Photography, HUUH!!, What is it Good For?

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Politics, Religion, Art, Photography, etc.

A discussion thread on the Flickr site, in a group established around a particular camera, includes several personal statements as well as some open explorations on that the member who posted it calls a photographic “Paradigm Shift”. In his last two paragraphs, working professional photographer, and Nikon reviewer, Gerard Prins, makes a couple of personal statements:

Purpose lies not in choosing Nikon over Canon (or v.v.), but it does in purposely & knowingly choosing…(my edit).. purposely breaking the rules and purposely pursuing a personal style or point of view.
Purpose combined with talent creates Art, and creating Art is reserved – thank heavens – to those who purposely dedicate their lives to doing so.

Let’s all thank digital for largely eliminating the technical barriers that once separated amateur from pro, allowing amateurs to raise the bar a notch or two and forcing all of us to – once again – concentrate on what photography is all about: talent, beauty & art.

That’s a point of view, alright –one that’s echoed a Lot in so many places. The last segment of that last sentence is one that finally moved me to respond, though, as it seeks to assert “what photography is all about”.
That merely raises the question mark, in me, but it’s the question that I believe each of us answers in some way or other, unique to “who” each of us is, at any one point in time, and to what our personal vision inspires us to attempt or to stand for.
Like politics and religion, “What is photography about?”, is at Best, the question that we each can use to true ourselves up to a vision.. or at Worst it is the question that can be used to “justify” or argue (same difference) a point of view ( to be “right” about it, in a limiting way).
At it’s most neutral, and most profound, though, photography is about
1) whatever the person who practices it is about
2) whatever the viewer perceives it to be about
3) whatever any of us can invent it to be about from here forward.
4) ___________________________________________________

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Wayne Upchurch

For years, as a “professional ogler” (a newspaper staff photographer), I simultaneously explored photography as craft/process/medium in its own right. The photojournalism work –credentials and mindset– got me into (and out of) places I would certainly never have had access to on my own. I was also practicing the discipline of getting a picture where there didn’t appear to be one and getting it Finished in a timely manner, to professional standards. I also learned to create imminently readable images despite poor reproduction in a small size. Though it took me several years to get this, the value of making photos that illustrated something already laid out in the story was suddenly Not Enough, and I began to make assignment pictures that added dimensions not already in the writing, or better Yet, raised questions so that the reader would go to the story for more answers. Having gained more than dreamt of, when starting out, I left to pursue my own personal photography, mounting exhibits along the way. I also worked with commercial photographer friends doing studio product photography, and making headshots for actors. Later, I also helmed a Public Radio “spacemusic” program, and acted in a Wilmington, NC drama company. I put the cameras away for a few years, to finish shedding the habit of self-limiting my identity as just “Photographer”, and can now pursue personal pleasure and expression through the freedom that digital imaging offers. Sharing photos on Flickr and participating locally in meetups and outings has renewed a passion for making new images and for sharing the process with others. For some time, I’ve found myself writing detailed comments on other people’s photos, as well as thoughts and pet ideas about photography, in general.

One thought on “Photography, HUUH!!, What is it Good For?”

  1. Good points: “The most personal expression of the most personal emotion”
    The point I was trying to make: “talent, beauty and art” as opposed to pixel-peeping, what is technically “right”, and other dead-end dogmas widely discussed on the net.

    GRTZ.,
    GP

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