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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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who do you shoot for?
Old 01-27-2009   #1
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who do you shoot for?

like to hear from all...aside from professional photographers...

i'm sorta sick of the digital vs. film discussions...

and the which focal length is better or what aperture is best for discussions...or even what colour should i get

and cannot abide with yet another your image is plastic looking conversation...

so, instead i would like to have an honest discussion on 'who do you shoot for'?

shoot for yourself?
other photographers?
want to be discovered, make lots of money?
shoot for the internet and any critique that might ensue?

dig deep and try not to come up with what you think you are expected to say.
if you want to be an artist then say so.
if it's just for fun and screw the techies then say so.
if you love the gear and could care less about the images then say that.

i could do with some refreshingly honest discourse.

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Old 01-27-2009   #2
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For me and for you, but apparently not for my mom - she wants to see more photos OF me, photos BY me don't interest her.
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Old 01-27-2009   #3
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moms can be like that.

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Old 01-27-2009   #4
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My non paid work, I shoot for myself and for fun. But since I'm a bit narcissistic, I do enjoy sharing images with family, friends, and the internet. The critique is nice to get - I miss that part of not being a student, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't get a little thrill from the occasional bit of praise. It's fun - and that's what I need it to be.
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Old 01-27-2009   #5
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I shoot first and foremost for myself. I get a joy out of just slowing down and seeing the world around me. I also really like the feeling of accomplishment when I create something I'm really proud of. In that sense, a lot of my friends are bored with a lot of what I end up shooting, but that doesn't matter to me at all. Either I like it, in which case I've accomplished my goal, or I don't, which means I can (hopefully) learn from it and do better next time.

Of course, I'm also a huge techie. Handling a fine camera has a joy in itself entirely separate from the photo-taking process. I've recently noticed a tendency of mine to absent-mindedly cock and release the shutter on any unloaded camera sitting next to me... I'm not sure what that says about me. To that end, I also enjoy tech discussions. Sometimes it just gives me a chance to vicariously enjoy something I can't afford to fondle myself and sometimes I'll be able to take from it something to better my photography.

Finally, I also really enjoy sharing my work with others. Showing somebody a nice portrait of themselves or some other photo that really strikes them somehow gives me a nice warm feeling inside. Sharing my work with others helps to keep me focused on what I can do to produce work that others as well as myself find enjoyable.

I would love to be a fine art photographer or great photojournalist some day, but it's not a particular goal of mine. As a professional musician I know enough of the hardships and effort involved in being an artist. Photography is strictly a hobby for me; if at some point that hobby turns into a profession as music did, then I'll consider it a blessing, but if I end up an old man living alone in a darkroom, I'll be happy enough. Well, so far as photography is concerned...
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Old 01-27-2009   #6
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Yeah, I think if I was shooting for anyone but myself I would be shooting much more digital than I am now. I did some news photography in my small town (local sports, election coverage, car accidents) but for the most part I don't really pursue that stuff anymore. I have done weddings and corporate work but I don't really enjoy it.

When I am lone with a fully manual camera is when I am most at peace.
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Old 01-27-2009   #7
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It's like cooking for me:

Love the process, and the outcome, and when I myself and others like it. And I like the tools and learning how to handle them. It's important when others tell me they don't like the food for whatever reason - then it can be improved. Tastes are different and that's OK.

I don't bake sweets. I don't shoot street. I love improving my sauces and portraits.

No ambition to be a pro or spend 100% of my time doing it.

It's a welcome distraction of what I earn my living with (I love my work passionately).

Cheers,

Roland.

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Old 01-27-2009   #8
dave lackey
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Hi, Joe...

Up until recently, I made images only for myself. It did not matter who saw them or liked them. It was what I wanted to do and if it served the purpose of family documentation or artistic creation, so much the better.

Now, after 4 months without a job and no hope for the future...I have turned inward and through all of the introspection, I have now two, possibly conflicting, paths to trod:

1. Artistic
2. Commissioned work for pay

I am finding both to be difficult to break into. Coming from the engineering and academia worlds, it is hard to establish relationships within the artistic community but I am trying. The commission work for pay is difficult as well because I am starting from zero.

