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The lounge Relax, take a break from photo and camera talk - have a chat about something else for a change. Just keep it clean and polite!

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Photography, expectations, standards, originality

A quick musing, reflecting on my journey back towards taking photography as a more serious hobby. I have acquired some nice Olympus kit, and enjoy the way it helps me see the world, and helps me notice images, and I like composing and capturing and creating images for its own sake. (Carrying a camera that looks like a camera affects how people respond to you, I've found).


But hobby photography seems for most people to be also about sharing images and giving pleasure to others, and for some also about getting personal affirmation and recognition and even - in camera clubs at least - about winning competitions, or at least doing well.


I like the idea of giving pleasure to others, and I guess we all like a bit of gratitude or affirmation. But the world - especially social media - is awash with loads of images, many of which are wonderful. And this means that if we want our images to be noticed and to stand out, we need to do something better than or different to others.

This can lead to various trends, some of them a bit odd. I guess the main one is an improvement in kit generally (even phone cameras) and also in technique and composition. For the more competitive there seems to be a sort of arms race in kit, in which people feel that to compete and stand out they need the latest, best (and most expensive) kit. Others try to stand out by spending huge amounts of time in post processing to make an image "better"; the more time you spend - they feel - the more sophisticated you can make your image. And there is some truth in this. ("Sophisticated" comes from the same root as "sophistry" of course). Others stand out by visiting exotic locations and capturing images which are particular and unusual when presented back in their home context. People also increasingly use extraordinary viewpoints, or creatively embrace odd photographic effects / limitations / artefacts (such as geometric distortions, or out of focus areas, or blur due to subject movement and slow shutter speed, or graininess) as a way of making their images different. Fashions in consumption and appreciation of photography change and can to some extent be led.

I guess some of these trends are more benign than others.


I suppose it's worth being aware of them and making a conscious choice whether and why to embrace them, else an enjoyable hobby could turn into an expensive and time-gobbling treadmill.


I've started going to a camera club (or rather a "photographic society") and enjoy the company and the activities, but even when they have competitions I enjoy the images and learn from the comments. But I don't feel the need for scoring and winners. I prefer the model of a "bring and share" meal (known as "potluck" in the USA I think) in which all contributions are appreciated and add to the overall pleasure, and comparisons are less significant.
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Re: Photography, expectations, standards, originality

One word describes your post ................ Brilliant

John
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Re: Photography, expectations, standards, originality

I enjoyed reading that. Thank you.

These thoughts, and many like them, can be found discussed at times on my favourite photography podcast: On Taking Pictures - http://5by5.tv/otp

'Photography podcast' is a bit of a misnomer, since it's on the surface just a couple of artsy American guys of a certain age unspooling about a lot else besides (like inspiration, nostalgia, the wider arts, health, family, liberal politics...).

I expect some people on here would enjoy it, though, while others won't need to spend more than 5' deciding it's not for them.

If you do give it a try and don't initially get it, unless you find it irritating I recommend committing to listening to at least 3 to 4 consecutive episodes before giving up. It took me that long to get hooked.
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Re: Photography, expectations, standards, originality

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobEW View Post
A quick musing, reflecting on my journey back towards taking photography as a more serious hobby. I have acquired some nice Olympus kit, and enjoy the way it helps me see the world, and helps me notice images, and I like composing and capturing and creating images for its own sake. (Carrying a camera that looks like a camera affects how people respond to you, I've found).


But hobby photography seems for most people to be also about sharing images and giving pleasure to others, and for some also about getting personal affirmation and recognition and even - in camera clubs at least - about winning competitions, or at least doing well..................
Very nicely put, thank you.

The explosion of digital photography and the instant gratification that it brings has resulted in far too many subjects being 'done to death'. As you say, any new photograph needs to be outstanding in all respects if it is to be seen above the pool of compositional mediocrity that mass-market digital cameras seem to have encouraged. (Less so DSLR's I would argue.)

The 'problem' that we have now, (if it is a problem), is that almost anyone can take a passable photograph using their smart phone or compact camera, which I would argue has devalued the art of photography.

The question is, do we continue to strive to take better photographs than everyone else; does this need 'better' equipment than everyone else; or do we just get on with enjoying our photography for its own sake and for our own personal pleasure? Giving pleasure to others is a bonus irrespective of how we go about it.

I have always enjoyed my photography for its own sake, and for my own pleasure. I enjoy using good quality equipment but that is not my prime motivation. I actually get far more pleasure using my medium format film cameras than I do anything digital, and enjoy looking at the transparencies as they come out of the tank far more than looking at ORF or NEF files in Photoshop.

I think we also need to remind ourselves exactly who it is that motivates us to buy new equipment. The answer, very obviously, is the manufacturers, whose living depends on designed obsolescence. Manufacturers are very clever at manipulating our thought processes so that we crave new equipment; often by 'drip feeding' us with just enough new features to make us buy this year's new model, whilst leaving enough out to make us buy next year's new model, and the year after and so on. (Maybe less so Olympus, who like to keep us waiting. )

Having worked with the marquetry department in a big corporate I know only too well how they operate. Envy is one of their most powerful weapons, along with our natural desire to make others envious of us.

