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Business / Philosophy of Photography Taking pics is one thing, but understanding why we take them, what they mean, what they are best used for, how they effect our reality -- all of these and more are important issues of the Philosophy of Photography. One of the best authors on the subject is Susan Sontag in her book "On Photography."

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why is it so important to us?
Old 06-10-2015   #1
back alley
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why is it so important to us?

i'm talking about the average amateur now...

we look at new gear with great lust in our hearts...
we check out each other's new images with great gusto...
we agonize over each new purchase...should it be a body with better af or a lens with incredible low light ability and bokeh?

is it really art if it's digital...will film last as long as i will?
which post processing software gives better highlights, more shadow detail, crisp edges?

speaking for those of us who wont make a dime from their photography this year...what drives us so crazy about this hobby?
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Old 06-10-2015   #2
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Boredom???
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Old 06-10-2015   #3
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I have a friend who does fly fishing. Great guy. Wicked wicked intelligent and sincere. One of the very few people that, when he speaks at a meeting, the whole room would shut up and listen.
He spends all winter tying flies in his basement.
In the Spring (or Summer?), he spends $2000/week to rent a cabin (no water, no heat) way up north. By himself. Catching fish and throwing them back in the river.
"Why?" . . . . "Because that's what I enjoy doing", is what he said.
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Old 06-10-2015   #4
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Boredom???
you don't believe that now, do you?
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Old 06-10-2015   #5
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It keeps me out of the bar and is a lot less messy than a bunch of paint & brushes.
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Old 06-10-2015   #6
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Inappropriate expectations?

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Originally Posted by daveleo View Post
I have a friend who does fly fishing.
Or from the point of view of the fish -- I have a friend who does fish torture?

I think there is a moral here for photographers?
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Old 06-10-2015   #7
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Because when you see the picture you made, if it's right you get a jolt of rightness when you look at it. If it's not right, not so much.
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Old 06-10-2015   #8
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Old 06-10-2015   #9
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Just enjoy it if you do or quit if you don't.

Over analyzing is pointless and may just lead to negative thinking.
Most things that provide pleasure are somewhat silly when broken down to their individual parts.
Why even go there?
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Old 06-10-2015   #10
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As a fumbling amateur, I continue to believe that the problem with my images is the camera.
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Old 06-10-2015   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by back alley View Post
i'm talking about the average amateur now...

we look at new gear with great lust in our hearts...
we check out each other's new images with great gusto...
we agonize over each new purchase...should it be a body with better af or a lens with incredible low light ability and bokeh?

is it really art if it's digital...will film last as long as i will?
which post processing software gives better highlights, more shadow detail, crisp edges?

speaking for those of us who wont make a dime from their photography this year...what drives us so crazy about this hobby?
Your list suffices, I'd say.
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Old 06-10-2015   #12
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A distraction from the ultimate emptiness and purposeless-ness of life?


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Old 06-10-2015   #13
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Just an extension of my lifetime habit of "window shopping".
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Old 06-10-2015   #14
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I don't look at new to me gear with lust in my heart, actually..
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Old 06-10-2015   #15
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I'm actually saving. Time and money. Then I was into fishing I spend more time more money with no fish. With cameras I'm getiting pictures. Guaranteed.
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Old 06-10-2015   #16
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I do it because every time I pull a roll out of the developing tank it's like Christmas morning...I do it to satisfy this need in me to create...
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Old 06-10-2015   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daveleo View Post
"Why?" . . . . "Because that's what I enjoy doing", is what he said.
That's about as close as I can get.
Quote:
Originally Posted by burancap View Post
It keeps me out of the bar
Thankfully, it doesn't do that to me!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Then I was into fishing I spend more time more money with no fish. With cameras I'm getiting pictures. Guaranteed.
Can't argue with that! (I do like fishing, I just don't do it enough. Work and all that. It's easier to fit photography around what I do.)

...Mike
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Old 06-10-2015   #18
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I'm aching for flattery, love and admiration. I melt when somebody I respect pats me on the back. I'm a pathetic ego-tripper, please love what I do.

That said, it's mostly about the chase. About looking consciously, not the routine taking care of not treading onto turds. Almost everything else I do is on auto-pilot. Looking for a decent frame is what keeps me awake, involved, on a quest, a chase for that moment when everything falls into place : light & composition & emotional appeal.

And, it is also very much like collecting stamps or postcards.

