Forums > Photography Talk > A Great Photographer

Photographer

Fred Greissing

Posts: 6412

Los Angeles, California, US

Natalia_Taffarel wrote:

Neuroscience

Can you point us to the studies?

Mar 13 14 12:16 pm Link

Photographer

Mikey McMichaels

Posts: 2313

New York, New York, US

Natalia_Taffarel wrote:

I never said you need to know science to make pictures.

Read the post I was disagreeing with.

"Beautiful" creates a reaction in the brain - several parts of the brain. Some relate to objective some relate to the subjective.

It's not all emotions and personal.

This is not my opinion is a fact.

Correct - electrical and chemical, but what do you think emotions are?

Emotions are how we describe the brain chemistry we experience.


Photography, like music, is about manipulating brain chemistry.

Mar 14 14 04:44 am Link

Photographer

Mikey McMichaels

Posts: 2313

New York, New York, US

Drew Smith Photography wrote:

On some level everything is a chemical reaction in the brain.

Falling in love. Chemical reaction. Desire to stay with your partner for at least 18-24 months. Chemical reaction in the brain. Programmed to ensure stability in the relationship until fertilisation, incubation and early months or raising offspring. Fact.

The expectation of the dopamine and desire for serotonin and oxytocin are powerful motivators. Fact. smile

But surely you do not want to boil love, sex, and art down to the predicable secretion of certain chemicals in the body, do you?

I would never boil love, sex and art down to that. I'd boil every aspect of life down to that.

Mar 14 14 04:46 am Link

Photographer

Mikey McMichaels

Posts: 2313

New York, New York, US

Natalia_Taffarel wrote:

Pretty much, yes

But it's not beautiful, or beauty - I used the word beauty because its commonly accepted and I referenced Kant.

Positive/negative creating reaction images would be maybe more accurate?

But maybe is better if I just said something related to magic and the soul of a picture then every idiot failed photographer would agree

You have to specify film. There's only soul in film.

I learned that here recently.

Mar 14 14 04:49 am Link

Photographer

Mikey McMichaels

Posts: 2313

New York, New York, US

Giacomo Cirrincioni wrote:
galleristas and curators, bemoaning the fact that so many new artists simply have lost the plot when it comes to print making.

The only people who've lost the plot are the ones still making prints.

How many thousands of years have we had prints, and we haven't found something new and better?

Print making should be obsolete.

And there should be no professional inject printing in the mean time, only projections of digital on to photographic paper that gets developed.

I'd be shocked if that didn't make for better results, and it's probably way cheaper than buying printer ink.

Mar 14 14 04:54 am Link

Photographer

Mikey McMichaels

Posts: 2313

New York, New York, US

Fred Greissing wrote:

Can you point us to the studies?

You'd probably find a ton through Google.

There's Dr Oohashi's hypersonic effects, which are not directly related, but do demonstrate the point.

There was one study that made the mainstream regarding waist to hip ratios.

I'm sure finding those would lead to plenty of others.

Mar 14 14 04:58 am Link

guide forum

Photographer

Giacomo Cirrincioni

Posts: 21384

New York, New York, US

Mikey McMichaels wrote:
The only people who've lost the plot are the ones still making prints.

How many thousands of years have we had prints, and we haven't found something new and better?

Print making should be obsolete.

And there should be no professional inject printing in the mean time, only projections of digital on to photographic paper that gets developed.

I'd be shocked if that didn't make for better results, and it's probably way cheaper than buying printer ink.

I have no idea how to parse out your response. An image fixed on photographic paper is a print...  Inkjet printing has has nothing to do with what I was saying.

Prints may be obsolete for you, but certainly not for most.  The print is the product. The artifact.

Why does the fact that something has existed for generations mean that something new is automatically better?

Mar 14 14 05:30 am Link

Photographer

Al Lock Photography

Posts: 16071

Bangkok, Bangkok, Thailand

Zack Zoll wrote:

Zack Zoll wrote:
Depends on how broad you want to go.

"A beautiful woman" is attractive to every culture.  Not every culture will agree on which women are beautiful, but there's nobody that doesn't like "a beautiful woman."

Al, you're reading too deeply into it, and getting way too specific.  Do you like beautiful women?  I'm not asking you to define one ... I'm just asking if you do.

I'm guessing you do.  I'm also guessing that if you ask that question across cultures, almost everyone will say yes.

So beautiful women are a "universal" idea.  Reubens was painting beautiful women.  We may not think they were now, but back then - hubba hubba.

