going to work

i probably am going to have to neglect you for a bit…perhaps not much posting in the next two weeks…yes, i am off to shoot "youth culture" in seoul,  starting today in earnest…i suppose i will be shooting mostly in the afternoons and evenings, because i suspect "youth culture" is not a sunrise shoot…

but, i could be wrong….this is an industrious, hard working, on the case, high tech culture…the Koreans do not mess around…they really do "just do it"…in any case, whether i can post some mornings remains to be seen….if i can, i will…

now another thing to think about….as far as i can see,  the men and women in the  "youth culture" in seoul are all photographers….i mean all….i have never had my own picture taken so much in my life!!!  maybe i should just edit all of the pictures that they are taking all the time!!!  that would indeed be seriously interesting….but,  that leaves me with a question for you…

since everyone world wide seems to be  taking pictures all the time with mini digis and cell phones etc etc…and photo sharing websites are collectively  taking in a million pictures or so per day, where does that leave serious photographers??  do we get "lost" ??  it is raining pictures out there…so how do we stay high and dry??

i have been thinking about all of this for a long time and have my own answer and perspective….but, as usual, you go first…

Seoul_1_copy_2

73 Responses to “going to work”


  • I’ve also been thinking about this quite a bit lately, David. I think it’s entirely possible to get “lost” in the millions of images available nowadays, but also feel that those who are doing something special, those who have talent, and those with something to say will rise above most of the stuff out there. It’s more difficult nowadays, I imagine, and maybe necessary to take things to even more extreme lengths, but I really do feel that good work speaks for itself and eventually gains the recognition it deserves.

    Austin

  • Welcome to the country where cameras filled in the street and taking pictures a routine part of daily life, David.

    As far as serious photographers lost in the sea of images in the digital world, it probably unlikely to happen for sometime to come because as Austin said good images does stand out on its own.

    But having said that, it does take a lot more effort than it used to be to get the voice out.

  • The simple fact that most people sing a little bit during cooking or shaving doesn’t mean that everyone is good, interesting, talented and professional singer ;-)
    If you look at sites like flickroad, it becomes clear that 99,99 percent of them is boring and of very very poor quality (I don’t mean technical quality). And I have never seen any well-shot story there…

  • Good morning David…

    I think it’s getting harder to earn on pictures – because everybody shoot, and it’s not so important if you have good pictures… more important is that you send them fast (who is faster is a winner!), – but it’s only NEWS photography hopefully

    the other kind of photography – documentary, reportage (or however we will call it).. it’s different story :-) … here more important is a talent and hard work than beeing just “fast sender” :-)
    and i belive that if i will have good plan what to do, i will work hard, i will be sure it makes sense it will work :-) and no need to think that i am only one from milions photographers on the world…

    I wanted to ask also about war photographers .. you are good friend of Nachtway… don’t you think he is the last “serious” war photographer?
    Time to time i am looking at pictures from wars and i started to think that everybody who have camera and are brave enought can go and shoot such “event”… it seams to be “event” not war anymore
    before it wasn’t like that – Capa, Griffis and only few other photographers… now is so easy to go to shoot during a war

    litlebit different story.. but – don’t you think people imitate each other?… last few years i see more and more photographers shooting a’la Pellegrin, a’la D’Aghata – it seems to be fancy… most of the pictures from WPP are similar… focus on the second plan, hands in the corners of frame, high contrast, blured and a lot of photoshop…

    ps. i will be also away – 3 weeks, i am going to turkey to my love and I will work a lot :-)

  • Photography like music is mass-produced 4 mass -consumption.
    However; their is only one Beatles or only one Ray Charles !! It’s people like this that defy gravity. The best anything competes with no one.
    They are if you will trail blazers… pioneers of the arts. All of the
    people that i really admire & respect stand alone in their chosen
    field. Great anything is timeless always. A Picasso is just as relevant
    today as when it was originally conceived. Gifts are not always
    recognized.

  • Yeah, it is raining images out there. I’ve been thinking about the same for a while. All while feeling a little lost… But the I think: have we not seen this before? The Brownie, the Instamatic, the Lomo, the Polaroid…

    It also might very well be that this is the high tide that precedes the inevitable waning… or this deluge of photos might actually continue to take place and we’ll have to deal with this new reality of mass availability of creative means and its consequences. This is the typical “long tail” phenomenon (from Chris Anderson’s book by the same title): a lot of people just shooting away whatever, and a *much* smaller group of seriously passionate individuals studying, and striving to learn the craft and do the best they can with it.

    Anyway, I really don’t know whether this influx is here to stay or not but honestly don’t care. It’s all good from my POV. I can go online and find DAH’s blog where I can interact with you and this cool group of people… I can see more images in a day (for free) than I could have in years in the mid 90’s. I don’t know, I just think that all this image availability, the seeing and studying and idea flow is a very powerful collective experience and tool that will encourage progress through emulation. I think we’re all much better off in the end that closing ourselves in our offices/studios/darkrooms and work in isolation.

    Also, my zen readings teach me to just relax and accept what’s going to be. What else can one person do, but try and do their best they can?

    Cheers,

    Giancarlo

  • yes : no one can exist in a vacuum.

  • yes : no one can exist in a vacuum.

  • It seems to me that in our fast-paced world nobody wants to miss a single moment, but getting photographs is not the most important thing. For me it’s the act of photographing, it’s enlightening, therapeutic and satisfying, because the very process forces to connect with the world…

    best fm the alps

  • TO ARIE.

    IF YOU ARE READING THIS PLEASE EMAIL ME AND GIVE ME AN ALTERNATIVE E ADDRESS. I HAVE TRIED TO EMAIL YOU A FEW TIMES BUT MY MESSAGES KEEP GETTING RETURNED.

    MARIE

  • I was reintroduced to photography few years ago with a digital point-and-shoot camera. It awed strangers of what it did while I was strolling the streets and taking pictures then. Now everyone has one and new images are produces in every millisecond and flow into social network websites like whirlpool. Taking picture is now easier than writing.

