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February 26, 2008

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Kal Khogali

When I was based in Shanghai, a Chinese photographer Wang Gang Feng expressed that art for the sake of art is for the "artist", but that to be successful, accessibility was the key. Art for arts sake is all well and good, but the need for personal acceptance, or more precisely, the ACTUAL acceptance of your art, was a key driver for the feeling of personal success. That success is not only defined as monetary as in his case, but that personal feeling of self-esteem that goes with recognition. So though I do believe that much of that self-imposed pressure as you put it may create angst, it is driven less by our need to create significant work as measured by our own standards, but by those of others. I personally had a turning point about a month an a half ago when I asked myself the question "to be or not to be myself?"...I decided that I wanted to be me, and I wanted my pictures to be me. Am I disappointed when there is not enough interest in an image I have posted, well HELL yes! But I know that taking a picture that does not interest others should not be taken personally. Afterall as Adalberto Tirbuzi says "photographs are the dead leaves of life"...after I am gone, they will tell my story. Not anybody elses. I doubt this has helped the angst much ;))K

Jeff Seltzer

Interesting discussion. Personally, I do strive to create significant work - I don't think there's anything wrong with that. By "significant" I mean good, interesting, high-quality. What's wrong with that? I tend to post only my best images, or at least what I think are my best images. And, I admit, I get frustrated when I go through periods in which I don't product "significant" work. That's why I do things like take a BF.com class. Or, what I did the other day, a shoot with models. The purpose of these pursuits is to simply just get out shooting, to re-discover the joy. And, what happens more times than not, "significant" work emerges again.

jude

oy, oy.. do I have a lot to say.

Well, I think it's a broad generalization to say that we feel that "need to be 'on' all the time" - to tell the truth, it sounds like we are viewed as snobs. There is not a one of us on that site that is alike - not in images, personality, nor in our reasons for posting.

So unless someone is a mind-reader they have no idea why each individual posts and the dynamic behind it.

What we have in commen, I think, is that we went there for the reasons you say - to get away from the shallow comments and tone on Pbase. It's so enjoyable to be posting where there is the possibility of getting constructive criticism; gettiing positive feedback; starting a whole line of dialogue; OR getting nothing at all. But when you receive it, you know it's for real.

Of course, it is also taken with a grain of salt. I respect the people on LIF and their opinions, BUT that doesn't mean I agree with the criticism or the lack of comment. I post what I love.. and if only I love it, that's cool too. I know many of the photographers aren't flower lovers (even though I think my flower pics are different than the norm).. I know they get sick of snow scenes (don't we FREAKING all).. i know I don't do street work (there are no streets available at this time of year ... lol). But it's all good.

Part deux :P

I understand the angst because I go through periods of it every year. Right now the images I'm posting I love BUT I'm quite aware that a lot of them are of the same ilk - that I'm not finding a variety of subject to shoot this time of year. One thing I always tried to do was a variety, and every winter I find it very difficult and frustrating.

I want to do something completely different. I want (don't laugh) to do underwater photos. I've been looking at underwater housing and good lord it's expensive.

I'm rambling.. i know.

Chuck, I was really surprised to read that your angst has lasted a few years. I think if it is causing you grief then looking into the motivation behind why you do photography is needed. You do know, don't you, that if one was complacent they would never progress and become even better. I also don't think it's wrong to expect "significant" work from yourself since you have done such amazing work already.

The key, my friend, is finding work that is significant in your own eyes, and to figure out if you are shooting to please others INSTEAD of what "turns you on" photographically. I think one knows what speaks to their soul because they become excited, happy, and obsessed (or is that just me? lol)

Do you know why I pulled all my photos off pbase in December? well, we won't go into that :), but a month later I decided to go back and post only new work - or work I had taken and never shown before. Why? Because I didn't want to rely on my previous - and well-received - body of work. I wanted to start over to see if I could, again, build up some galleries I'd be proud of. The test was for me, not anyone else.

Do I think I need more by way of experimentation, etc? hell yeah!