Ultimately, I think each will feed the other. At least I hope so.
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Old 01-27-2009   #9
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I'd like to think that I shoot for myself, but I really do enjoy feedback, a change of perspective. So in that respect, I still shoot 'for' myself, but I don't make photos to be viewed only by me.
I like to show my photographs to friends, unfortunately, none of them have much interest in photography, and normally don't offer much beyond a simple "cool." So not that much different than showing them on the internet.
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Old 01-27-2009   #10
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A few years ago, I made a conscious decision to take up some artistic or creative hobby. I'm in computers & engineering, and for the longest time my hobby was also computers & engineering. I actually considered pottery, painting, and drawing, but somehow ended up with a camera.

I think the thing I like most about photography is the physical exercise it gives me. It's a good excuse to get out of the house and go walking for a couple of hours. In the summer I get on my bike and maybe go 40km. It's amazing how far you can get.

It also makes the exercise less boring, because there's something to occupy my mind.

I like some of the pictures I take, but for me the real enjoyment is in the activity.
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Old 01-27-2009   #11
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The two that keep me the shooting the most are:

Our kids high school marching band, jazz band & symphonic band...they compete against other schools, do clinics or perform concerts throughout the school year...
Our son did this all four years and our daughter is a Junior this year with one more to go...That will make a total of 6 years of Band shooting for me...

Next would be our Church...for the last 9 years I've been shooting for them or events sponsored by them...plus by doing this one gets a lot of exposure with the people who go there...so I also shoot other events for people in our church that may or may not involve the church...

Lastly, I shoot for me...whenever I can find the time or find a subject...
I have a customer in Downtown L.A. and whenever I service their equipment I'll take some photo gear with me and if I have the time I'll walk around the city looking for stuff to shoot...(they pay for me to travel there and pay for my parking, so why not)

I would like to sign up for a photo class at the local JC just for the assignments & deadline...

With the Church and High School it's all voluntary and I supply the film...I supply the shots for the school on CD's to be used in their Yearbook and for the Band Banquet at the end of the year...
The church gets the rolls of film and they do whatever they want with the shots...I normally don't see them until they get used...

So far that's who I shoot for...
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Old 01-27-2009   #12
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I shoot for me and my family. As a "photographer" I think I have improved to "sucky" status but aspire to get a little better. As a hobby it is better for me than a SSRI prescrtiption.
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Old 01-27-2009   #13
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Good question. I shoot for me, my kids, and my friends. My friends give me honest encouragement every so often. My kids get to have photos of themselves living in the moment, the kind I wish I had of my own childhood to look back on. And me? I get the peace and creative "now" of the darkroom, and the practice of seeing light wherever I go. It's a gift to myself.
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Old 01-27-2009   #14
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Good question and one I think applies to professional photogs as well. I think if I had to make a guess I shoot for my grandkids. I don't have any yet but I want them to know what Abuelo saw as he traveled. Perhaps inspire them to know the world beyond the city they live in.
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Old 01-27-2009   #15
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The interesting thing is that I feel, to varying degrees, I've almost always shot for myself, whether it's been a paying gig or just by-me-for-me. When anyone bothers to hire me for anything these days, they do it with the understandig that, to quote a k.d. lang book title, "all you get is me."


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Old 01-27-2009   #16
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Good question!:

Ultimately, I shoot for myself, regardless of whether I'm shooting my son's basketball game or at a family gathering. For my personal work, I shoot because I have ideas, primarily about photography but also about many other things. So, I shoot to explore and resolve ideas. It's really almost like doing research—for what I don't know; and, I don't really care. I also view photography as a form of therapy. Sometimes I just have to shoot. I love shooting film, digital, point & shoot, and street, and don't understand photographers who don't like to shoot street (Roland!), and who won't come out and shoot street with the rest of his RFF buddies (ROLAND!).

When asked questions like this, I like to quote the Ms Teen US contestant (Ms South Carolina) who when during competition answered the following to the question: “Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?”:

Answer: “I personally believe… that… U.S. Americans are unable to do so… because… uh…some … people out there in our nation don’t have maps and…. uh, I believe that our, ah, education like such as… in South Africa, and, uh, the Iraq, like everywhere like…such as… and I believe that they should, uh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., or should help South Africa, it should help the Iraq and the Asian countries… so we will be able to build up our future…for our children.”