    Conceptually, photo media professionals express their ideas through the visions. Without the thoughts behind them, those pictures will be swallowed into the deep.

    Technically, if pros fail to organise the huge number of digital outputs, they will drown in their own sea of junk. Assets management is crucial.

    Technology changes the world, indeed, by giving us more options, too many options. Convenience always comes with a two-edged sword. Digital junk is one of them.

  • I was reintroduced to photography few years ago with a digital point-and-shoot camera. It awed strangers of what it did while I was strolling the streets and taking pictures then. Now everyone has one and new images are produces in every millisecond and flow into social network websites like whirlpool. Taking picture is now easier than writing.

    Conceptually, photo media professionals express their ideas through the visions. Without the thoughts behind them, those pictures will be swallowed into the deep.

    Technically, if pros fail to organise the huge number of digital outputs, they will drown in their own sea of junk. Assets management is crucial.

    Technology changes the world, indeed, by giving us more options, too many options. Convenience always comes with a two-edged sword. Digital junk is one of them.

  • I was reintroduced to photography few years ago with a digital point-and-shoot camera. It awed strangers of what it did while I was strolling the streets and taking pictures then. Now everyone has one and new images are produces in every millisecond and flow into social network websites like whirlpool. Taking picture is now easier than writing.

    Conceptually, photo media professionals express their ideas through the visions. Without the thoughts behind them, those pictures will be swallowed into the deep.

    Technically, if pros fail to organise the huge number of digital outputs, they will drown in their own sea of junk. Assets management is crucial.

    Technology changes the world, indeed, by giving us more options, too many options. Convenience always comes with a two-edged sword. Digital junk is one of them.

  • I was reintroduced to photography few years ago with a digital point-and-shoot camera. It awed strangers of what it did while I was strolling the streets and taking pictures then. Now everyone has one and new images are produces in every millisecond and flow into social network websites like whirlpool. Taking picture is now easier than writing.

    Conceptually, photo media professionals express their ideas through the visions. Without the thoughts behind them, those pictures will be swallowed into the deep.

    Technically, if pros fail to organise the huge number of digital outputs, they will drown in their own sea of junk. Assets management is crucial.

    Technology changes the world, indeed, by giving us more options, too many options. Convenience always comes with a two-edged sword. Digital junk is one of them.

  • I was reintroduced to photography few years ago with a digital point-and-shoot camera. It awed strangers of what it did while I was strolling the streets and taking pictures then. Now everyone has one and new images are produces in every millisecond and flow into social network websites like whirlpool. Taking picture is now easier than writing.

    Conceptually, photo media professionals express their ideas through the visions. Without the thoughts behind them, those pictures will be swallowed into the deep.

    Technically, if pros fail to organise the huge number of digital outputs, they will drown in their own sea of junk. Assets management is crucial.

    Technology changes the world, indeed, by giving us more options, too many options. Convenience always comes with a two-edged sword. Digital junk is one of them.

  • I think that most documentary photography in the future will not be produced by professional photographers but by the pople who are ‘in’ with the subject, who have access to whatever they are documenting. Digital photography made it easier for people to learn the art and raised the bar for professionals.

  • I think the “snappers” have a place in this world (for news photography for example) but they won’t be shooting the beautiful, memorable images you shoot on a regular basis.

    Some people use the camera as a means of documenting something and then there are the artist …

  • We all have had keyboards for a while. We all have pencils, paper and know how to write for an even longer time. It doesn’t make all of us poets. I think I read something like this a while ago, and I think it was precisely here. :)

    On the other hand photography has seized to be as exclusive as it used to be. If you wanted to start experimenting with photography you needed to invest a considerable amount of money. I believe now the potential for good to photographers to show up has greatly increased simply because it is much more accessible.

  • david…good question as usual…i agree that talented photograpghers cannot be found at every corners…

    BUT, the impact of the democratization of this medium can be felt (i really believe this) when we see people looking at a picture: because a photograph is not so rare anaymore, we are not as sensible as our parents and grand parents were. Our attention span (maybe because of the impact of TV) is very limited…in front of a sad picture produced for example by war photogs.

    That is a reason why I think that HCB left the medium: too much of a thing kills it… he said also that everibody with a camera is a photographer…

    On the other end, the democratization of photography empowers each and every human being to explore his/her suroundings and express what they feel….

  • I think that a new approach to life is out there changing everything.Photography, music, facebook, my space, reality shows, digital cameras…have you seen “actors” lately?…everything is about documenting some kind of “reality”,….everybody’s life seems to be the last trend…do these people want serious photographers…or serious painters…? Now anybody does a film or a documentary where no production values are considered…the “reality” category gives permission for that…the tecnology gives permission for that….I go to galleries to see the work of emmerging photographers and painters and sometimes I really don’t get it…I read, and read but I still don’t see sometimes how that thing is hanging on the wall of a gallery…In my job I have to stay young, appreciate those new trends…but it’s becoming a struggle for me to differentiate between mediocrity and new trends on art….

    Maybe photography is not art anymore for a lot of people…or art (for them is) not anymore what I think it should be…

  • Everybody has a chance to shoot now. But it’s quite odd that in a way you would expect the million monkeys theorem to work out with cameras as well, and it simply doesn’t happen. For example, in facebook you have millions of pictures of people partying and getting drunk here in Cardiff. I’ve looked through many of them… they are shot from inside… but even so rarely I would have wanted to shoot one. I shoot lots of nightlife, but somehow knowing how to shoot gives you a completely different viewpoint on what things have to look like. Photography is not about cameras or about shooting something. It’s a little bit like that quote… “computer science is as much about computers as astronomy is about telescopes”. In flickr I just started a group loosely based on Weegee (hah, I have free time sometimes) and I thought that after a few searches I would discover lots of people shooting interesting b&w flash shots or just flashes on the street at night, but they happen to be surprisingly scarce and most of the interesting shots were by people I already knew (but of whose flash pictures I was unaware).

    If flickr and facebook reflect the general trend of how all those millions of cameras are used, I must say that photographers and more serious amateurs are safe.

