The Thing Itself

drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Jul 13, 2011
Lexington, VA
Steve
The Online Photographer cited this article by Bill Jay about the nature of the subject in photography:
I thought it was a thoughtful essay. More to the point, it made me think of the last hundred days or so when I had been shooting every day. Obviously, this kind of regiment requires looking for subjects all the time. I actually do that all the time, but I have made myself carry a camera so I can take the photograph when I see the image. I’ve realized by looking at the photographs I have created is that what interests me are the details of life and the world. The thing that sits in one place day in and day out, serving it’s role in the order of things whether it is noticed or not. Oddly enough, these details do not often include people. It is the piece of wood that supports a structure the people use. The part of a machine serving it purpose until it breaks and rusts away. Especially, the ways of plants that move through life so much more slowly than we do but still perform the dance of life. Anyway, give it read and let us know your thoughts.
 
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Sorry, doesn't appeal to me at all. Sometimes I pick up an idea, a concept or such from an essay, not this time. He addresses young photographers, maybe there's the problem. The directiveness (if that is a word) of his statements really puts me off, I don't like teachers that try to pump their concepts into my brain; I'm particular in that way, during my working life I avoided courses as much as I could and educated myself in an autodidactic fashion. But then, what do I know, I'm just a photographer who earns zilch with his work, but I am dedicated to photography and I spend a lot of time doing it, so I already know that that is important.

Yesterday I fell into a documentary on Joan Miró, a Catalan artist (painter, sculptor, poet etc.). Now that was inspiring, the freedom he claimed to do what he wanted to do, ignoring everyone that tried to push him into other directions.

I'm not good at talking about artistic concepts as you may have noticed by now. I also agree with William Eggleston that a lot of talk on photographs is pointless.
 
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tonyturley

Legend
Nov 24, 2014
Scott Depot, WV, USA
Tony
He lost me at "the principle remains: you do not become good at anything unless you do it earnestly, regularly and, yes, professionally." I have always detested elitism, and while I tried to finish reading the article, the tone had already been set for me. There are a lot of people on this forum who don't earn any form of currency for their photography, yet their work is stunning. He would have had a valid point had he simply said "you do not become good at anything unless you do it earnestly and regularly."
 

drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Jul 13, 2011
Lexington, VA
Steve
I think that “professionally” is similar to the other idea that to become good at something you must invest 10,000 hours of practice. I’ve certainly noticed that when I spend time on my photography I start to get images that please me more. I often think of myself more like Vivian Maier, doing photography for very personal reasons, looking to see the world in all its details. I think this guy’s wording was influenced by the audience of would-be photographers he was teaching. Being a teacher myself, I think I also dismissed his assertiveness about what matters. I will also tell my students what matters to me, why I think science matters, but I know that the answer to that is personal. What I say is a challenge and they will ultimately make their own decisions. I want students, not followers, and my favorite advice to them is “question everything”. In the article, I related most to the indefinable sense he gave of “where to point the camera”. Science tells us how to test a hypothesis but is mute about how to get the hypothesis in the first place. That creative act is not explained by science itself. Photography is similar. The technical side matters but it will never tell you where to point the camera.
 
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drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Jul 13, 2011
Lexington, VA
Steve
That's the problem with the word "professional". To me working professionally means getting paid for what you do, but others take it to have a different meaning.
This makes me think of a rant I saw recently. When Apple released the "Air Pod Pro" earbuds, this guy wrote a very funny piece about how the word "pro" was officially meaningless.
 
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