RE: Actual photograph

From: Baird, Darryl ^lt;>
Date: 03/17/05-10:22:40 AM Z
Message-id: <>

While studying and researching the origins of picture-making, I've
come to realize we photographers have gotten this concept all wrong.
We don't make photographs, we make pictures. The photograph is a
medium, the camera a tool, and the print a representation or

The past is just that -- the past. Film has passed or is in passing.
To create distinctions between pro and amateur, silver-gelatin and
inkjet, or raster versus halide is really too thin a slice to
ultimately matter in a historical version of our times. It won't
matter much, yet we will draw those distinctions and we will create
our clubs, societies, and listservs to continue our disctintion. That
to me is more interesting than this current dialogue. It's what we
actually do as artists that really counts, not the materials or the
tools... unless you're an earthwork artist. (Re-Picturing the Picturesque) -- my new project
about a history of making pictures

-Darryl Baird

-----Original Message-----
From: Jack Fulton []
Sent: Thu 3/17/2005 10:50 AM
Subject: Re: Actual photograph
I cannot just jump into these various "conversations" and shall merely

wade. So, I'll proffer a
few quick 'snaps' of thoughts.

Joe's (& others) description/lament is sweet albeit romantic and
perhaps Ludditic at
its core but there is a lot to agree with.
Yet, though film is disappearing, the digital camera is improving. Is
not Nikon coming
out w/something like 13, 14 or more mpxls ASAP? Yeup, four grand or
more. Too much,
but pro cameras were and still are up toward the stratosphere.
Re materials and attitudes, when I introduced color to our curriculum
in the 70's other
classes did not wish to crit the work for they felt it wasn't
photography. You'll remember
Frank's dictum that "B/W is the COLOR of photography". Now color is
darned near de

Then, too, what has happened with the flaneur? Perhaps the peripatetic

cell phone used
might be the same. They are often idle folks merely wishing to chat re

the 'essence of the street'.
Whether it be a Holga image (don't care for most meself), a Samsung
cell phone pic, one
fr a super Canon (gee, we could call that a can of soup), a single
frame from a DV vid-cam, a
homemade pinhole image, or one from one of these newfangled digital
cameras, they are all
created by the action of light and the properties of optical construct

or actuality.
If these images formed by the raison of description of dimensional
space by light I believe them
to be a photograph as has been described within these last postings.

Now, how they are printed, which I feel much of what has been bantered

about here, is it not
the ultimate quality of the print that we like. Whether it be hand or
machine made, there is a
"touch" which separates the personal from the automatic. Does not the
true lover relish the
touch? It is as if vision ha perfume when a photographic image is well

made. I'll surely agree
that many a digital image 'sucks' due to flaccidity of modulation but
one tweaked with content
explained via contrast, hue, brightness, is as enjoyable as any other
form of print in the medium.

One thing the digital stuff has allowed, is a manipulation of the
image. I speak not so much of the
montage which seemingly has the characteristic signature of "too much
man!", but more of the
subtle swings and tilts of the large format camera, the possibilities
of placing areas out of focus, of
the ultimate crop and an ability to actually remove the tree from
behind Mrs. Wilson's head.

I dunno. Some of you folks are a bit overboard about exactly what a
photograph is or can be. But,
in the long run, no mater what or how, that 'handmade' look is what I
want, along w/an idea. It is like
knowing some sentient being loved it.

Jack Fulton.

On Mar 17, 2005, at 6:28 AM, Joe Smigiel wrote:

>>>> 03/16/05 10:12 PM >>>
>>> Joe,
> I think its a matter of semantics...
> Bob Schramm<<
> Hi Bob,
> Yes. I think a large part of this philosophical discussion about
> is photography is precisely about the meaning and interpretation of
> word.
> The reason I have persisted in this discussion is because I feel
> Photography is being redefined, and in my opinion erroniously so, as
> digital at the expense of conventional silver halide and historic
> processes. Now, one could pooh-pooh that trend as being something
> to worry about, justified as technology marches on, etc., and my
> reaction as, well, reactionary and very old school, academic, etc.,
> I think there is a real danger in terms of potential loss of
> Witness the reduced availability and production of certain films and
> papers, while at the same time the popular photographic literature
> swung over to being primarily about digital capture and output
> The part that I find scary is that the printmaking aspect of
> photography
> is somehow morphing into encompassing primarily inkjet prints and
> things which, IMO, have much less intrinsic value because they lack
> handmade aspects that Dick, myself, and others have commented on. I
> believe there is a growing acceptance by galleries to label such
> as "photographs" and, if calling them photographs isn't bad enough,
> they
> are also trying to call them things which lead the uninformed
> that they are getting a traditional photograph (ala "carbon print"
> "platinum giclee" or "pigment print") when they are getting a
> type of printed image, more mechanical and less handcrafted.
> conventional and alternative photographic processes will eventually
> finally be accepted as truly valid art forms rather than "some
> stepchild of the Arts" when "digital photography" totally captures
> hearts of the greater unwashed. I'd say that would be "a good
> but I'm afraid they try to lock me up.)
> Scarier still is the perception that Photography now is that image
> the cell phone or the LCD/CRT on your desk. To me, there is a
> difference between being a camera operator and a photographer. The
> latter denotes a professional artist or imaging professional and
> printmaker, and I want to keep that distinction alive. There is
> a difference between a picture and a print and a photographic print
> a lithograph and I want to keep that distinction also.
> Several years ago I was involved in a committee at school to develop
> "New Media" courses and programs. One of the vice-presidents of the
> college in charge of "technology" seriously asserted that we could
> provide inexpensive point-and-shoot 2-megapixel cameras to students
> a
> proposed digital photography course and have them output their work
> the computer screen or color xerox and that would be all we needed
> run the course and everyone would be doing "photography." That's
> to me because that person held the purse strings.
> While I won't go into details, I will say that I and others were
> successful in convincing the committee that Photography encompassed
> much more than web graphics and I also designed, implimented and
> a course in Digital Photography for a year at the college. I
> it as a Fine Art Printmaking course. So, I'm not against inkjet
> or digital cameras or scanners, I just think they fall under a
> category than Photography, that there is a great danger in not
> redefining these new technologies properly, and that the output
> be called what it is. Is there really something wrong with calling
> output a "pigment inkjet print" or "dye-sublimation print" ? Call
> them
> what they are.
> I'll shut up now.
> Joe
You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket.
                        John Adams

Received on Thu Mar 17 10:24:02 2005

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