  • Cameras are not quite as ubiquitous as it might seem, and access to the internet is far from universal. There are plenty of places around the globe where you won’t see a single camera or an internet cafe. Digital photography and flickr accounts are, in global terms, a middle class phenomenon. Yes, the world might seem to be awash in photos on your computer screen, but in large parts of Africa, South America, and many of the former Soviet states a photograph is still a luxury and prized keepsake.

  • I agree with Ivan. I believe that the true “art” in documentary photography is not just the composition and exposure of the image, but the ability to truly connect with the subject.
    And with the proliferation of cameras in society it is like photography has secret agents inside some of the most interesting places and people groups who have the ability to document in a way that an outside photographer never could.
    An example would be someone like Hrad Kuzyk, the “Junk Camera Soldier”, who was able to document the life of a soldier in Iraq in an amazing way because he was a soldier in Iraq.
    Or what Robert Frank did with “Tulsa”.
    It is going to make things tougher for each of us as individual photographers, but as a field, documentary photography is going to grow in incredible ways.

    Ben Rasmussen

  • David, I’ve seen a parallel between the proliferation of digital images and the high-throughput screening technologies in drug development. There was a general belief that screening the human genome and thousands of potential drugs would result in a huge increase in the number of new safe, effective drugs. We were supposed to see all major diseases cured, imminently.

    In fact the opposite happened: the high-generation technologies merely created a larger number of drugs that are unsafe and costly failures.

    I think the same thing has happened in photography: we’re seeing an explosion of images, the vast majority of which are mediocre at best, at least to people who have no direct connection to the photographer or subject. So I think the ability to make compelling photographs is still the result of innate talent plus acquired skill.

  • I have been thinking about this allot as well. Where will I fit in, in the future? Where do I fit in now? What about when we are shooting video for stills? etc, etc, it all seems to add to more questioning really but what I believe is that photography will become what writing is today, in that everyone (educated people anyhow) can write but only few are foolish enough to try and make a career out of it and even fewer actually are recognized at being really good at it. Photography is a common language after all I suppose…showing someone a photo is much like the non-verbal communication between two people or cultures who do not share the same language.

  • I see the popularity of photography as a good thing. So many people become interested in making images, whether it’s with their cell phone or maybe a small point and shoot on vacation and then perhaps they get hooked like all of us. If they gain an interest in studying photography due to this, great. Whether they do or not I think the “average person” as photographer now has a greater appreciation of the art of photography (as done by the great ones) because of their own experience with taking pictures.

    I study dance. I am not one of the “great ones” but I certainly appreciate them because I understand what it takes to do what they do. Same thing with the average person doing photography.

  • David:

    Last night I was introduced to one of the very few letters that Sergio Larrain has written in his life about his concerns with photography. You probably now of who I´m talking about.
    The content of the letter made all very clear, specially when everyone now has the potential to become a daily photographer with there cellphones.
    Photography seen as something achievable of high artistic value will still hold on because it is in its on nature a personal journey where you deal with your on concerns and fears, taking the world as subject, just to show your soul. Of course aestetics and technical issues should be mastered in order to make that vision possible and powerful. I doubt there is any personal search at all in those millions of pics captured with cellphones and loaded to flickr.
    For the ones who have seen Sergio Larrain portfolio of Valparaiso, he actually does’nt photograph Valparaiso, or the architectural evidence of the city. He rather photographs his own memory, loaded with childhood issues, fears, etc. Then he constructs a city from within, very different from the real Valparaiso. Could you do that with a cellphone? Of course as long as there is an honest search four your own memory and life concerns.

    Regards
    Jorge

  • Jorge Prat could you please post the above mentioned letter by
    Sergio Larrain as i think it’s relevant with our topic. Wonderful
    insights that you shared.

  • Jorge Prat could you please post the above mentioned letter by
    Sergio Larrain as i think it’s relevant with our topic. Wonderful
    insights that you shared.

  • This IS the BIG question isn’t it? I’m no prognosticator but for what it’s worth my thoughts …

    TRANSITIONS

    Part A: Does proliferation of images and shooters make it more difficult to be seen?

    Yes but I have to agree with others that outstanding images – ones that provide a real connection … evoke an emotion … bear witness well – and outstanding photographers are both still relatively rare and will always have a place “in the market.” They will rise to top, although likely more through new emerging markets, or at least in conjunction with them … change is hard, inevitable and exciting.

    Part B: Does proliferation of images and shooters make it more difficult to sell images, land assignments, and feed your body as well as your soul?

    Yes absolutely, especially since there are many outlets that will settle for “good” and there are many good but not great photographers who will work for free … AND the marketplace is in transition with new emerging outlets paying little … BUT for the special and the “strong” (to use your term David) who explore new ways to communicate beyond print, just as they explore new ways to “see” through their images, will rise to the top if their work is outstanding … and their marketing skills honed. There is huge potential out there somewhere in future unseen but one must constantly be riding out in front, staying current and flexible, thinking differently, ready to quickly take a tangent, grab an opportunity, a risk perhaps while staying true to yourself … but not combined with video, please not video … (see previous – “change is hard” ;-{)> )

    I “was” third generation newspaper, on both sides. My father was a “newspaperman” to the core spending his entire career with one outlet – from obits to editor – but even he saw “the end,” or at least the rapid decline of print media, coming years back. I remember my mother, a librarian who saw the same changes approaching, saying she never thought my father would admit that …

    Ah well, if times get too hard during the “transition” we can always go back to what my grandfather did during the depression to keep his newspaper and his family afloat … take chickens in lieu of payment. They don’t pay the mortgage but at least you can eat.

    Part C: The good news …

    Never has there been a time when there were so many photographic enthusiasts, many of whom appreciate great work that much more having tried to walk in those shoes, myself included … never has there been a time when it was so easy to have a worldwide audience for your vision … never has there been a time when acceptance and appreciation can so rapidly catch up with innovation and fresh vision in this age of accelerated change … always have the times of transition provided the greatest opportunity for the talented, the smart and the lucky … and finally, while many can capture one good or even great shot, few can take us there by weaving a story together … convey a feeling derived from the whole … subtle, beyond words … like your Cuba. For me, this is the highest expression, the art, the rest are just pretty pictures.