Do I think I need to improve in 100's of ways? um, duh .. of course!

Do I think I own the visual world? are you kidding? it's got my name all over it ;)

Craig Persel

I'm not sure I agree with the assessment that the internet has caused new photographers to think that they need to always produce significant work. The majority of photography - as always - consists of 99% snapshots and I think those people are happy and content with that. What the combination of digital photography and the internet have produced is a much more wide open and accessible field of opportunities for those interested in higher levels of photography. First, the ability to quickly produce images. Secondly, to learn faster as a result. Thirdly, to get much more feedback via other photographers. Fourthly, to be able to view loads of great images on a daily basis. It all adds up to much greater access and learning capabilities. That said ... this could have the effect on some people of feeling "pressure" to produce more photos and at a higher quality. Personally, I like this type of situation and environment because it can be very fertile ground for growing in one's creativity and skill. Any pressure one feels is, I think, self-imposed and not an intrinsic quality of the digital/internet photography community.

Craig

jude

damn, that craig guy is smart ;)
I agree.. it is self imposed. Maybe because we are hard task masters with ourselves, or maybe because we are fearful that we've done our last "significant" image - what if we don't have anymore in us?

Yes, sometimes that is my fear.

Chuck

Interesting discussion. I like the thought process shared by all. Thanks for chiming in.

Kal Khogali

Then you will be remembered for (and will always remember)your greatest work. That is the thing about great images, they stand on their own...;-)I don't think any of you have to worry on that front!...Yes, Craig is smart..annoying, isn't it ;-)K

david

I've been thinking about this since reading it the day you posted it. Part of me feels a little better that you seem to feel in a similar way to me, but I'm also quite concerned by the fact you have felt this way for so long (a couple of years!).
I am incredibly angst ridden at the moment and at times feel I almost need a complete break from the craft. The reason for this (as I have been moaning about for quite some time) being a combination of my day job where I take hundreds of pictures a week at school, the evening job where I process the day pictures and the fact that I've hit a point on a learning curve which I've been sailing along driven by successes achieved by the beginner's mind. I should probably stop making excuses, being so precious and as a good friend of mine used to say…DO SOMETHING!
I do though really hope the day returns where I find myself getting up in the middle of the night and heading out into the street with an idea or after a grueling day’s work, feeling dead on my feet, I find the energy to try out a new flash technique.
Should our hobby make us miserable? Well it didn’t used to.
You are an exceptional photographer and naturally as a consequence set yourself high standards. You should be driven by the need to produce original work because you have a unique vision. The result of you angst seems to be inhibiting your ability to express yourself. Great photographs don’t come by that often you’ve just got to be ready when they do.

Alejandra

Hi Chuck!!It's seems that we are walking in the same process!!
I found an interesting site with a free book called Path, way-of-working.
Take a look!!
http://www.photokaboom.com/sub_menus/PATH.htm
Greetings from Argentina!!

Alejandra

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to provide honest feedback to each other versus the shallow community predominant on the Pbase website.

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The group was born out of a desire to have a more legitimate community of photographers willing to provide honest feedback to each other versus the shallow (my words) community predominant on the Pbase website.

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Conversely, I think that the age we live in and the internet in particular has made it possible for new photographers to think that every work they make should be significant. This is a visual culture and we photographers feel like we own it... or, should own

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each other versus the shallow (my words) community predominant on the Pbase website. This is well trodden ground, so I won't go over it again here.

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Back in my film days, 90% of my photographs were shot in b&w. Over time, I came to think in b&w. Only now do I realize what a powerful mindset that was. When you remove the color information, your mind changes. Think about how your previsualization works when you know that the color you are seeing will not be part of the final image. You immediately begin to focus on things like texture, contrast, tonal range, shape, and form. All of the subtle things can turn a good image into a great image. Heck, I used to actually use the "zone system" to place the shadows or highlights right where I wanted them. Just thinking about the zone system before pressing the shutter is an exercise in good photography. It causes you to consider the elements in the photographs as elements and how they should work as part of the whole.

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