Like I said ... if you go broad enough, almost every idea of beauty becomes universal.  Ruin porn becomes synonymous with memory and nostalgia, etc.

That's like asking Hitler if he was a good person. He'd say yes. You're not actually making a point because you are referring to a word that has positive connotations without defining the word. Silly.

Mar 14 14 08:32 am Link

Photographer

L A U B E N H E I M E R

Posts: 8797

Seattle, Washington, US

Al Lock Photography wrote:
That's like asking Hitler if he was a good person. He'd say yes. You're not actually making a point because you are referring to a word that has positive connotations without defining the word. Silly.

why/how are you relating hitler to a beautiful woman?

Mar 14 14 08:49 am Link

Photographer

MMDesign

Posts: 18647

Louisville, Kentucky, US

Mikey McMichaels wrote:

You have to specify film. There's only soul in film.

I learned that here recently.

Glad I was able to help.  smile

Mar 14 14 08:50 am Link

Photographer

Mikey McMichaels

Posts: 2313

New York, New York, US

Giacomo Cirrincioni wrote:

I have no idea how to parse out your response. An image fixed on photographic paper is a print...  Inkjet printing has has nothing to do with what I was saying.

Prints may be obsolete for you, but certainly not for most.  The print is the product. The artifact.

Why does the fact that something has existed for generations mean that something new is automatically better?

Something new is not automatically better. Given enough time, which we've had, we should come up with something better than prints. I have no idea what that would be, but it should exist.

I think for most people, like a gallery customer, the product is actually the print and the frame together. Donald Judd might argue the entire wall.

Let's go back to a time when chemical prints were the only option. We'd all have been pursuing the best paper and best chemicals. New wouldn't by default mean better, but the opportunity for better, so we'd be looking for the next new improvement in paper or chemicals. Of course you can argue it's just an option as "improvement" is subjective.

My bigger point  is that we haven't had any conceptual steps forward in displaying images like we have in making them. There are no "gallery quality" monitors or thin digital frames. There's no subscription based corporate art - Muzak for lobby imagery - monthly or weekly photos.

We don't even have paired monitor/printer sets designed together so that calibrating one automatically calibrates the other. Calibration may be impossible to connect, but the concept of designing them to be used as a pair doesn't exist as far as I know.

The idea that a print is "the" method of displaying an image is unnecessarily limiting.

Mar 14 14 01:23 pm Link

Photographer

MMDesign

Posts: 18647

Louisville, Kentucky, US

Mikey McMichaels wrote:
The idea that a print is "the" method of displaying an image is unnecessarily limiting.

If one is wanting to collect jpgs of art, then pretty much anything will work. If someone is wanting to collect a piece of art, then nothing, so far, has surpassed the silver print in black & white (I am only talking black & white here because that's all I really care about).

Mar 14 14 05:14 pm Link

Photographer

Zack Zoll

Posts: 2643

Glens Falls, New York, US

Zack Zoll wrote:
Al, you're reading too deeply into it, and getting way too specific.  Do you like beautiful women?  I'm not asking you to define one ... I'm just asking if you do.

I'm guessing you do.  I'm also guessing that if you ask that question across cultures, almost everyone will say yes.

So beautiful women are a "universal" idea.  Reubens was painting beautiful women.  We may not think they were now, but back then - hubba hubba.

Like I said ... if you go broad enough, almost every idea of beauty becomes universal.  Ruin porn becomes synonymous with memory and nostalgia, etc.

Al Lock Photography wrote:
That's like asking Hitler if he was a good person. He'd say yes. You're not actually making a point because you are referring to a word that has positive connotations without defining the word. Silly.

Its nothing of the sort.  If you really want to bring up Hitler(why?!), all I'm asking him is if he likes good people.  I'm not asking for a definition, or explaining what "good people" are.  Just, "Do you like good people, yes or no?"

Of COURSE I'm referring to a word that has positive connections without defining it - that's the entire point of a 'universal truth.'  If we had to define it, then it wouldn't be universal anymore!

You continue to get hung up on, and argue with me about, something that I'm not saying at all.  I've already made it quite clear that I'm not making any judgement calls about what is or is not beautiful, and only saying that everyone likes beauty.  I don't know why this is causing confusion.

Mikey McMichaels wrote:
We don't even have paired monitor/printer sets designed together so that calibrating one automatically calibrates the other. Calibration may be impossible to connect, but the concept of designing them to be used as a pair doesn't exist as far as I know.