    I think there are wonderful possibilities ahead for the strong, and lots of fun for the rest of us ;-{)>

    Forgive me for the long post, especially if I’m just stating the obvious to you all here …

    Tom

  • hallo david…

    hallo all here. well good question david… but in my opinion… in all the world all the person have a cel phone whit a camera in . an all the person make a lot of photos all tha days…. but I think that the real and best photographers is the person that know how do it whit feelings whit the heart in the camera, and also the realy photographer all the time is seeing and do it whit better perspectives than the others persons….

    the world is full of photos and photographers… but is only some few photographers that do it whit feelings

    irving

  • I’m sorry I can not reproduce the letter for copy right issues. Unfortunately Sergio Larrain has taken long ago a self exile from photography, and he does’nt give interviews, or anything related to photography, including exhibitions (he is now a Yoga teacher). He would not allow the publication of any personal letter in any kind of media.
    Just like Salinger I guess.
    Of course I can give you some more insights of the letter if you want (by email).

    Regards
    Jorge

  • Jorge Prat- Great; I would appreciate any further insights into this
    private individuals life. My e-mail is r.libertypictures@gmail.com.

    all the best; robert

  • Jorge Prat- Great; I would appreciate any further insights into this
    private individuals life. My e-mail is r.libertypictures@gmail.com.

    all the best; robert

  • I think we are all pretty serious.
    At the moment I dont accept $ for photography, I have in the past, but not now. I take pictures because thats what I like to do. If I dont feel like it I dont shoot, and then I guess the question becomes for me ” am I a serious photographer”.
    What is a serious photographer. As I said, I think we are all pretty serious, but how do we define “Serious photographer”. Its a tough one.
    I think as far as shooting, I am always seeing new work, from people that i dont know, and its always fascinating, your neighbors shoe box under the bed, I like that stuff too. but I know what influences me, and from that I form what I think is the correct methodology. Maybe its complex, maybe not.
    Right now I am broke, I make no $ from photography, I do shit jobs for barely any money, but I feel liberated w/ my camera. I shoot when I please and I go were I please, God that sounds pretty selfish, but for me its just about following my heart, and gut feeling.

  • It’s great. More people shooting generates more interest in quality images shot by professionals.

    Also, it pushes us to learn more…perhaps to learn audio and video in order to create multimedia pieces…

  • Robert Angell,

    If we’re talking about what a “serious photographer” is, let me share my personal definition: an individual who makes the time and effort commitment to study learn the craft, history, and language of photography; seeks to find a personal and distinctive “voice” and to pursue to develop and grow as a practitioner of photography as well as a human being through that quest.

    – Giancarlo

  • When you look at all these individuals taking photos you see a huge difference in a hobby shooter and one who lives shooting.

    For one, they are afraid of getting close enough. When I watch people taking photos of their vacations here in Maui I can tell you exactly what their photo is going to show. A huge expanse of area with the subject way small.

    When I ask someone to take a photo with my camera of me and a friend for instance, they start backing up. I tell them come closer and maybe they edge forward one foot. Looking at the results you see clearly why most casual shooters don’t really compete with those that are serious. Composition is the key to photography and most do not get the black dog theory.

    (Black dog theory: Harvey when critiquing a photo will say “If this photo had a black dog walking into the frame right here it would be perfect.”)

    The other indication to this trend are the comments people make to me when they see me shooting with my camera and they are doing their thing with their point and shoot. They say they know they are not getting as good a shot as me but like taking pictures.

    Others say they never do anything with them except download to their computer and maybe order 4×5. My friend came over the other day and asked me to help her download her photos. She had almost 1200 jpegs from as far back as one year ago. She takes photos but only when both her memory cards were full did she think to do anything with them.

    Just as said above, singing in the shower, cooking in your own kitchen, cutting your own bangs does not make you good enough to cut a record, open a restaurant or hang your hair cutting sign out. Also, a big camera does not make you a good photographer. That is another thing I notice–obvious amateur shooters with high end Canons, etc. Go on Photo.com and look at what is coming out of those cameras and the answer becomes more obvious.

    Lee

  • Hi Giancarlo
    I think its a term that warrents scrutiny. Did you hear about
    The Tate Gallery in London, a few months ago had a flickr show. I never saw the work, but the point is there were thousands and thousands of submissions, only 40 or so were selected. From what I gather there were many cellphone shots of critical moments.
    Think of all those submissions, those people must take there work seriously? and so must The Tate, and then to feature at such a heavy gallery, cellphone photography? what does that say to you? The technical side is becoming less important? Its not the camera? I dont know, I dont have the answers…

  • If you can’t beat em, join em…

    A friend of mine a couple of years ago put down his cameras and began making (moving image) documentaries. He said at the time that “video is more important as a medium for our times”

    it’s difficult to disagree. for those of us who remain photo-junkies, the retrospective and specialized methods, the negative, the print, the tangible object of photo as ‘art’ is what remains.

    film is alchemy, a chemical reaction of light and time. that is what makes it special. you can’t delete that…

  • Thought I should pop a link to this here:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/afishcalledishiguro/1153466754/

    If you have time, this weekend, it’d be great to meet, maybe wander around and shoot. I’ll try to give you a call later.

    Gareth.
    gjelley@gmail.com

  • Robert A.

    It certainly does warrant scrutiny. No doubts. I don’t have the answers either. But it’s my personal belief that there’s a profound difference between being able to make a submission because you got a lot of kudos on Flickr and you feel great about your work (and hey, the Tate has an exhibition open to the public!) and serious, protracted over time, passion and commitment.

