Go Back   Rangefinderforum.com > Cameras / Gear / Photography > Being a Photographer > Business / Philosophy of Photography

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."

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes

Vision?
Old 01-13-2009   #1
dazedgonebye
Registered User
 
dazedgonebye's Avatar
 
dazedgonebye is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Arizona
Age: 58
Posts: 3,927
Vision?

Do you go out with a "vision" of the image you want to create, or do you find something you feel is interesting/beautiful and make an image out of what you see?

This feels like an important question to me.

I know that most of the time, I just head out to some locale I think will have something to offer and look for an image to be made. Very seldom do I have a vision in my head and go out looking for ways to put it on film.

I like this shot.



It's the pier in Newport Beach, Ca. I'd been there once before, and when I found out I would be going back, I packed my pinhole and a disposable tripod so I could make this shot. It turned out much as I thought it would.
So, was this shot the result of an image I wanted to create or a thing I found that I wanted to make an image of?

Does that distinction make any sense?
Should I have been drinking heavily before posing such a question?
Do I need to adjust my meds and get over myself?
__________________
Steve

"And I know now that the cure for my childhood was not to be looked after, as I once believed; it was to look after someone else." ~Philip Norman

Photography Blog
Flickr
Twitter
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-13-2009   #2
le vrai rdu
Registered User
 
le vrai rdu's Avatar
 
le vrai rdu is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: paris
Age: 34
Posts: 1,205
i don' have vision, I feel it is ok to shoot, or interesting, I wouldn't say beautiful, beauty as nothing to do with photography imho (but, as I am french, and because I speak french, I may not put the same meaning as an english native speaker behind the word "beauty" )
__________________
SITE WEB|| flickr||my book : North Sea ||blog
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-13-2009   #3
Keith
On leave from Gallifrey
 
Keith's Avatar
 
Keith is offline
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 18,596
I seem to need some type of vision to produce anything worthwhile. Occasions where I just randomly shoot seldom produce anything I really like.
__________________
---------------------------
flickr
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-13-2009   #4
tmfabian
I met a man once...
 
tmfabian's Avatar
 
tmfabian is offline
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Naples, FL
Posts: 667
i avoid having a "vision" when i go out to shoot. Having a vision can inhibit your creativity by locking your brain into what you think the shot should look like and causing you to overlook what the moment truly has to offer.

But, this is just my point of view and my way of working.

edit: in my use of "vision" i was thinking about having a vision of how a photograph should look, whenever I start a project i start it with only the concept of what the project is about, but when I go to photograph it i keep my mind empty of a "vision" of how the images should look and simply allow them to unveil themselves.
__________________
Thomas M. Fabian II
Webshizzle

Last edited by tmfabian : 01-13-2009 at 15:23.
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-13-2009   #5
dazedgonebye
Registered User
 
dazedgonebye's Avatar
 
dazedgonebye is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Arizona
Age: 58
Posts: 3,927
One of the things that prompted me to ask was a thread on another forum. It asks people what projects they have planned for the new year.
A project is an interesting concept to me. It would mean, I think, having an idea of what you wanted to say with your photos and a plan on how to say it.
I envy that perspective, but I'm not sure I can play that way.
__________________
Steve

"And I know now that the cure for my childhood was not to be looked after, as I once believed; it was to look after someone else." ~Philip Norman

Photography Blog
Flickr
Twitter
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-13-2009   #6
le vrai rdu
Registered User
 
le vrai rdu's Avatar
 
le vrai rdu is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: paris
Age: 34
Posts: 1,205
I had a project last summer with my training period in a shipyard

It was a very interesting way to shoot

And I didn't really shot out of that shipyard, I was a bit tiring ( I shop maybe 70 roll for 13 weeks )

I would like to have a new project, maybe making some little "roman photo" like duane michal on this site : madeinphoto.fr
__________________
SITE WEB|| flickr||my book : North Sea ||blog
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-13-2009   #7
Michael Da Re
Registered User
 
Michael Da Re is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 240
I think a lot depends on your style of photography. All aspects of style such as portrait, landscape, macro etc.. takes vision. Because you know what your looking for before you find it. Street photography on the other hand is being creative as the moment arises. I think that's one of the reasons for it's popularity.
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-13-2009   #8
le vrai rdu
Registered User
 
le vrai rdu's Avatar
 
le vrai rdu is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: paris
Age: 34
Posts: 1,205
interesting

he speaks quickly but the accent is OK great

I think I should take note on a little book
__________________
SITE WEB|| flickr||my book : North Sea ||blog
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-13-2009   #9
mcgrattan
-
 
mcgrattan is offline
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 287
I usually don't have either a project in mind or a 'vision' for individual images in advance. I do far too much aimless shooting.