While there are no 'calibrated sets' - and I'm not even sure that anybody makes high-end monitors AND high-end printers - there are many monitors and printers that are specifically designed to be used as part of a complete colour-managed system.  Even going back as far as the late 90s, our photo lab began every day by calibrating the monitor to that machine's test print, although we use Eizo monitors and Noritsu printers.  We may have been doing it even earlier than that, but I wasn't there to see it happen.,

You can hop on B&H or wherever and buy an X-rite system to calibrate your own monitor to your printer.  Costs start at about $500 for the consumer versions, or around $1,200 for the pro versions.

Mikey McMichaels wrote:
My bigger point  is that we haven't had any conceptual steps forward in displaying images like we have in making them. There are no "gallery quality" monitors or thin digital frames. There's no subscription based corporate art - Muzak for lobby imagery - monthly or weekly photos.
(snip)

The idea that a print is "the" method of displaying an image is unnecessarily limiting.

A print may be limiting, but that's the whole point of it - at least as far as gallery sales are concerned.  Galleries DO show slideshows and display images on-screen(and have for many years), and that will only get more common with the new 4K displays.  But if you're talking about gallery sales then people want prints, because they want something that they can physically own.

Pandora is a better example than Musak, since Musak is used for businesses that would otherwise need to pay huge licensing fees to play 'regular' records.  So we'll use Pandora as an example smile  Play-on-demand music works as a business model because you're using an established delivery system:  you pay for music, and it comes through your speakers.  Regardless of how you get the music, you still have the same feeling of "ownership" when you listen to it, and it still sounds the same to anyone that doesn't have a kickass stereo.  To 95% of listeners, Pandora works the same as a CD, and sounds exactly as good.

Prints are different, as people buy them because they want to own something - an artifact, as Giacomo said.  With digital delivery, there is no artifact to own.  Prints are less like CDs, and more like records.  People that want to own artifacts buy records over CDs for just that reason.  I've been in the audio business long enough to tell you that unless your stereo cost several thousand dollars, there is no difference in quality between listening to something recorded for a record and recorded for a CD - almost all of the quality difference comes from adapting one album to a different format without going back to the master tapes and remixing it from scratch, and this happens a lot more often than you'd think.

Unless you could sell your stereo for enough money to buy a nice used car, then you're buying vinyl because you want an artifact - something to hold in your hands.  And there's nothing wrong with that - I buy records too.

But that desire to hold your purchase in your hands - or in a gallery's case, say, "There are only ten of these and I own one," is why prints are unlikely to go away any time soon.

Mar 14 14 05:18 pm Link

Photographer

WIP

Posts: 15546

Cheltenham, England, United Kingdom

As Natalia posed the question maybe she could give us some examples of these great photographers.

Mar 14 14 05:26 pm Link

Photographer

Jim Lafferty

Posts: 1948

Brooklyn, New York, US

I think it's interesting that there seems to be no clear division being made here between what makes a great photograph, and what makes a great photographer. One is a discussion of the qualities of an object, the other a discussion of an exercise or performance (of which the object is a bi-product).

What makes a great photographer may or may not result in great photographs, at least not all the time.

I'm just putting this out there: if you're caught up in always thinking about a great photograph, you're going to keep yourself from being a great photographer. It will always remain elusive.

It's natural for a retoucher to obsess over the qualities of an object - that's their passion, their vocation. It's much more important for a photographer to concentrate on the exercise, the performance, the act... and worry less about the object.

Mar 14 14 09:14 pm Link

Photographer

Al Lock Photography

Posts: 16071

Bangkok, Bangkok, Thailand

L A U B E N H E I M E R wrote:

why/how are you relating hitler to a beautiful woman?

I'm referring to the failure to define a subjective word...

Mar 14 14 11:32 pm Link

Photographer

Al Lock Photography

Posts: 16071

Bangkok, Bangkok, Thailand

Zack Zoll wrote:
I'm not asking for a definition, or explaining what "good people" are.  Just, "Do you like good people, yes or no?"

And without defining what you mean by "good" (or have it understood within that culture/context) - it means nothing.

Which seems to be the core of your comments. To actually say nothing.

Mar 14 14 11:33 pm Link

Photographer

Julian W I L D E

Posts: 1829

Portland, Oregon, US

Natalia_Taffarel wrote:

You calling out bullshit is not something that stops others from sharing thoughts.

