Thread: Pants?
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Old 13th February 2008
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Zuiko Zuiko is offline
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Re: Pants?

Originally Posted by Hiding_Pup View Post
Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Zuiko. I think it's a great cat shot regardless of whether the end-result was intended or not! Perhaps photography is like alchemy in that respect... Personally, I think lucky accidents are equally valid. Robert Capa didn't intend the lab to mess up the processing of his iconic pictures of Omaha Beach but that accident surely adds to rather than detracts from his shots:

I started participating in online photography forums about three years ago now, originally to seek advice on switching from film to digital. I've gotten a lot of help over the years and made a lot of new friends, too, but I do find the distinct lack of overlap between the types of image that garner praise in photography forums and the kinds of image that capture the attention (and wallets) of galleries, curators and fine art buyers.

I doubt, for example, that the work of one of my favourite contemporary photographers, Esko Mannikko, would do particularly well on the forum circuit:

But, yet, this guy's good enough to have been nominated for the incredibly prestigious Deutsche Borse Photography Prize this year.

And, while there's often talk about dreams of becoming professional and taking family portraits or wedding photos for a living but I've never heard anyone on a forum say that they'd like to make their money by being taken up by a gallery and selling limited editions of their prints for thousands at a time.

Can anyone shed any light at all on what's going on? why does there seem to be such an apparent split between the world of photography enthusiasts and the world of fine art photographers?

I think that the answer is simple, but rather sad. The truth is that the majority of enthusiasts, consciously or not, tend to keep well within their comfort zone. Novices have a level they aspire to reach, which invariably is determined by what the amateur magazines and online forums chose to promote as examples of excellence. Some go on to reach that level and then......stagnate!

I'm no exception. I specialise in landscapes and have done so for many years, during which time I've developed a formular for producing results that are generally well received. Indeed I've been fortunate enough to enjoy a fair measure of success in being published. But since reaching that level some years ago, how have I progressed? The answer is very little. Sure, my style is becoming more polished and proficient all the time. But I'm not, in essence, doing anything different now to what I was doing ten years ago. I like it in my comfort zone.

As regards fine art, I'm not sure I even understand what it is. When did a photography magazine aimed at enthusiasts last publish a feature on fine art?
The truth is, in all probability I wouldn't recognise fine art if it marched up to me and slapped my face.

But maybe if I took a few risks and occasionally moved out of my zone I might learn new techniques, develope a new style, progress my skills, become more creative and in time move up a level or two. Maybe then I too could be regarded as a fine art photographer, selling my work to private buyers for thousands rather than to magazines for hundreds.

Maybe it is encumbent on us all, if we really wish to improve as photographers, to seek out unfamiliar styles of photography, including fine art, and make the effort to at least understand what the author was trying to achieve before condeming from a position of ignorance. If we still don't like it, fine, we all have different tastes and personal preferences. But at least we may have learnt something and experienced a little of the world outside our comfort zone. Over time this new awareness and ability to see beyond our own creative boundarys might distill into our consciousness and make us better photographers.
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