login info join!
Forums > Photography Talk > A Great Photographer Search   Reply
first123456last
Photographer
A-M-P
Posts: 18,211
Orlando, Florida, US


BlueMoonPics wrote:
A great photographer is not necessarily a famous photographer and vice versa.

+1 on this

Mar 05 14 05:20 pm  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Photographer
Giacomo Cirrincioni
Posts: 21,241
New York, New York, US


Perhaps we need to first agree on what constitutes great before we can agree on what gets one there.  When I think of "great photographer" I'm thinking of those who have produced a body of work that will be celebrated for generations to come, both academically as well as artistically (by curators, art directors, galleristas, etc.).

Same thing when I think of "great photographs". I think of the best of the best, not all really good photos by even a great photographer.

I have the feeling I am on a different tack from others in the thread?
Mar 05 14 05:44 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Zack Zoll
Posts: 2,479
Glens Falls, New York, US


I don't think that a 'great photographer' is someone that can make good images using rules of composition, etc.  At best, that means that a 'great photographer' is someone who paid attention to their photo books, and always follows the rules.  At worst, it means nothing - if you just run around all day shooting photos in random directions, you WILL have lots of good photos that look like they follow the rules of composition.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

No, a great photographer is not someone that can make good images.  EVERYONE can do that.  A great photographer is someone who can recognize a good image, and who knows when an image is good enough to stand on its own merit without technical skill.  Sometimes camera shake or missed focus adds to the impact of the photo, but most blurry photos are just out of focus.

Giacomo Cirrincioni wrote:
I like Swinsky's answer as well.

I think you're also going to have a variety of answers based on an individual's background.  If, like myself, they come from an academic/art background, they will probably read images differently than someone who comes from a purely commercial background.  Having said that, there are certain "truths" if you will that seem to remain constants.

I would highly recommend the following books to anyone who really has an interest in the subject:

Camera Lucida
By Roland Barthes

On Art and Artists
By Aldous Huxley

On Photography
By Susan Sontag

The Contest of Meaning: Critical Histories of Photography
By Richard Bolton

I would also add Geoff Dyer's The Ongoing Moment to this list, as he explains trends and evolving symbolism in photography, as well as exploring the role of the photographer.


Giacomo Cirrincioni wrote:
"A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know."
~ Diane Arbus

I hate this sentence ... not because it's a bad statement, but because so many artist statements are based around this quote.  Which is why I based my artist statement around this quote.

The implication of the statement is that if a photograph is too descriptive, too obvious, that it cannot be interesting.  If you think of photographs as films, a photograph that 'tells more' is a documentary.  It says what it says, and it tells you what conclusions to reach.  And I love documentaries, but the only "thought provoking" they do is the ideas that they feed you.

An image that tells less would be a mystery, or a more experimental film.  Something like Rear Window, Lost Highway, or Inception.  The image gives you a chance to jump to conclusions(and maybe be wrong), which makes the viewer invest more heavily into it.

The reason I hate Arbus' quote isn't because she's wrong - she's completely right.  I hate it because it has become such a common idea, that it dilutes all meaning.  People say that they like images that, "tell a story," but 99% of those images DON'T tell a story.  They just have a gap where a narrative could go.  Most images
'tell a story' like Stephen Tyler uses symbolism in Aerosmith lyrics:  just throw a bunch of metaphors out there, and something is bound to stick with someone and make them think like you planned it.

I think these days, to really do what Arbus meant - to give the viewer something to think about - you need to tell more.  You need to explain it all, and explain it in such a way that the viewer ends up thinking the wrong thing.  Back to films, look at Exit Through the Gift Shop.  That was a documentary, and it told everything.  But it was total BS.  Or maybe it wasn't.  Or maybe it was.  The viewer had all the information, but at the end of the film, doesn't know how much of it is true.  That provokes thought, by subverting the idea of truth.

Mar 05 14 05:45 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
MMDesign
Posts: 18,647
Louisville, Kentucky, US


I'm one of the biggest fans of photography, but I really don't believe I've seen a "great" photographer yet.
Mar 05 14 06:04 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
BlueMoonPics
Posts: 4,335
New York, New York, US


I think it's a very open ended question.

I immediately compare the idea of a great photographer to a great guitarist.
How do you say who is great?
Is it technical ability?  Is it the emotion conveyed?

There are also different genres.
Ever see a classical or flamenco guitarist?  They blow away any rock guitarist!
Mar 05 14 06:29 pm  Link  Quote 
Retoucher
Natalia_Taffarel
Posts: 7,665
Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina


MMDesign wrote:
I'm one of the biggest fans of photography, but I really don't believe I've seen a "great" photographer yet.

You need better references then

Mar 05 14 06:37 pm  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Photographer
Giacomo Cirrincioni
Posts: 21,241
New York, New York, US


MMDesign wrote:
I'm one of the biggest fans of photography, but I really don't believe I've seen a "great" photographer yet.

Natalia_Taffarel wrote:
You need better references then

I wouldn't be too condescending, MM has a better knowledge of the photographic canon than most here. Instead you may wish to understand why he feels that way (unless, of course, you're not actually interested in having an intellectual discussion on the subject).

Mar 05 14 06:41 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jean Renard Photography
Posts: 2,050
Los Angeles, California, US


I'm not sure I would hold the original definition up as rules change, some of the best photographers are not doing it full time.

To me a great photographer is one who can consistently achieve the results they or their clients are looking for.