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Old 01-27-2009   #17
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I take delight in capturing people in different types of light in everyday life. That which is at once most common and normal in my experience is rich and full of potential when I have "the eyes to see". So in shooting people and things while in their everydayness, I have gained a deeper sense of gratitude for the subtleties of the people and things with which I am brought into contact.
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Old 01-27-2009   #18
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I shoot for my personal satisfaction. If someone else likes my fotos, great. I have a small camera so I can take pictures all the time with ease.

What I find amusing is that over the years my photos have actually become better.
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Old 01-27-2009   #19
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I could say that I shoot for myself, but I like to put my photos online on places like Flickr, and I like it when people see them. So I guess I shoot for others.

On the other hand, I don't take photos that I know would get the 'best response' from people, or make any intentional efforts to shoot things I know people want or like to see. I have ideas in my head about what I want, and I try to capture those concepts in photographs. The photos I have taken that I am most proud of, no one likes, and that's not a complaint or a boast - it just is what it is.

To the best of my conscious knowledge, I shoot what interests me and then inflict it on the world via sites like Flickr if I am relatively happy with it or even if I'm not but feel I should put it online anyway.

I also shoot for the future. I realize that no one gets my reasoning, which I've tried to explain in many ways on many different fora, but my photographs are more than photographs, they're breadcrumbs left for future historians and sociologists. Like Eugene Atget (no, I do not compare myself to him, just saying I emulate him in some ways), I photograph what others do not, and a lot of it. Ephemera, Americana, small towns, celebrations, people living their normal or unusual or alternative lives.

I add to my photographs information that I feel is important to give the photographs more historical significance (not now, but someday) by adding metadata in the form of Exif containing GPS geocoodinates, time/date, and tags that give some indication of what, when, who, and so on. I look at the old photos that the Library of Congress scans and puts online, and the only thing known about them is what was written on the back in scribbled hand by the photographer, if they wrote anything at all. I want to provide more.

I do not do this because I'm so great or anything like that. Anyone who is competent with a camera and diligent could do what I do, but I do it because no one else does, and I like to do it, I think it is important that it be done.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wigwam/sets/

I also find it immensely entertaining. I meet a lot of people, and I always make new friends wherever I go to take photos. I see parts of this country that I'd taken for granted or never bothered with, parts that are falling away and being left behind.

I take photos, or more properly, I take the kind of photos I take, because I am in love with America. Not in a nationalist kind of way, but in a way that fills me with immense quiet pride when I see what kind of people we Americans are, how inherently decent. I photograph small town celebrations and parades and things that don't matter; because in the end, they may be all that matters.

I am a storyteller. I don't know why, I just am. I do that with my writing, I try to do that with my photographs. I am a seanchaí, a teller of tales, a recorder of deeds, a great liar, drinker, and fighter (meaning I lie about being a great drinker and fighter), a sojourning minstrel who can't play or sing a note.

In the end, I shoot for myself, I shoot for you. I shoot for the future, assuming there is one. I shoot because I have to. I shoot because I don't know what else to do.

How's that for an answer?
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Old 01-27-2009   #20
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First off I love photography. And I would have to say that I shoot mainly for myself but I do share my work with family and friends that act interested. I also have to say that photography is the most frustrating thing I have ever done. I get to a point where I feel confident enough in myself to post some of my work (not necessarily here) and get no comments at all. Even criticism would be helpful sometimes. But to make it even more frustrating when I see people that post pictures of a door or some branches from tree and you would think that they are photographic GODS and then I don't get it anymore. It doesn't keep me from going out and shooting though. My only wish is to have one of my photos hanging somewhere in public and to have people know I took it and think I was a decent photographer.
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Old 01-27-2009   #21
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I have a strong desire for solitude and photography provides that outlet.

So, I photograph for selfish reasons, for me.
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Old 01-27-2009   #22
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Quote:
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I have a strong desire for solitude and photography provides that outlet.
Hence your posts here.
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Old 01-27-2009   #23
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Hence your posts here.
This is a very lonely place, thats why I like it.
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Old 01-27-2009   #24
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First & foremost - myself. Photography is a release for me... artistically & mentally. Although I find street photography plenty gut wrenching at times, overall photography is a way to rest my mind and free it from day to day stress. It's a time I forget deadlines, debts, etc...
Secondly - my family. Mainly for memories & keepsakes. A photograph brings about & helps us relive the emotion of a given moment in time & this is important to my wife & I.
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Old 01-28-2009   #25
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I've only been doing this photography thing for a year now and I must say it is a very enjoyable hobby. Fondling cameras is a joy, going out and about and seeing things as potential frames has really opened me up to my city- really great. I do it for myself as a creative exercise. All the 'calender' type stuff that I unfortunately have yet to stifle gets emailed to my parents! They like it very much!
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Old 01-28-2009   #26
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Myself and my friends... and technically the University newspaper, but they get 3rd or 4th choice photos because they insist on retaining all rights - no way I give them my best!
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Old 01-28-2009   #27
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Cool

