civilized ku # 3634 ~ photography is not dead

(embiggenable) • iPhone

(embiggenable) • iPhone

DON'T TAKE PICTURES is a site I visited on regular basis. The site's ABOUT statement Is to my liking:

...The title, Don’t Take Pictures, references the language of modern photography. Over the years, the term “taking pictures” has begun to be replaced with “making photographs.” The change signifies a distinction between the widespread use of cameras in the modern world and the more systematic, thoughtful process of creating photographic art. At Don’t Take Pictures, we strive to celebrate the creativity involved with the making of photographs.

In particular, I appreciate the fact that most of the featured pictures-those that appear it a variety of regular catagories-are made without a heavy layering of art sauce. That is, the pictures are primarily made without the application of visual effects.

In a video in today's entry, filmmaker Wim Wenders stated, “I do believe that everybody’s a photographer. We’re all taking billions of pictures, so photography is more alive than ever, and at the same time, it’s more dead than ever.

In the process of explaining his position-re:Mobile phones have killed photography-Wenders stated:

"...The troublee with iPhone pictures is nobody sees them. Even the people who take them don't look at them any more and they certainly don't make prints.:

IMo, that idea is simply not accurate-if not out-right wrong on so many points-if for other reason that I have made multiple-100s of prints / 10 photo books (and counting) of my iPhone pictures-either from online POD sources or on my wide-format printer. And, I am certain that I am not alone in that undertaking inasmuch as there are quite a number of online sites that are devoted to the making of POD mobile phone pictures and photo books. In most cases, prints can be ordered / photo books can be made directly from a mobile device.

Are the majority of mobile phone picture makers making prints / photo books? Probably not. On the other hand, it's quite probable more prints are being made in today's digital world than in the the analog picture making era. I believe that to be the case inasmuch as the current estimate of pictures uploaded every day (somebody is seeing them) is 1.8 billion (657 billion a year).

Another statistic claims that, of those 657 billion pictures, 36 billion prints are made a year. That is a hell of a lot of prints. And, as to Wenders' "nobody sees them" (pictures) idea, a hell of a lot more than 36 billion people are looking at them.

On a personal basis, it's also worth noting that my blog is curently averaging 3,800+ page views a month. Every page on this blog has at least 1 picture. That number of picture views is most likely more-in just one month-than the number of views my pictures have had in all of my many exhibitions over the years.

Civilized ku # 3632-33 ~ day to day

All pictures made near Boston, Mass. (embiggenable) • iPhone

While I thought time would drag during this hockey showcase event-only 1 game a day-in fact there have been a number of activities such as college tours which have made time fly. Consequently, I haven't had an opportunity to post. That and the fact that I haven't experienced much which has pricked my eye and sensibilities.

Nevertheless, there have been a few life-in-a-residence-suite with 2 teenage hockey players which have caught my eye. nothing grand and glorious, just everday moments.

FYI, one of the pluses of being near the border of New Hampshire is access to interstate highway rest stop liquor stores. The stores are huge with a great selection of bourbon and single malt scotch and the prices are a good bit below where I live.

civilized ku # 3627-29 ~ don't forget to remember to forget

1957 Cadillac Eldorado Seville ~ at the Essex Ferry / Lake Champlain (embiggenable) • iPhone

Westport Yacht Club ~ Westport, NY / Lake Champlain (embiggenable) • iPhone

Westport Yacht Club ~ Westport, NY / Lake Champlain (embiggenable) • iPhone

All pictures made last evening in the Adirondack PARK

Without trying to put too fine a point on the word (but doing it nevertheless), in yesterday's entry on TOP, How Do You Become a Photographer?, Mike Johnston wrote about "work[ing] out your style." While my featured comment on that entry did not (deliberately) address the idea of style, I would like to address the idea that, iM(considered)o, style and vision are very different concepts.

Style is a signature look that commercial photographers adopt in order to stand out from the crowd. Most often the style is developed as means to market oneself. And, if a photographer has a style which appeals to clients-ad agncies and their clients)-then he/she elevates themselves to a position in the marketplace that takes them out of the bid-for-assignment fray ... if an agency creative / art director sells a photographer's style to a client, then he/she will have to submit a job estimate but not a bid against other competing bids. The job is theirs from the start. I know this for a fact inasmuch as that's the horse I rode across the finish line during my 30 year career in comercial photography.

True vision is a signature look that is developed / recognized without any commercial / marketing / business intent. It's emergence is entirely individual personhood driven inasmuch as true vision is the outward manifestation of an (seemingly) innate / preternatural manner of looking and seeing the world. In the photography world, it is independent of rules, conventions and theories. I believe it is accurate to write that true vision is felt rather than thought. That true vision is there-internal, within the confines of an individual's pysche-for the artist to find and recognize. CAVEAT: not everyone is or can be an artist.

And, as I wrote in my TOP featured comment, I truly believe that the only way to find one's true vision, is to start making pictures, lots of picture, with absolutely no intent in mind. In other words, an almost mindless pursuit of point and shoot picture making .... point a picture making device at whatever-independent of what you have been told is suitable to be photographed-strikes your fancy, pricks your eye or artistic sensibilities and then shoot it.