    I’m just not sure how many of the people that submitted their work to the Tate would will commit time, money, emotional energy, thought, scrutiny, self-investigation, study, etc. to photography. I see these types of exhibits more as sociological phenomena that institution like the Tate might be interested in exploring than the search for a new new talent only. What is the likelyhood that if only 100 people would have particiaped the same 40 would have been selected? (Assuming of course those 40 were really committed and not just sending their submission for the hell of it… :) )

    In the 60’s every kid with a garage had at some point a band. Did that prevent the Pink Floyd to become great? I personally don’t think so. It’s a noise-to-signal ratio problem, really. And those who think they have a “signal” to broadcast can only persist. There’s no other choice in my POV. If it’s not meant to be so be it, one can only hope at least the journey will be memorable!

    Cheers!

    – Giancarlo

  • And of course I meant: “Did that prevent the Pink Floyd *from becoming* great?”!

    Duh!

  • “… singing in the shower, cooking in your own kitchen, cutting your own bangs does not make you good enough to cut a record, open a restaurant or hang your hair cutting sign out …”

    Yes, that’s true if you add the word “necessarily,” but at the same time the best food I ever had was in the kitchen of a woman who had never cooked professionally … she just cooked.

  • Tom,

    I bet she loved cooking… To stress the point, if necessary, I’ve eaten in enough restaurants run by pro chefs where the food sucked…

    I guess that’s what passion enables.

    Giancarlo

  • davidalanharvey-could you please e-mail me or post your e-mail
    address so that i can ask a ? or 2 regarding camera equipment. As
    i need to buy a new camera…also for some reason unknown to me
    almost everytime i make a post it makes 2 posts. Not only on this forum…Does anyone have any ideas as to why ? i apologize to everyone here having to see multiple postings of the same subject.
    this is embarasing//please help..

  • I think it’s all about evolution.
    Do you remember the end of dinosaurs era? Strange animals with so huge horns they can not raise it? And their died, because they not were fast anymore.
    Surviving only numerous little mammal.
    That is with every part of human life.
    Beethoven. He must have amazing knowledge and talent to create his music, now everybody can do music, and be great it’s mean be in big music company.
    that this world is…
    now we are in moment where many things changes value, because something what was difficult is very simple and usual now. On earth lives six billion people, and everybody can do what he want. Like we are.
    So, why can not be 5,5 billion photographers on earth?
    I think it’s more important to search own peace and life path than count on appreciate of our work.
    We will disappear in crowd anyhow, earlier or later.

    Aga,

    I was angry for digital system, because many my favorite photographers changed their style, on worse often. Not this color and everything is flat. But this is young system and we should give more time. I agree that almost everything looks similar, but this is price of cheep digital photography. and why Photoshop? For not to be like pellegrin for example. Every digital images looks the same from one camera. In traditional photography we have many things for our own way to develop images. And I think raw digital images looks ugly. Especially b&w.
    But I don’t like photoshop, usually.

    Martin

  • This is an interesting perspective Martin. I totally agree about photoshop. I ordered a new laptop and guess what? I have to upgrade to CS3 now due to the Intel chip somehow or other. My work with Photoshop is simply in taking RAW files to Tif and using it for some level changes.

    One thing I have been experiencing with digital and maybe someone recognizes this. Digital photos tend to have a dull look about them and levels in Photoshop is necessary in order to get rid of it. It is almost like a film of something. Any ideas on this?

  • he said also that everibody with a camera is a photographer…
    ——————————-

    Implying nobody is anymore, in a way. I think in the end, the business of photos and (the act of) photography are quite apart from each other.
    I believe that most people like to put a name (if only to purchase it) behind a song , a music, a painting,a book of course, etc… Not so much in photography. Not to the same extent, by far. Save afficionados of the medium itself.

    people see a picture and it becomes for ex. “the Afghan girl”, but how many can put the name of the photographer behind?

    It’s about on the scope of remembering that cool little restaurant on the corner of so and so, sorry I don’t remember the name, but you can’t miss it.

    Gee, photograpers are in many ways as anonymous as the artists and craftmen who built and designed Angkor, the carvers who chiseled these Buddhist sculptures that speak for the esthetic and values of a whole epoch. The individual in the service of the community, the divine, the King, whatever. he is solely a medium.

    I see M. Parr’s images, HCB’s, David’s Cuba if I may add, and yes, they are a lot more epochial than truly individualistic (as in ego, and the invisibility in being an efficient photographer is often commented, truly. When visible, antagonistic, it’s a technique as in W Klein maybe).

    In retrospect and ultimately, the personality, the individuality becomes another means to pass the epochial message.

    Maye that’s the greatness of the medium.

    Sorry, David, what was the question again?

  • David,
    just one comment about your book Cuba…the pictures are wonderful but I also have to say that the prologue about Cuba is probably the best writing I’ve seen about Cuba’s history….(and I’m cuban)…It’s short but tell the whole story the way it was. it’s a very interesting piece of information and I always use it when someone ask me about what happened before Fidel came to power…it’s very accurate.

    saludos.

  • “We all have had keyboards for a while. We all have pencils, paper and know how to write for an even longer time. It doesn’t make all of us poets.” Tomé, you’ve said it all.
    “The best food I ever had was in the kitchen of a woman who had never cooked professionally … she just cooked.” Tom, maybe you’re right (about the food) but you forget an important thing: that woman IS a professional. Even if she’d never been paid for that, she knows all the tricks for making an wonderful meal, like my mother and my grandma… My actual girlfriend, though, knows how to use the oven, but she’s not even close to be a professional. (But i am: if anyone’s thinking about to come to Madrid, please contact me. I invite you to taste some of my sea food specialities).
    I think that what really matters isn’t if we’re paid or not for our photographs, but how much of us we can put inside them. And i think everyone here at the community agrees with the fact that even when every single person in the world have a camera there will be still place for professional photographers. It’s not about how to shoot. It’s about what, and when. It’s about why.
    It’s good to be back after some time out.
    Cheers, David.