In sum, I am chasing that photograph that will make me world-famous, adored by multitudes, with scores of buxom ladies trying to catch my eye. And I'm a perverted old stamp collector who likes to shoot pictures of people who may not be aware of that fact.

fogging perverts with obscene curiosity and illusions of fame and glory, that's what photographers really are.

Cheers
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Old 06-10-2015   #19
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Speak for yourself. That's nothing to do with me.
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Old 06-10-2015   #20
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Quote:
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Speak for yourself. That's nothing to do with me.
Do you ever laugh, Ranchu?
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Old 06-10-2015   #21
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Yes. I'm not currently amused, however. Speak for yourself, not me.
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Old 06-10-2015   #22
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I have to amend my previous post.

When I carry a camera, I concentrate on looking at what I see, finding a frame, an event, something. the motivation is the chase.

When I edit, I concentrate on weeding out the duds, and the selection, I try to make it look more like what I saw than what I saw.

On the whole, the motivation is quality. As in Zen and Motorcycle Maintenance.

And when I publish, I'm an attention whore.

Cheers
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Last edited by lukitas : 06-10-2015 at 17:21. Reason: grammar
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Old 06-10-2015   #23
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While I've gotten ok at painting walls and trim, painting anything else looks like I should have held back in kindergarten (still).

Drawing is fine with a straight edge and on a drafting table, a square for marking wood to cut, don't look for me to sketch anything intellagable.

I do it because I can edit what I do and can try and get better. Try new things and trash the stuff that didn't work the way I thought at the time I released the shutter.

Why something different, we need to do our part to help the economy get stronger.

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Old 06-10-2015   #24
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'cause it's fun to mess with new stuff ...
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Old 06-10-2015   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulfish4570 View Post
'cause it's fun to mess with new stuff ...
+1

Yes it is

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Old 06-11-2015   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulfish4570 View Post
'cause it's fun to mess with new stuff ...
+2

Yep, that, and the fact that you can buy it.. Getting the most out of it or developing one's talents is another matter though..
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Old 06-11-2015   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darthfeeble View Post
As a fumbling amateur, I continue to believe that the problem with my images is the camera.
I did a great deal of agonizing about the same issue. As did you, I finally came to the same conclusion. (But it wasn't easy)

Actually, I just enjoy photography, when I can.
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Old 06-11-2015   #28
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I shoot because it's an incredibly satisfying feeling knowing that I'm creating something from ordinary events and seeing my work improve over time... or, at least I think it is.
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Old 06-11-2015   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by back alley View Post
i'm talking about the average amateur now...

we look at new gear with great lust in our hearts...
we check out each other's new images with great gusto...
we agonize over each new purchase...should it be a body with better af or a lens with incredible low light ability and bokeh?

is it really art if it's digital...will film last as long as i will?
which post processing software gives better highlights, more shadow detail, crisp edges?

speaking for those of us who wont make a dime from their photography this year...what drives us so crazy about this hobby?
Marketing/advertising is a social science that studies how to manipulate human behavior. By now they are very good at this.
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Old 06-11-2015   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willie_901 View Post
Marketing/advertising is a social science that studies how to manipulate human behavior. By now they are very good at this.
So, I don't have to feel bad about wanting to buy a new camera all the time anymore? Now, that's a relief!
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Old 06-11-2015   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankS View Post
A distraction from the ultimate emptiness and purposeless-ness of life?


There is something to this. A hobby can be a denial, a defense mechanism. Denial of death.

But it is also a way of seeing and participating in the world. One has to look more carefully when photographing. We are more likely to remember what we have seen.
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Old 06-11-2015   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by back alley View Post
i'm talking about the average amateur now...

we look at new gear with great lust in our hearts...
we check out each other's new images with great gusto...
we agonize over each new purchase...should it be a body with better af or a lens with incredible low light ability and bokeh?
We do? That is a very broad brush you have there. I'm having a lot of cheap fun with plywood and foam core pinhole cameras, homemade 4X5 box cameras with plus diopter lenses, all with photo paper uses for negatives.
As an aside, I would think quite a few of the members here simply do not have the disposable income to pursue avidly new photographic equipment. I certainly do not. (That is not a complaint, just a notation)
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Old 06-11-2015   #33
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one doesn't need lots of money to look at gear and images...or bokeh

yes, it is a broad brush but i think it fits for many here...lots of intense discussions about the things i listed...
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Old 06-11-2015   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lukitas View Post
I'm aching for flattery, love and admiration. I melt when somebody I respect pats me on the back. I'm a pathetic ego-tripper, please love what I do.