In the act of shooting pictures, banish all thoughts of rules and photography conventions. Just trip the shutter (real or virtual) when your framing and the arrngement of the referent(s) within the frame look "right" to your eye. Don't think about it. Just do it.

Then make a boat load of proof prints and just look at them. Don't think about them. Just try to be open-minded in order to recognize those pictures which feel "right" to your eye and sensibilities. Not perfectly right but close enough to "speak" to your innate vision. Therein is the seed of your vision.

At that point, it is time to think. To think in order to recognize what it is in those prints that pricks your eye and sensibilities. Once you can identify, however loosely, those characteristics-visual + emotional + intellectual-you, most likely, will never have to think about again.

civilized ku # 3625-26 ~ real is always better

Adirondack Snap Shot Project on exhibit   ~ Adirondack Lakes Central for the Arts - Blue Mt. Lake, NY

Adirondack Snap Shot Project on exhibit ~ Adirondack Lakes Central for the Arts - Blue Mt. Lake, NY

(embiggenable) • iPhone

The Adirondack Snap Shot Project exhibit is up and running. Over 225 pictures are on exhibit - 112 on the walls, and other 80-100 in cigar / jewelry boxes and 5 album-like photo books with 33 pictures each (also on a pedestal). The Opening Reception, with an artist (me) talk, is this Saturday (5:30-6pm) at the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts in Blue Mt. Lake, NY. Now, on to old business...

Re: Tyler's issues with his ability to read my blog. Now that the above mentioned project work is completed, I have had the time to delve into the settings for my Squarespace template where I found options for typefaces. So, henceforth, this blog will have a serif tyeface that is BLACK. I hope this change helps Tyler (and anyone else you might have had similar issues). However, I am making no promises, re: the number of words, with the new typeface/settings, I use on this blog. :>)

Re: Tyler's comment, re: you view your work and those of others in the same way? According to you, you seem to prefer (by far) to view prints on the wall, or in books. Where does that leave us, I wonder.

I am uncertain about the first you view your work and those of others in the same way? of that comment. However, assuming he means do I look at the work of others in the same manner as described in that entry, the answer would be yes. I look at all pictures, first and foremost, for the feeling-visual (energy wise), emotional (beyond the much sought after "wow" factor), intellectual (thought provoking insome manner)-they impart. Depicted referents are, for the most part, almost irrelevant - snap shots excepted. Or, as John Szarkowki wrote about work he liked:

... form and subject are defined siultaneously...indeed they are probably the same thing. Or, if they are different, one might say that a photographer's subject is not its starting point but its destination.

The second part of the question seems to me to question how I stand on his pictures inasmuch as I have only ever viewed them as digital representations rather than as my preference for analog, aka: printed, objects.

I like Tyler's picture very much. I visit his site whenever there is a new entry. Dispite the fact that that is how I have viewed / experienced his pictures, the thing I value most, that which pricks my eye and sensibilities, in a picture-visual energy and the form (relationship of lines, shapes, color, tones) in which it is presented-is readily apparent in both the digital and analog viewing mode.

That written, and iMo, I prefer viewing prints simply because a tangible / tactile object, to and for my eye and sensibilities, conveys a much more sensuous feeling than a device screen ever will.

civilized ku # 3624 ~ out the door

wood fruit ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

Just a quick entry 'cause I'm on my way out the door to hang my Adirondack Snap Shot Project ~ Mementos, Memories, Memory solo exhibition work - a 2 hour ride to the Central Adirondacks. I'll have a picture or 2 of the installation in my next entry.

civilized ku # 3621-22 ~ how to read a photograph

doorway ~ E4th Street / NYC (embiggenable) • iPhone

There are a number of books out there which have the title of How to Read a Photograph or a variation thereof. I have considered writing such a book but I don't think there would be many buyers for a 1 page book. It would be a 1 page book because all I have to say/write on the topic is ....

STOP. Don't even try to read a photograph. It's not a novel / newspaper / periodical / note to self or any other thing which depends on the use of words to be understood. Rather, it is a thing to be looked at. End of story.

My wife has a good friend who could be said to have-iMo, quite accurately-a very limited artistic sensibility. I would be surprised, no...make that stunned, to learn that, in her 50+ years on the planet, she had even once visited an art museum. However, on the plus side, she did buy one of my pictures to hang in her house.

That written, iMo, she has a near perfect manner in which she views a picture or, at least, my pictures. In a nutshell, when viewing one of my pictures, it goes something like this .... "Why did you take a picture of that?", followed by, "I don't know why, but I like it." And, on some occasions, she sums it all up by saying, "You're so weird."

Her viewing experience is exactly the manner in which I hope my pictures are viewed.

In other words, my desire is that a viewer not get too hung up on the specificity of the depicted referent(s) inasmuch as I picture things, not for what they are, but for how I feel when I see them. In a very real sense, the depicted referent(s) in my pictures is "just" a signifier-a sign's physical form (such as a sound, printed word, or image) as distinct from its meaning-which is used to convey a feeling, conscious or not, about my eye and sensibilities. Or, in other words, how I feel, at times, when I see things around me.