  • hello all…

    well, well…this was one of the most interesting discussions yet…and all of you continue to be the best writers in blogland….this is quite the collection of comments…thank you…

    one way or another your collected writings say it all….i can only summarize….

    photography, because of its mass appeal, is now an accepted “language”..often poorly spoken, mis-used, misunderstood, improperly applied, and sometimes cheapened by overexposure is nevertheless a form of “speech”…

    but, as several of you have pointed out, just because someone can write a grammatically correct sentence, does not a novelist or a poet make…

    the proliferation of imagery actually creates a better environment, in my opinion, for work that has intrinsic merit..for example, the great photo essays of w.eugene smith now look even better than they ever did back in the 1950’s….the over abundance of mediocrity makes the great work look even greater…

    i have seen some strong individual pictures on the photo sharing sites….and the Tate show was actually pretty interesting…but , it was not about “photographers as authors”, it was about “photography” as a mass phenomenon…two totally different things..and it was about the Tate…it was curatorial creativity…an art in and of itself….

    authorship cannot be mass produced or mass edited nor curated…authorship , in any form, comes from having something to “say”…and the “importance” in what you have to say will not be judged by you or by me…but by time and history…

    one thing for sure…a collected “body of work” comes from feeling and from heart and soul and the ability and talent to express this in coherent fashion… no small task…it cannot be random, nor can it be a happy accident…

    this is the very nature of creativity….it cannot be legislated nor can it be manufactured nor can it be rendered simplistically….

    if you really have something to say, you will say it….you will have to dig deep….open yourself up, face your worst fears, and allow “you” to be free….no new technology can help you there..

    those insignificant little cameras we have are just potential tools…potential tools…in and of themselves they only “get in the way”…a pain really…a barrier between us and the image or the manifestation of the image….

    when you think all of this through and obviously all of you are “thinkers” to be sure, then you will start using photography not only to show what your world “looks like” but what it “feels like”…

    this will not happen everyday even if you are “serious”…this will happen rarely even if you are working on it 14 hours a day , 7 days a week..what true artist ever thought he or she ever really “got it”??

    but, the beauty of the pursuit is everything…when, and if, it does “work” to at least some degree, you will have created something well beyond the “white noise” of so many “clicks” going on around us all the time…

    david

  • hi all, finally after some months I am able to post..hi david, didn’t disappear, but technology can surely be a b%7#h…in response to lee’s question about the flatness of digital images, I thought i might to the advantage of all reading this to explain that this is a structural element with regards to Bayer sensor design due to the low-pass filter incorporated to direct the light in a ‘straightish’ fashion onto the photodiode..

    you should see a remarkable increase in the quality of your images if you apply the following….

    BEFORE FINAL PRINT SHARPENING, AND AFTER LOCALISED TONAL ADJUSTMENTS, IF REQUIRED, APPLY:

    * flatten image in order to create a new file (simpler) and “save as…”

    *duplicate background layer

    *go to Filter>Other>high pass and apply, typically a setting of between 1.8 to 3 is enough, change the blending mode to “hard-light”, you should at first see a grey funky image after the blending mode change this step restores the loss of micro-detail in the image due to blur of the low-pass filter and the effect can be adjusted through the opacity slider amount

    *now duplicate both layers and merge into a new layer that incorporates the micro-detail

    *on this new layer, apply a unsharp mask or smart sharpening filter with amount between 35 – 50% and radius of 100 – 150 with a threshold of 1 – 3 and all its multitude of variants, play around…this restores the loss of local contrast and removes the “smudging” and “film” of flatness that hangs over a digital capture..remember the effect of this can be altered through the amount of the opacity slider, and the blending mode should be on luminosity to avoid any unwanted color changes..also, in the beginning you tend to overdue this…remember Cartier-Bresson’s saying: “a soft hand and a velvet touch”..you’ll quickly get the hang of it

    *for final print sharpening, flatten all layers, resize and interpolate, and sharpen with normal tools used…you might find you need a little less sharpening

    The above is the simple version of my postgraduate thesis on fixing the problems that sensor design bring into play through a basic Photoshop protocol and holds also for film scans,just in smaller amounts, as the sensor have similar problems…

    sorry for the extensive post on which might seem of topic, but as most of us will be submitting digital images, you will be amzed at what this does for your images..

    saludos

  • ….. then take two aspirin and get some rest. wow, now that was changing gears. i think you said it in your first paragraph, ‘technology can surely be a b%7#h…’

    i find utter joy in making pictures, making stories, the journey to ‘getting there’, and exploring and honing my ‘vision’.

    the the digital processing afterwards is a real pain. changes in technology are a distraction. however necessary. if you fight it, you will lose, i’ve been told. so, i try to think of it as the same labor of love that used to exist in the darkroom… and in the end, the results are very satisfying..

    but still… it is the ‘being there with something to say’ that is paramount. low-pass this and 50% that and threshhold this.. where are those aspirin??

  • hi david, you wrote:

    “if you really have something to say, you will say it….you will have to dig deep….open yourself up, face your worst fears, and allow “you” to be free….no new technology can help you there..”

    On an assignement such as the one (Seoul) you are working on these days, how do you know if you have someting to say about this subject? Is there the possibility that you come back with empty ends because you didn’t believe you found something to say that matters (really matters) to you.

    I am trying to better understand the creative process. The lens you choose (therefore technology) will impact your pictures. the flash you use will impact your pictures. Even the film you use will impact your pictures….so to me the technology is a part of the creative process (am I wrong?)….

    Arie

  • jakob…

    good ideas…i think…no clue from my end..i mastered black & white fiber paper printing, but never went much further into the technicalities of image to paper…i just figured out early on that my time was going to get divided up so many ways that i had better choose those ways very carefully….i do know what i want in print, but i try to surround myself with good people who have the tech expertise and who can “interpret” for me ..like you…thanks

    lance…

    you know very well that the only thing i can do with photoshop is drop in the pictures to be re-sized for this blog….

    but i think that basically what jakob was saying in “film parlance” is that if you purposely overexpose the b&w negative, and then under develop a bit, and then print on #4 paper you get a better tonal range than if you did it “normal”.. with this over-exposed, under developed neg you have a solid base from which to jump…do i have that right???