Any debate is good debate

I'm reminded that the ancient Greeks debated ad infinitum how many angels exactly could stand on the head of a pin.  ;-)

Mar 14 14 11:51 pm Link

Photographer

Zack Zoll

Posts: 2643

Glens Falls, New York, US

Al Lock Photography wrote:

And without defining what you mean by "good" (or have it understood within that culture/context) - it means nothing.

Which seems to be the core of your comments. To actually say nothing.

Sigh.  Okay Al, I give up.  You win.  My comments have never really been about anything.

Mar 15 14 05:35 am Link

Photographer

BillyVegas

Posts: 395

Chicago, Illinois, US

I was only introduced to Barthes stadium/punctum ideas by their reference (and not here, lol) so I had to go back and read about it... Unfortunately I disagree with the concepts.  Anyways.. here's a quote, "Time: the metonymy of the instantaneous, the possibility of the narrative magnetized by its own limit. The instantaneous in photography, the snapshot, would itself be but the most striking metonymy within the modern technological age of an older instantaneity. Older, even though it is never foreign to the possibility of techne in general. Remaining as attentive as possible to all the differences, one must be able to speak of a punctum of all signs (and all repetition or iterability already structures it), in any discourse. As long as we do not hold to some naive and “realist” referentialism, it is the relation to some unique and irreplaceable referent that interests us: what took place only once, while dividing itself already, in the sights or in front of the lens...The photographic apparatus reminds us of this irreducible referential by means of a very powerful telescoping." -Derrida

Mar 15 14 08:31 am Link

Photographer

BillyVegas

Posts: 395

Chicago, Illinois, US

Also I gave this a lot of thought.  I think my answer to this question is an unpopular one, for a lot of reasons.  Basically, I think a great photographer (and I only considered this just recently reading this thread) is one who realizes that a great photograph kind of fetishizes its subject to the viewer.

This is only done technically in the sense that perhaps to show the beauty of a landscape, it's shot wide and retouched with a lot of saturation to be sublime, or by lighting a model to emphasize a viewer's certain perspective, etc.

And really this applies to landscape, glamour, commercial, architecture, etc and all the subgenres of photography, and also to art works in general (painting, and so on).  I think my idea may not be popular when fully realized, because it often implies that images we don't like for whatever reasons can be great photos.  For example, a Sears catalog photo can be great, and if so it's a good ad for the product.  Or a glamour photo taken in a luxurious hotel of a beautiful woman, we may think is typical.. But if its appearance is framed in such a way that the viewer's sense of desire for what is 'in' the photo is heightened, it can be a great photo.

I would be careful to dismiss a photograph as not being great because of your own preferences, or more simply.. what you like.  If it's possible to imagine the appeal of a photograph's subject to others, understand that and then see if you think the photo emphasizes that appeal in a creative way, what was done, etc and go from there. 

And when critiquing a photo, I don't think it wise to relate it to whatever you're personally interested in... explaining its greatness with cognitive science(sorry Natalia), or for another person- whether it shows expression or emotion(Robert), and another- if it sticks in your memory.  It seems most people here can recognize great photos, it's just that the matter of accurately describing why it is great can be difficult.

As a side note, here is a photo of mine that shows a lot of expression and was described by someone as 'sexy suprised'. 

http://i62.tinypic.com/2a8gck4.jpg

It is a bad photo of a beautiful model.

For me all photographs create an appearance, and there's nothing outside of the frame, so we -should- look at a work or series of works and describe them in a way that is particularly engaged to the work itself.  Also, it's possible that you may just not understand it, especially if it contains elements that are obscure or abstract.  There are exceptions of course that with a high degree of certainty you can say it's not great.  And this is usually most clear when you can make assumptions about how the subject is meant to appear, and the image doesn't succeed in portraying it. 

For example, this photo taken by a good personal friend of mine who I've worked with many times:

http://i58.tinypic.com/21azaxf.jpg

I think what was supposed to be fashion didn't appear successful because of the tags, visible end of fabric roll, etc.  And to throw my good friend under the bus, it's very safe to say it's not a great photo.  The same can be said about most of my own photographs, although, until now it was never my goal to take personally great photos and if it were, I wouldn't have even known how.

On the other hand, the photo posted earlier in the thread as an example of a great photo:

http://i60.tinypic.com/b697nm.jpg

Although I usually don't like so little difference throughout a composition in hue, (here is an exception) this really is a great photo, and a perfect example of what great glamour is supposed to be.

Mar 15 14 06:53 pm Link