However, when I do shoot in a more considered way, the results are usually among my favourite shots. Imposing arbitrary technical limitations or trying to pursue a particular stylistic quirk or look also work for me. Any kind of imposed structure works.

After a Rodchenko exhibition I saw, for example, I spent an afternoon shooting in a 'constructivist' style. The experience was fun, informative and the imposition of some stylistic and technical limitation on what I was doing made for better pictures.
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-13-2009   #10
dazedgonebye
Registered User
 
dazedgonebye's Avatar
 
dazedgonebye is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Arizona
Age: 58
Posts: 3,927
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pitxu View Post
Steve,

Having projects is a great way to keep things in perspective and to give motivation.
Have a listen to this audio clip from Stephen Schaub at Figital Revolution.

The Photographic Project. (link)
What he says certainly makes sense.
Any business or project needs a statement of purpose or a well defined goal.

Ironic to my problems in this area...my degree is in Project Management!
__________________
Steve

"And I know now that the cure for my childhood was not to be looked after, as I once believed; it was to look after someone else." ~Philip Norman

Photography Blog
Flickr
Twitter
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-13-2009   #11
shadowfox
Darkroom printing lives
 
shadowfox's Avatar
 
shadowfox is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 8,801
In my understanding, a vision here is an ideal image in our mind.

So I think all of us (photographers) have a collection of "visions", even for the spontaneous styles like street. Otherwise, how do we know when to trigger the shutter?

Most of the time, the resulting image that is recorded is a mix between one of those visions and the opportunity (subject, settings, light, etc.) we are faced with.

If the mix leaned towards the vision, then it's a realization of the said vision.

If not, it's either a reject, or an inspiration for a new vision.

Another thought, a vision may be born from editing also.
__________________
Have a good light,
Will


  Reply With Quote

Old 01-13-2009   #12
Bob Michaels
nobody special
 
Bob Michaels's Avatar
 
Bob Michaels is offline
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Apopka FL (USA)
Age: 75
Posts: 3,757
I am always working on a specific photo project, which may take 3 months to several years, or trying to hone in on what the next project will be. Without that focus to create a cohesive body of work that tells a story, I am just shooting a bunch of random photos. And the chance of coming up with a spectacular image from random shooting is lower than the odds of winning the lottery.

I may be a bit different but I only want 20-30 really good photos a year or so. I think that nobody, I mean NOBODY, wants to see your best 100 photos from 2008. That includes your mother, best photo buddy, spouse or significant other. They only want to really see the top 12. And they want to see them telling some cohesive story.

I fought the concept of needing a cohesive body of work for several years. It was just fun to go out and photograph whatever seemed to come up. But I finally had to admit that the really significant photographers worked on a consistent theme. While I had no goal of public acceptance, I did want to accomplish something in my own mind with with photography.
__________________
http://www.bobmichaels.org
internet forums appear to have an abundance of anonymous midgets prancing on stilts
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-13-2009   #13
dazedgonebye
Registered User
 
dazedgonebye's Avatar
 
dazedgonebye is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Arizona
Age: 58
Posts: 3,927
Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfox View Post
In my understanding, a vision here is an ideal image in our mind.

So I think all of us (photographers) have a collection of "visions", even for the spontaneous styles like street. Otherwise, how do we know when to trigger the shutter?

Most of the time, the resulting image that is recorded is a mix between one of those visions and the opportunity (subject, settings, light, etc.) we are faced with.

If the mix leaned towards the vision, then it's a realization of the said vision.

If not, it's either a reject, or an inspiration for a new vision.

Another thought, a vision may be born from editing also.
I can't decide if you've got a great point or are just giving me the excuse I need to avoid reforming my haphazard ways.