And, that is what my wife's friend "gets" when she looks at some of my pictures .... a feeling which she can't consciously explain but which I think is her subconscious artistic sensibilities trying to get out.

I believe that when she says, "I like it.", she is saying, on conscious level, that she likes the picture. However, I also believe that she is liking, on subconscious level, the feeling(s) she is experiencing while looking at the picture.

When I look at a picture, I don't often specifically care about what is depicted (other than when viewing family, friends, travel, et al "snapshots"). What I am "looking" for is a feeling a good picture can convey / incite independent of what is depicted. A feeling that is more than the wow-like sensationalism found in pictures of dramatic / color saturated referents et al. A feeling that is much more "quiet" and intimate than that. A feeling that I am feeling what the picture maker was feeling at the moment the picture was made.

Or, simply put, look and feel, no reading necessary.

civilized ku # 3619-20 ~ a certain genius

parking lot booth ~ WIldwood, NJ (embiggenable) • iPhone

hotel hall~ Rayham, Mass. (embiggenable) • iPhone

In a recent post I wrote about a book of polaroid pictures, LEGACY of LIGHT, that I recently acquired. In the preface of that book, Constance Sullivan, the then (c.1987) Publications and Exhibitions Director of Polaroid Corporation, wrote (in part):

The very hardest thing about instant photography as a serious mode is probably how easy it is. Where so much effect comes effortlessly, the narrow range of choice that remains must be brought to white heat. Like abstraction in painting and "free verse" in poetry, instant photography is so simple that only those with a certain genius can really master it.

In this entry, it is my intent to apply much of that excerpt to iPhone picture making. But first, a few words about the statement itself....

re: "how easy it is" / "so simple". iMo, making pictures has been "easy" ever since the advent of roll film. As KODAK advertised at that time, You push the button, we do the rest. I would also offer an opinion that the making of "serious" pictures has always been "easy" (with the exception of those who print with arcane / legacy materials) inasmuch as those with a "certain genius" are "just" following their innate vision (their way of seeing) and making pictures of what they "see".

re: "narrow range of choice", Again iMo and assuming she is referring to the limited camera setting options on Polaroid cameras, she is correct. However, at the time she is also not correct inasmuch as, it seems to me, that most of the Polaroid pictures in the book were made with "real" cameras (medium format roll film and 4x5/8x10 view cameras) using professional Polaroid products-aka: sheet films-with Polaroid film backs. In that case, all of the normal camera choices were available.

However, she is correct, re: once any Polaroid film is processed there are no processing choices. At that point, what you see is what you get. There were a few exceptions such as the manipulation SX-70 film emulsion using pointed objects or, as some professional Polaroid film users (myself included) did, making emulsion transfer prints or simiar techniques.

All of that written, on to my point, re: adapting Sullivan's statement to iPhone (or similar)....

Most certainly, making pictures with the iPhone is very simple/easy. There are only a few camera controls, primarily selecting focus and adjusting exposure. Some camera apps give the user many "real" camera-like controls, but I rarely use them because I like to keep it simple. Much like the original KODAK cameras, I press (touch) the button and, in this case, the machine does the rest.

Unlike Polaroid picture making, the digital files created on the iPhone have some rather serious processing options with the use of one of many good processing apps. I use Snapseed to do "normal" processing on my files. I do not use any of the Effects options. Many do.

In fact, in my perusal of online photo sites-sites like Instagram which is used by a host of "serious" picture makers-it seems that the majority of iPhone (or similar) users use lots of effects apps to create their pictures. Whether this is so due to lack of a real "certain genius" or the use of effects as a integral part of their vision OR, more likely, merely as means of getting "likes" is hard to determine (for me).

That written, re: the use of an iPhone or "real" camera (no matter the lack or abudance of choices), to my eye and sensibilities, the best pictures are those made by picture makers with a "certain genius" which enables them to see things and picture and present them in a manner which transcends, with a sense of visual erotics (not sexual-read Susan Sontag's Against Interpretation essay), the literal specificity of a their depicted referent(s).

Civilized ku # 3618 ~ don’t make promises you can’t keep

entrance to hockey locker rooms ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

A few weeks back, after returning home from almost 2 months of a number of trips, the wife and I were happy that we wouldn’t be traveling again for at least a month. In fact we promised yourselves something to that effect.

That hasn’t worked out. After an unscheduled trip to NYC last weekend for a Kinderschule graduation and helping my best friend move (to my Adirondack neighborhood), this weekend I find myself just outside of Boston with my grandson Hugo for an unscheduled hockey tournament.

I woke up Wednesday morning to find an last minute email request for Hugo to play for Team New England, a team he has planned for in the past. The request was fortuitous inasmuch as he really needed a “warm up” tournament to get his hockey legs back for his participation on Team Pittsburgh in the Hockey Night in Boston showcase tournament / event (2 weeks from now). That event is scout intensive - scouts and coaches from Junior, prep school and collage teams will be in attendance.

Next weekend, in between this weekend and the next tournament, I have to travel to the central Adirondacks to mount my solo exhibition pictures and give a talk at the opening reception. And it doesn’t stop there, there is still more way from home travel to come.