I enjoy using my OM-D E-M1 MkII, and I am under no illusions that the MkII would make me a better photographer. It won't. However, I do find that using a medium format camera (I have a Mamiya 645 and RZ67) makes me take much more 'considered' photographs, which I enjoy setting up and taking far more than on any of my digital cameras.

On the odd occasion that I have managed to shoot a roll of blanks I have still enjoyed the experience, and don't feel that the world is any poorer for my photographic malfunction.
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Re: Photography, expectations, standards, originality

With auto focus, auto exposure cameras, even a monkey can make a good job at photography:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...p-himself.html
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Re: Photography, expectations, standards, originality

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With auto focus cameras......
Or even focus free, as in many mobile phones.
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Re: Photography, expectations, standards, originality

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricoh View Post
With auto focus, auto exposure cameras, even a monkey can make a good job at photography:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...p-himself.html
In that case, why do so many of my attempts end up in the bin ?

Don't answer that, just pass the peanuts please
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Re: Photography, expectations, standards, originality

I gave up on club photography a few years back, and while still a member of one I no longer submit images into competitions.

I found myself taking pictures for the competitions and to support the club in their inter club competitions.

Now my photography is more of what I want to do, far more is in the studio working with people, building and developing their portfolios.

I also enjoy experimenting with all manner of things and have built many different lighting systems...
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Re: Photography, expectations, standards, originality

I think the best advice to any amateur photographer is to 'shoot' to please yourself, and not to please anyone else. Of course professional photographers have to satisfy a client, and what a chore that must be.

Maybe a controversial point, but I think we humans take far too many photographs - social media is evidence, we're awash in images, to the point of nearly drowning, and most are visual garbage.
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Re: Photography, expectations, standards, originality

If your wish is to take or do wildlife photography then the modern kit allows one to get much much better results.

Thus succeeding in getting reasonable results is a great pleasure. Getting really good results is still difficult enough.

My point is that any innovation that camera makes can give us a real help to achieve better results.

But at the same time, we only strive to achieve with the kit we can afford.

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Re: Photography, expectations, standards, originality

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricoh View Post
I think the best advice to any amateur photographer is to 'shoot' to please yourself, and not to please anyone else. Of course professional photographers have to satisfy a client, and what a chore that must be.

Maybe a controversial point, but I think we humans take far too many photographs - social media is evidence, we're awash in images, to the point of nearly drowning, and most are visual garbage.
Very valid point Steve and I'm willing to bet, excepting those who sell their images, a very high percentage of photos stay on hard drives, never get printed or viewed by others. I know I have literally thousands of pics saved and I really do often wonder why.

John
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Re: Photography, expectations, standards, originality

You're not alone John, I have approx 4000 on my hard drive but I'm resolved to whittle the number down to a few hundred. It's such a large number I can no longer remember what I have, and no one looks at them, not even me. Most will be garbage as I came back to togging in 2013 and I thought photography was about recording what was in front of my lens. I've moved on, I now struggle to see something good enough to capture.
The bad news, I've spent thousands on photographic kit, switching systems thinking it was going to make me better. of course it doesn't.
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Re: Photography, expectations, standards, originality

I started out with an OM1n film camera that my wife bought as a birthday present. We live near a park with a large lake and my wife still swears to this day that I photographed every single duck and swan on the lake at least 10 times. What she doesn't know is I've still got all the prints In those days it was a very expensive hobby considering developing and printing costs. I doubt if anyone could have afforded to take the number of photos we seem to take now with digital.

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Re: Photography, expectations, standards, originality

I like the original post.
For me, I take pictures of anything that takes my fancy, so long as it is decent and legal.
My passion is landscape.
But, and it is a big one.
I am competitive, so enter club competitions, and want to win, so sometimes I do take pics for a particular competition.
I also like the gear, and will buy stuff because I like it, not necessarily because I need it or it will help my photography. Then I will sell it, usually at a loss, to fund another piece of kit, but this time, something I do need.

I bought my first Oly camera, an OM 1, on the basis of the ads, small, lightest SLR ETC. When I picked one up, I fell for it, the ads had done their work. As it happens, it served me well for over 30 years, and I regret selling it, it was an object of beauty. (There I go again....coveting, any hope for me?).
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Re: Photography, expectations, standards, originality

It seems to me that photographic clubs vary hugely.
From what I hear some of the local clubs are all about competitions, so that no one will share tips/techniques as that might give others an advantage in the competitions. Very sad IMO.


The club I go to regularly calls itself a photographic workshop and is all about learning together. I've found that explaining basics repeatedly helps give a fuller understanding of them, and even complete beginners can ask questions that open up new approaches. At least half our members are experienced photographers so there can be some quite advanced stuff too
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