Seriously, I get your point, but I still feel I may be missing something by not taking a more project oriented approach.
Now, if I can only come up with an idea before wandering around with a camera and waiting for inspiration to strike.
__________________
Steve

"And I know now that the cure for my childhood was not to be looked after, as I once believed; it was to look after someone else." ~Philip Norman

Photography Blog
Flickr
Twitter
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-13-2009   #14
antiquark
Derek Ross
 
antiquark's Avatar
 
antiquark is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Winnipeg
Posts: 1,477
Occasionally I have an idea of a picture I want to take. Sometimes the final photograph is good, sometimes it isn't. Usually the best pictures are scenes that I "discovered" rather than "invented". However there are successful photographers who do both.

As for projects, I find a good project is to simply document a large location, like a big park, or a long street. If the location is big enough, you'll have to return many times in different weather conditions and seasons, and the process could take months. If it's a long project you'll actually improve in your framing, composition, etc, which is a bonus.

Documentary style projects are great because you are guaranteed to succeed... if you flop artistically, at least you still have a historical document!

If you think you've reached a "new level" of artistic understanding, then you could try to capture the "essence" of a location. If you do it well, you'll have a project that succeeds in being two things: a historical document, and an artistic expression.
__________________

  Reply With Quote

Old 01-13-2009   #15
Bob Michaels
nobody special
 
Bob Michaels's Avatar
 
Bob Michaels is offline
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Apopka FL (USA)
Age: 75
Posts: 3,757
Quote:
Originally Posted by dazedgonebye View Post
Now, if I can only come up with an idea before wandering around with a camera and waiting for inspiration to strike.
I find that my "wandering around with a camera" or sometimes "just wandering around" is where most of my ideas for photo series come from. I find something that interests me and find that I am going back and working on something similar, then things begin to develop. Not all ideas pan out and most make a few turns along the way. Most series concepts begin very broad then seem to tighten up into something manageable along the way.

One example is the Daytona Beach Boardwalk. It is less than 50 miles from my house and was always a fertile ground for photo ops. I kept going back over several years. Then I decided to do a series of everyone who visited there for a six month period. I already knew there was the low budget winter visitors, then the NASCAR crowd, then the Bike Week crowd, then the Spring Break crowd, then the Black College Reunion crowd and typical summer visitors. So I ended up photographing almost every weekend for six months in an area that is 60 feet wide and 1,200 feet long plus a pier. But I would never have attempted that without wandering around there sporadically for several years earlier. Plus in my wandering around, I had concluded that year 2005 had potential for great change at the Boardwalk. It turned out that I was right.

I wandered around photographing my broadly defined community until it evolved into a series of photos of the divergent population and current socio-economic change. That series took about 18 months.

Then that series took me into photographing one minority neighborhood of about 4,000 people. I spent just over two years there. Got to really know the community. Got to know almost all the people. And most of them knew me. I think my work turned out reasonably well.

You can see examples of all those series on my website if you have any interest.

Just never feel bad about wandering around so long as you are seeking some ultimate goal. It is just the wandering around with no objective that keeps you perpetually wandering.
__________________
http://www.bobmichaels.org
internet forums appear to have an abundance of anonymous midgets prancing on stilts
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-13-2009   #16
Nh3
-
 
Nh3 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Toronto
Posts: 894
I worked on personal project photographing Tibetan protests during summer Olympics. After a while not only i got bored of the whole thing, i became cynical and conflicted about the project and ended up canning the whole thing.

The lesson that I learned was quite simple: Let the project come to you, and don't go around searching for a project.

As far as vision is concerned I have none.
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-13-2009   #17
mh2000
Registered User
 
mh2000's Avatar
 
mh2000 is offline
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,145
I tend to go out looking for beautiful/interesting things/details that when photographed or incorporated into a photograph broaden or strengthen my personal vision.
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-13-2009   #18
dmr
Registered Abuser
 
dmr's Avatar
 
dmr is offline
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Somewhere in Middle America
Posts: 4,521
Quote:
Originally Posted by antiquark View Post
Occasionally I have an idea of a picture I want to take. Sometimes the final photograph is good, sometimes it isn't.
This is what happens to me, I'll visualize something, go there, shoot it. Sometimes it works, often it does not.

When I come upon a scene which evokes a certain feeling I want to capture, sometimes it's indeed the money shot, but other times it's just blaaaah. Other times I just *KNOW* I have the perfect shot when I snap, but I find technical errors or stuff like lens/film limitations. I'll occasionally go back and reshoot. Sometimes more than once.