That said, it's mostly about the chase. About looking consciously, not the routine taking care of not treading onto turds. Almost everything else I do is on auto-pilot. Looking for a decent frame is what keeps me awake, involved, on a quest, a chase for that moment when everything falls into place : light & composition & emotional appeal.

And, it is also very much like collecting stamps or postcards.

In sum, I am chasing that photograph that will make me world-famous, adored by multitudes, with scores of buxom ladies trying to catch my eye. And I'm a perverted old stamp collector who likes to shoot pictures of people who may not be aware of that fact.

fogging perverts with obscene curiosity and illusions of fame and glory, that's what photographers really are.

Cheers
Love this. :-)

I do photography because I enjoy finding ways to remember what has affected me and sharing those moments. Making prints, producing books and videos, telling stories ... these are things that give my life some of its meaning and reward me with great satisfaction.

I enjoy cameras because they are fascinating devices, clever machines, with a rich history of people and ideas in their development. That's a study unto itself and somewhat separate from photography.

G
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Old 06-11-2015   #35
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Extreme boredom.
Unhappy lives.
Jealousy.
Ineffective reality checks.
Lack of sex.
Lack of drive in general.
I guess my therapist isn't adhering to any confidentiality standards. How do you know him, anyway?

Yeah. It's this stuff.

I also have the ridiculous notion that great photographs are somehow IN the particular camera or lens. I look at so much photography every day, and i save a lot of images. When i view them, it's almost as if something in my head convinces me that if i had that particular lens, i could create a similarly fantastic image. But, what's left out of the equation is that i basically sit in my apartment all day, every day, and don't experience the bits of life that actually lead to photographically compelling moments.
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Old 06-11-2015   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulfish4570 View Post
'cause it's fun to mess with new stuff ...
EXACTLY, paulfish. I love playing with new gear and old gear. I just like variety.
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Old 06-11-2015   #37
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Photography keeps me active both physically and mentally (I walk miles with a camera and whilst I have the camera in hand I find it helps a lot to sharpen my observation and engagement with my surroundings).

There’s also the fact that I like using mechanical cameras and film. In the past I had access to a darkroom so I did all my own black and white developing and enlargement; these days my films are sent off to be developed and scanned.

For me, the whole process from taking the picture to the final print was an engaging and satisfying process, both physically and intellectually. These days the computer route is a poor but necessary substitute given my circumstances.

Finally, to boil it all down, there’s Winogrand’s statement: "I photograph to see what things look like photographed". I like that.

Apart from this most people I know couldn’t give two hoots about my photography.
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Old 06-11-2015   #38
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Extreme boredom.
Unhappy lives.
Jealousy.
Ineffective reality checks.
Lack of sex.
Lack of drive in general.
Honest answer. The history of art is an archive of human suffering. Nobody satisfied or happy has ever made anything good.
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Old 06-11-2015   #39
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Photography keeps me active both physically and mentally (I walk miles with a camera and whilst I have the camera in hand I find it helps a lot to sharpen my observation and engagement with my surroundings).

There’s also the fact that I like using mechanical cameras and film. In the past I had access to a darkroom so I did all my own black and white developing and enlargement; these days my films are sent off to be developed and scanned.

For me, the whole process from taking the picture to the final print was an engaging and satisfying process, both physically and intellectually. These days the computer route is a poor but necessary substitute given my circumstances.

Finally, to boil it all down, there’s Winogrand’s statement: "I photograph to see what things look like photographed". I like that.

Apart from this most people I know couldn’t give two hoots about my photography.
+1

When I was working..photography and gear was a way for me to relieve the stress of my job. Now that I am retired, I tend to take a lot of hikes and walks. I find having a camera w/ me..makes me look at things in a different light...my days w/ an enlarger are done, but the digital path whether film or digital raw file to ink jet print is what I do today.

I shoot pictures for fun..
Gary
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Old 06-11-2015   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by back alley View Post
one doesn't need lots of money to look at gear and images...or bokeh

yes, it is a broad brush but i think it fits for many here...lots of intense discussions about the things i listed...
On a daily basis I look at gear...and once or twice a year I might buy something...this year I've bought one lens and one enlarger easel...in total under $100
Looking at gear helps me learn about gear...I learn what different lenses do and how they record images...I look for images that these lenses created and while looking at these images I see the many different ways others shoot...win-win...
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