  • arie

    good question..and good time to ask it…

    i will have 20 pages to “play with” for the book as part of this magnum group project on Korea..and traveling exhibit…i have total shooting and editing freedom..two weeks shooting…dream project and also hanging with my magnum friends who are here…i will need about 10-15 good pictures…maybe 1 or 2 really good pictures,

    but this is not an easy “nut to crack”

    i know i cannot “get into” the Korean psyche in just two weeks…but, that is where my efforts go anyway…i do not need to visit many places…i just want to capture a microcosm of “who are the Koreans?’ what makes them “tick”? how can i capture a moment or define a space with just a little tweak of what this culture is all about..very specifically Korean “youth culture” is my theme….i tried this so so much yesterday…looking for the gesture girls make often when they speak..covering their mouths gently…softly..respectfully…

    i put “concepts” into my psycological hard drive…i think Korean history…a country that has been attacked from every angle, but has never attacked…a country where everyone works so so hard for one simple reason…self defense…Korea is surrounded by potential “enemies” both militarily and with business competition..and yet , this is ironically combined with an asian gentleness..these two images come and go quickly….i must be “on” to capture either one or both …these two things are “personality” and i am trying to come to grips with this in visual terms…but i cannot be visual until i “feel it” and here it is very hard, because this is a “closed culture” compared let’s say to sicily where i was just a couple of months ago..there are few “outsiders” here…Koreans mix with Koreans…

    i often compare this kind of work to “method acting”…you must “become the character” to do really good work…i cannot do that here…but i am getting closer…making very good friends who totally “get” what i want…they are my key..without them i could do nothing but take well exposed “nice pictures”…

    it is the friends i have made here that make me feel “at home and a part” and will lead me into a little karaoke bar some night and i will get a moment that captures some aspect of Korean personality…with light, with gesture, with moment and in “context” with who Koreans really “are”…

    in all of this effort i must show patience…i must appear relaxed at all times…showing frustration would set me back for days….”go with the flow” but “make it happen” all rolled into one…

    david

  • Hi David,

    I hope things are clicking (no pun) as every day passes. I bet you already have a few good pictures, and actually, maybe a stupid question, but are they only rolls for the duration of the trip, or already being processed in Seoul. Do you need to see first “rushes” so that they reveal something you can start pursuing, hanging on, or inversely, make you seem as if you are still too clueless?

    I was also wondering if what you know of other photographer friends of you, like the ones on the K. assignment, or Thailand before, makes you think sometimes a certain subject, a certain locale is better cut out for him or her, according to personality, familiarity to the locale, or the way they usually approach a subject. Or do you think it matters little, every photographer worth its agency signature, can bring his angle, his edge, and most likely only him/her can do it the way it will come out. last, did you have a say which one would take on a different aspect of the country you are covering?

    Thanks,

    H

  • Hello
    It was great to read your comments David.

  • Hi David and all;

    Sorry ‘bout the bad grammar and I know the HCB quote is actually ‘a hawk’s eye and a velvet glove’, but 72 hours of shooting and only 10 of sleep plus the late hour took its toll; some interpretation leads to the same conclusion however.

    With regards to the process explained above, it is actually very simple…the complete workflow is however quite extensive (300+ pages) but is based on the principles of the human visual system, it’s requirements in terms of photographic imagery and how we make the “technology” that we now end-up using do that…make nice pics (he-he)

    David, for example, many of the images printed in NG since they switched paper substrate seem to be missing the “vibrancy” and “crisp punch” that the magazine had in the late 90’s; and many photographers blame the printers, or magazine, in a vicious circle I suppose; unfortunately it is the fact that digital technologies have different reproduction requirements that result in this and if photographers fixed at least the abovementioned we should see a return of that beauty to the printed page…

    If you guys are interested I will write the above up as a Photoshop action, then you just press a button, and it will ask you to adjust the effect’s strength…if you are interested in receiving such an action plus instructions as to how and where to put it and use it, e-mail me at jacobd@vut.ac.za

    Please bear in mind that this is not manipulation, it is merely fixing the inherent problems that a silicon-based light-sensitive material have inherently; the net result being a loss of fine detail i.e. micro-detail and overt smudging due to mostly excessive in-camera noise-reduction, especially on JPG-files, low-pass filtration and anti-aliasing. This the one-step fixes. The lackluster appearance of digital images, what Alex Majoli called the ‘lack of blacks’, commenting, ‘I need the blacks’, if I recall correctly, is actually the slope of the tone transfer function that manufacturers built in to protect the sensor from overexposing, combined with the low-pass filtration that actually ‘flattens’ local contrast; which is what the next step takes away…

    Lance, you are quite correct…I spend my time making images, that is the most important thing, but needed to fix the inherent problems with digital capture before I switched in order to get the results that I was always getting with “good ol’ tranny”, and David, in that sense, your comment goes in the right direction…

    Again, any who read the above, DO NOT OVERDO IT, ESPECIALLY THE LOCAL CONTRAST ENHANCEMENT, 20 – 40% SHOULD BE ENOUGH.

    Sorry for staying off-topic…

    blessin’s…

  • herve…

    each magnum photographer picked his or her own topic…yes, it does matter..certain photographers are attracted to certain subject matter….i could probably “craft” a science story if i had to, but i would rather not..others would be better at this than i…my “professionalism” could kick in, but my heart would not…it would make a difference….i enjoy certain types of stories and make every effort to get those stories or those projects…i either turn down projects that i am not suited for or, more likely, i am not asked to do them in the first place…

    jakob…

    i totally believe in what you are saying even though what you are saying is way over my head!!! like alex majoli (who is asleep now in a room just down the hall) i need the blacks!! always did need the blacks….grew up printing like eugene smith and loved the old kodachrome which is the only tranny film that had BLACK…well, velvia too…

    i am not a tech guy …and we rarely talk tech stuff here…but any help we non techies can get to help us deliver our “message” in the way we intend is totally appreciated….

    david

  • frank….