I have a handful of scenes in my mind which I haven't been able to find in real life, even though I keep looking for them, if this makes any sense ...
__________________
My (NEW) Gallery
My Blog
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-13-2009   #19
Sparrow
Registered User
 
Sparrow's Avatar
 
Sparrow is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Perfidious Albion
Age: 67
Posts: 12,451
I don’t have visions myself but often steal….errr, reinterpret, other peoples. Don't know if that counts or not
__________________
Regards Stewart

Stewart McBride

RIP 2015



You’re only young once, but one can always be immature.

flickr stuff
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-14-2009   #20
oftheherd
Registered User
 
oftheherd's Avatar
 
oftheherd is offline
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 7,905
I used to go to what I thought would be interesting places and shoot what I found there. I didn't have a vision per se. I have done that too though; an idea of what I wanted before I got there. Some times that has worked, some times not. I still tend to just look where I am for what I think is interesting.
__________________
My Gallery
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-14-2009   #21
kipkeston
Registered User
 
kipkeston's Avatar
 
kipkeston is offline
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 584
cue the winogrand quotes. i'm with him on that one
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-14-2009   #22
John Lawrence
Registered User
 
John Lawrence is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,847
I don't have a vision or any preconceived ideas of what I am going to photograph when I head out. I prefer to keep things loose and see what happens. However, in the studio the opposite applies.
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-14-2009   #23
dave lackey
Registered User
 
dave lackey's Avatar
 
dave lackey is offline
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Atlanta, Ga
Posts: 8,902
Hmmm....

I have tried to visualize before and, sometimes, with landscapes, still life, etc. it works. Now, with changing scenes like people, sports, fleeting opportunities when the sunlight is "just so"...etc...well, my best images have come to me.

Just being receptive works the best for me. Even in studio with my grandkids, I have gotten the best images from their spontaneity.

I think it is still good to visualize in a general way, but, being receptive to the moment works best for me.
__________________


Dave
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-14-2009   #24
benlees
Registered User
 
benlees is offline
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Edmonton, AB
Age: 47
Posts: 1,510
My favorites of the past year were taken with no real cohesive intent. Just get out there and see what I find. Getting out the door is by far the most important thing. I might have a location in mind with regard to lighting/time of day but that is about it. I'll take a picture of just about anything! Things can look very different as a photograph which is what makes it interesting for me.
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-14-2009   #25
Dave Wilkinson
Registered User
 
Dave Wilkinson's Avatar
 
Dave Wilkinson is offline
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Hull, Yorkshire, U.K
Posts: 2,281
Quote:
Originally Posted by benlees View Post
My favorites of the past year were taken with no real cohesive intent. Just get out there and see what I find. Getting out the door is by far the most important thing. I might have a location in mind with regard to lighting/time of day but that is about it. I'll take a picture of just about anything! Things can look very different as a photograph which is what makes it interesting for me.
My sentiments to, sometimes I just enjoy the walk, here's three from this morning.....not much - as pictures, but just a record of my home town.
Cheers, Dave
Attached Images
File Type: jpg mra1.jpg (55.2 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg mra2.jpg (42.9 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg mra3.jpg (51.0 KB, 2 views)
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-14-2009   #26
shadowfox
Darkroom printing lives
 
shadowfox's Avatar
 
shadowfox is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 8,801
Quote:
Originally Posted by dave lackey View Post
Hmmm....

I have tried to visualize before and, sometimes, with landscapes, still life, etc. it works. Now, with changing scenes like people, sports, fleeting opportunities when the sunlight is "just so"...etc...well, my best images have come to me.

Just being receptive works the best for me. Even in studio with my grandkids, I have gotten the best images from their spontaneity.

I think it is still good to visualize in a general way, but, being receptive to the moment works best for me.
To me, visualization is *different* than vision. And they are easily confused with each other.

I tend to not visualize any of my shots, I am not good at that, others may be.

But I have a lot of visions, example: On a foggy morning, I have a vision on what kind of pictures I want to make, otherwise, I won't even be motivated to get out of bed.

But when I get to a place that I can take such pictures, I put that vision in the back of my mind and let the surrounding presents the opportunity that may come close to that vision (or not).