The photography gods, angels and those occasional little devils. Got my first camera at age 10. My dad taught color and commercial at NY Institute of Photography in the '50s. Helped at home, late nites in the darkened apt kitchen helping do side jobs to pay the rent. Bless him it gave me the chops to work my way through Penn State. All those coeds needing pics to send home. VP PSU camera club with Mark Cohen.... Mark intro'd me to Leica and encouraged me to see, for which I am eternally grateful. Years later discovered musical instrument making and sold all the photo equipment to buy woodworking tools. Now, at 68, jumping back into the craft as a semi-retirement gift, for closing the repair end of guitar and lute making. Currently setting up the darkroom and boy is it nice to feel like I'm home again.....
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Old 01-28-2009   #28
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Considering how often my wife asks, "why on earth did you take that one?", I guess my answer to the OP is that I shoot for myself.
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Old 01-28-2009   #29
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I don't shoot for myself. Since I am my own editor and creative staff, I tell myself what to shoot, but I actually shoot for the audience. You know those real and imagined folks who will (eventually) see and appreciate (or not) my stuff and offer up some fine, concept based critique.

I am in school to learn the mechanics of the art photography business. So I hope to 'see' you all in the galleries ... soon!
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Old 01-28-2009   #30
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I shoot for the pure joy of it. Whenever I'm stressed and feeling emotionally "dry", I grab the camera, go into the countryside here in north Georgia (USA) and lose myself for hours. I selfishly hope someday to be good enough to be "discovered" and published in an actual nationally recognized magazine or locally at some fine art gallery. Until or unless that happens, what I shoot I share for the sheer delight of trying to let others experience what my feeble old eyes saw and with the hope they see some of the beauty and unique objects I've seen as a result.
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Old 01-28-2009   #31
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I photograph for enjoyment. Having a hobby is a great way to expand your world, enrich your life.
With regards to photography, curiosity at the depiction of reality when it is transformed into 2D B&W film images is fascinating.
Like a simpleton unable to figure out a simple sleight of hand trick and demanding repeated performances only to be endlessly and equally fascinated by each performance.
May be someday Iíll grow tired of this one trick pony but until then Iím the idiot with the wild eyes and the goofy smile on his face.
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Old 02-04-2009   #32
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For myself. And for Flickr
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Old 02-04-2009   #33
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And by the way, it is 'whom', not 'who'. "Whom do you shoot for?"
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Old 02-04-2009   #34
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It is indeed a good question. So good, in fact, that I don't know the answer. In the end, I suppose it's a bit of "all the above".
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Old 02-04-2009   #35
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And by the way, it is 'whom', not 'who'. "Whom do you shoot for?"
You can't begin a sentence with "whom".

"For whom do you shoot?"



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Old 02-04-2009   #36
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Quote:
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You can't begin a sentence with "whom".

"For whom do you shoot?"

You certainly can. Questions are often begun with 'whom'. The sentence below is correct:


"Whom did the grammarian assault?"
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Old 02-04-2009   #37
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"Whom did the grammarian assault?"
The OP?







...........
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Old 02-04-2009   #38
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The OP?
Better than inflicting further insults upon the English language.
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Old 02-04-2009   #39
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Old 02-04-2009   #40
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I shoot for myself. When I see a result that I like I have a desire to share it with others, and go on to take pleasure in other people seeing it, especially if they too like it, but no I only shoot for myself.
Photography is personal and the photos I take are an extension of myself; my thoughts, ideas and emotions.

That being said I need money, so if the chance ever arises (and I somehow become less socially inept) I would occasionally whore myself out and shoot a wedding or something, just to put a little something back in the bank account.
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Last edited by punkromance : 02-04-2009 at 15:38.
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