    i am still wrestling with this one….sometimes i think that film is mostly a “sentimental” journey….i mean, isn’t the photograph, what is pictured, the “message” or is the “medium the message”

    other times i think exactly as you…i sometimes just want to walk away from all the hard drives etc etc and just pick up a linhof panoramic and make 12 carefully crafted images instead of 1200 electronic files….but would the actual pictures be any different???

    i do not however think video will replace stills any more than television replaced radio or the movie theaters…..it didn’t…just another way to communicate… maybe stills and video in conjunction with each other???…saving this thought for a new post…

  • ben…

    i totally agree with you on total involvement, but one small correction please….robert frank did not do “tulsa”… larry clark did…

  • Hi David;

    a small leonard cohen hallelujah to you brother; the first photography book I read was Gene Smith’s ‘Let Truth be the Prejudice’ and the second was William Klein’s ‘New York Rome Tokyo’; and after that apparently to all I know I was lost to photography…me thinks not..boy could they print emotion out of those blacks…\

    The only reason I commented on Lee’s question was because indirectly it pertains to the question of where we see our role as photographers…the new technologies demand of us to change and educate both ourselves and our clients in order to attain the best quality, which I believe coupled with a strong sense of self and purpose in your photography will create a niche, always, for the professional photographer…

    As with regards to the action, it is now available, with the disclaimer that though it has gone through proper testing, is used as is and I cannot be held responsible if you should lose data…

    hope the shooting in Korea is singing; and a small hello also to Alex

    regards;

  • jakob – i’ll try it! you’re most gracious with your tech knowledge.

  • cathy scholl..

    yes, i agree….everyone who whacks away out there on the golf course only appreciates the meticulous consistency of tiger woods even more…

    aga…

    yes, too many young photographers are going off to cover war to get “famous fast”…dangerous mistake for one thing and shallow for another…

    jim nachtwey and i met in a war zone in nicaragua years ago..we have remained good friends…however, two other young photographers i met at the same time were killed within a couple of weeks of the time i met them…

    one of them, richard cross, who was down there “trying to get a break” was standing with me in the hotel breakfast buffet line the morning he was killed…. he asked me if i thought he could get invited to the natgeo seminar that year..i said sure…we shooks hands, he waved goodbye…..and john hoagland, a more seasoned vet than richard, and more “known” than nachtwey at the time and who looked like errol flynn, and i had been through a couple of “sea stories” together just days before he died in salvador…

    there were many others i did not know who died in a war that most of you cannot remember and the rest of us only have a vague recollection…

    so nachtwey “made it out” and became nachtwey…i am sure none of you have ever heard of cross or hoagland….and both were as charming and macho and brave and eager as they come…

    the glamour of war photography in particular creates all kinds of negative aspects which i will save for another post…and copying both the actions and the styles of certain photographers who have “won prizes” and gained acclaim is both dangerous personally and artistically….

    yes, aga….the capa’s, the mccullin’s and the nachtwey’s are few and far between..

  • ben huang…

    i missed seeing your site the first time around..sorry…and i could not get it to open totally either, but i did see some nice street work albeit briefly….

    bartek and asher….

    you said it all….first!!

    tom hyde…

    all of your points are well taken…and true

    but, i sing in the shower!! sounds pretty good…to me!!!

    giancarlo…

    yes, yes..the journey…enjoy it…you only have one…..just “play your best hand and let the chips fall where they may”…i do not know who said that, but it is true…

  • Hi David, Cathy, I disagree a bit about the myriad photographers out there getting to know more about the craft, its history, its masters. The only people I know who care that much are people passionate about photography. And maybe, what we talk about here is not photography but taking pictures, millions of them every day. yes?

    On the other hand, David, you must be in contact with so many amateurs who show how devoted they are about this craft, you may have an embarassment of riches as regards passion and depth of involvement.

  • herve…

    well, i do not think the myriad of photographers out there necessarily study the craft..and i am often shocked at some students that enroll even in my workshops who barely have a clue about the history of photography…

    but, when they do see “better” pictures than the ones they are taking, they do pick up on it quickly…and are eager to learn once they realize there is something to learn!!

    serious amateurs have a lot to offer once they “see the light” and realize that their freedom from needing to be financed by photography can lead to some very productive work…and the rest are just having fun shooting their memories….nothing wrong with that!!!

    i always thought a nice exhibit of refrigerator doors would be pretty interesting…i think it has been done, but i cannot remember where….photography serves many for many different reasons…i am sure professional race car drivers do not worry at all about all the drivers out there on the highway stuck in gridlock traffic….

  • David:
    I am reading the post, very concentrated, but I think that lot of people here miss the point that it is not a problem for “serious photographers” but in fact a challenge to stand aside of zillions of images in the web, in a cellphone or anywhere. I do not consider myself a serious photographer, and I don´t want to waste time trying to figure out what it means to be one of them. I prefer to work and to bring something interesting, at least for me. It´s very dissaponting to see artists worrying about how the secret knowledge of photography/equipment/technique alchemy is now commonplace. It is better to raise the standards for ourselves and for anyone who really cares about art.
    Best Regards,
    Felipe

  • Thanks David, for staying in touch while currently on assignment.

    Yes, it’s quite possible that as more and more people handle cameras for more than just taking pictures of the last vacation and family gatherings, they will be more apt to appreciate other works than theirs, in stance, quality or subject.

    And how right you are in seeing the greatest opportunity for creation when we don’t have to please anybody, and make a buck with it. I mean, total freedom, gee, how bad can it be?

    After that, to get more than 20 people to know about you, I think it’s always been a tough proposition. And I have no idea if the huge consumption of image, and image-taking, out there will run down voices that cry to be heard.

    It’s pretty much one of the challenges of the new millenium for everyone: to make sure we are still heard as individuals. On your marks!

  • JORGE :

    Could you please tell me more about this letter by Sergio Larrain as he’s had a huge influence on me ???

    my email is

    pyracine@gmail.cm

    thanks a lot !

  • @gmail.com … sorry

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