have been able to make a muck out of ordinary, non technical work, with no built in excuse.

I'll hypothesize that after the realization hits that the photographer is the weak link, much chatter in pursuit of magic techno-greatness ceases, and that what remains is talk like the content of this forum.

My perspective on the Diannas and Holgas and pinhole cameras, and their esthetic validity, technical control, happenstance, previsualization.... is that ultimately not one technical thing matters. Not in the slightest. At least not to the greater world. The only question that matters is whether the work is interesting. Whether a work originated from a brush or a pinhole or a Schneider or a palette knife doesn't matter.

Somehow, some folks make interesting work over and over, whole great careers worth, without excess technical baggage. Exhibit A is Diane Arbus. She ferreted out exactly what she needed, and nothing beyond. She changed the world. I would argue the same is true for Weston or Adams, that their tools economically mapped onto their goals. The goals were big and interesting, the tools matched the goals. The rest is history.

Results matter. Nothing else. How obtained is interesting perhaps to other photographers or painters, but to the rest of the world, not at all. My corollary: be suspicious of art aimed at only other practitioners of the same medium; one need not be a connoisseur of technical trivia to appreciate fully sucessful artwork.

I would venture that it is lack of goals, or shallow goals, or a mismatch between means and ends that dooms much artwork.

Goals don't get the inspection they need.


> > ..... I don't see painters saying "I
> > used a #3 round head brush" and measuring with scales exactly what
> > combinations of paint they used to get that color or timing how long
> > they let their canvas dried before applying the next coat.

> If painters *believed* paint X would be superior to Y, and the
> difference could only be seen with the skilled eyes, often with some
> delay between the time of its application and emergence of visual
> difference, they would talk about the paint X all day long.

> I don't know why people generally talk more about equipment, film,
> etc. in front of actual images than what the image expresses. It may
> be that the instancy of brief camera exposure makes some images more
> easily interpretable. It may be that many photographers believe in
> that the particular image can be made only with the equipment used and
> nothing else.
Received on Mon Jan 3 13:36:48 2005

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