It's different than trying to visualize a particular shot moments before it's recorded on film.
__________________
Have a good light,
Will


  Reply With Quote

Old 01-14-2009   #27
Bob Michaels
nobody special
 
Bob Michaels's Avatar
 
Bob Michaels is offline
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Apopka FL (USA)
Age: 75
Posts: 3,757
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nh3 View Post
I worked on personal project photographing Tibetan protests during summer Olympics. After a while not only i got bored of the whole thing, i became cynical and conflicted about the project and ended up canning the whole thing.

The lesson that I learned was quite simple: Let the project come to you, and don't go around searching for a project.
I learned the same lesson in early 2008 when I convinced a short line RR to give me unlimited access so I could do a photo project there. I had never ridden in a locomotive but it seemed so enticing.

After 8 days of riding around in the cab, photographing people running the train, throwing switches, hooking up / unhooking cars, doing maintenance, working in the office, I just came to a dead end. I tried every avenue I could think of to make it an interesting series but struck out. It was not that the RR did not try. They even let me run the train and do anything I wanted. But it just went no where. And finally I admitted that and moved on.
__________________
http://www.bobmichaels.org
internet forums appear to have an abundance of anonymous midgets prancing on stilts
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-15-2009   #28
phc
Paul Hardy Carter
 
phc's Avatar
 
phc is offline
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Monte Pego, Spain
Posts: 44
For me projects are not planned, in the sense that I'll think one day: "I know - I'll do a project on hippopotami in domestic settings" or something. I find that, when I'm looking over contact sheets, certain themes become obvious, and a project develops from there.

These two:


Fiestas Patronales, Segorbe, Spain. September 2007


Puerto de Javea, Spain. August 2007.

are part of a project that is nearing completion. The next step is to edit down from over a thousand negs to about 40 to go into a book.

Cheers, Paul.
__________________
RFFers discount on prints! Go to the Client Area of my site, add any pictures you like to your cart, and enter the discount code R F F 5 7 (without the gaps) for a 20% discount.
theconstanteye.com <<< My new book!
paulhardycarter.com <<< My new blog lives here.
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-19-2009   #29
aniMal
Registered User
 
aniMal is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 394
I spent many years mostly working without projects. I had some going, and learnt a lot from that. But what worked best for me was either traveling and taking in new places, or spending lots of time getting into the right ´space´at home. It always took some time before I got into that space when traveling as well, but in general I feel that new sights tend to make it easier. I guess my style for those years was what is today called street...

Quote:
The lesson that I learned was quite simple: Let the project come to you, and don't go around searching for a project.
This is what has happened to me for the past year or so, I have gotten this project that I just have to do. It is totally different from what I have been pursuing for years, and if I had not had a few years break as a photographer I would most probably never have gotten into it! Why? Because I would have considered it kitsch and for amateurs...

Last winter we travelled to Aragon in Spain, and I had the opportunity to photograph lots of ruins - whole villages with tons of atmosphere... While being there, I realized that I had to come back - probably for several times. Last october I was finally able to do it, and found that the nerve of the project had gotten much stronger inside of me in the meantime...

So here am I, researching flickr and other sources on the web for ruins... What I look for is ruins with a history, a story why they were abandoned. My latest realization is that i simply HAS to do Chernobyl...

I think that both approaches are right - having a project and also just being intuitive. My street-style project that was a real obsession for years is still active, although it is not my main priority now.

I have an intention to eventually sort all of my best work into a handful of projects, and then define them more stringently. It would probably help me focus - It would be relatively easy to call them to mind when shooting...
__________________
Some pictures at flickr:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-19-2009   #30
jbh
Registered User
 
jbh is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 31
If I'm shooting an ad, for example, I go out with a vision plus shoot those unexpected moments; more often than not the unexpected moments are the shots to use.

If I'm shooting for myself I shoot whatever strikes me at the moment, but I've observed over time that those few themes coagulate into bodies of work. Incoherent maybe, but still work that has inherent relationships.

This is of course distinct from a documentary project, which by nature (imho) should be at least loosely planned.
  Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:08.


vBulletin skin developed by: eXtremepixels
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

All content on this site is Copyright Protected and owned by its respective owner. You may link to content on this site but you may not reproduce any of it in whole or part without written consent from its owner.