That wraps it up in a nice package.  The operating word here is 'consistently'.  The rest becomes subjective as we get past three degrees of separation.
Mar 05 14 06:49 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
gopherlove
Posts: 79
Chicago, Illinois, US


maybe a great photographer has great ideas... then shoots those ideas ... then makes those images into prints ... then sells those prints for money ... alot of money smile
Mar 05 14 06:50 pm  Link  Quote 
Retoucher
Natalia_Taffarel
Posts: 7,665
Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina


Giacomo Cirrincioni wrote:

MMDesign wrote:
I'm one of the biggest fans of photography, but I really don't believe I've seen a "great" photographer yet.

I wouldn't be too condescending, MM has a better knowledge of the photographic canon than most here. Instead you may wish to understand why he feels that way (unless, of course, you're not actually interested in having an intellectual discussion on the subject).

What discussion? There are no great photographers?

I can name 10 of the too of my head.

How can you say there are no great photographers when so many have already made history?

Mar 05 14 06:52 pm  Link  Quote 
Retoucher
Natalia_Taffarel
Posts: 7,665
Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina


Jean Renard Photography wrote:
I'm not sure I would hold the original definition up as rules change, some of the best photographers are not doing it full time.

To me a great photographer is one who can consistently achieve the results they or their clients are looking for.

That wraps it up in a nice package.  The operating word here is 'consistently'.  The rest becomes subjective as we get past three degrees of separation.

Rules haven't changed since Leonardo da Vinci.

What rules you speak of?

Mar 05 14 06:53 pm  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Photographer
Giacomo Cirrincioni
Posts: 21,241
New York, New York, US


Natalia_Taffarel wrote:
What discussion? There are no great photographers?

I can name 10 of the too of my head.

How can you say there are no great photographers when so many have already made history?

I don't know... 

Let's ask him!

YO! MM!

Could you expand on your statement?  I have to say, on this I agree with Natalia, while the metrics are subjective, I can't think of a scenario where I would say that no one qualifies as great, especially within the context of the time they created their work in.

Mar 05 14 07:00 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Dan OMell
Posts: 1,335
Ufa, Bashkortostan, Russia


Natalia_Taffarel wrote:
Rules haven't changed since Leonardo da Vinci.
What rules you speak of?

+1000

Mar 05 14 07:00 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jean Renard Photography
Posts: 2,050
Los Angeles, California, US


Natalia_Taffarel wrote:

Rules haven't changed since Leonardo da Vinci.

What rules you speak of?

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

― Pablo Picasso

Da Vinci was painting and rules certainly did change in painting more specifically in what was acceptable in composition, lighting and all manner of things.  When the impressionists came around they were spat on, cubism in painting did not follow perspective or compositional "rules" nor is the work of Escher or , moving into photography things changed a bit as the ability to capture something depended on some technical rules being followed.  Now with digital, I have been working in the 3d space and many paradigms need to be revisited as far as creating an immersive environment for the viewer to experience.

In the end it still comes to the ability of the artist or photographer to create something they were after all along and being able to consistently do so.

Rule breaking was an important part of music growth too.  With all that said,following or breaking rules does not create greatness, but one's ability to bring a product forth that one is happy with is great.

Mar 05 14 07:14 pm  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Photographer
Giacomo Cirrincioni
Posts: 21,241
New York, New York, US


Giacomo Cirrincioni wrote:
"A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know."
~ Diane Arbus

Zack Zoll wrote:
I hate this sentence ... not because it's a bad statement, but because so many artist statements are based around this quote.  Which is why I based my artist statement around this quote.

The implication of the statement is that if a photograph is too descriptive, too obvious, that it cannot be interesting.  If you think of photographs as films, a photograph that 'tells more' is a documentary.  It says what it says, and it tells you what conclusions to reach.  And I love documentaries, but the only "thought provoking" they do is the ideas that they feed you.

An image that tells less would be a mystery, or a more experimental film.  Something like Rear Window, Lost Highway, or Inception.  The image gives you a chance to jump to conclusions(and maybe be wrong), which makes the viewer invest more heavily into it.

The reason I hate Arbus' quote isn't because she's wrong - she's completely right.  I hate it because it has become such a common idea, that it dilutes all meaning.  People say that they like images that, "tell a story," but 99% of those images DON'T tell a story.  They just have a gap where a narrative could go.  Most images
'tell a story' like Stephen Tyler uses symbolism in Aerosmith lyrics:  just throw a bunch of metaphors out there, and something is bound to stick with someone and make them think like you planned it.

I think these days, to really do what Arbus meant - to give the viewer something to think about - you need to tell more.  You need to explain it all, and explain it in such a way that the viewer ends up thinking the wrong thing.  Back to films, look at Exit Through the Gift Shop.  That was a documentary, and it told everything.  But it was total BS.  Or maybe it wasn't.  Or maybe it was.  The viewer had all the information, but at the end of the film, doesn't know how much of it is true.  That provokes thought, by subverting the idea of truth.

I'm also a fan of documentaries.  I think if you look back to those made, pre-1990 you'll see many that were less obvious in their bias.  And of course it depends on what kind of documentary we're talking about - there is a world of difference between, say, The Thin Blue Line and something airing on the History Chanel.  But I don't want to get too far from the main point, which is resolution for the viewer.  I will say that the further you get from cinema verite, the more I agree with you.

If an image resolves too neatly, if it tells the story too completely, it doesn't invite further involvement.  A still photo is different from a film.  It can't have the full breadth of narrative that something that works over time can.  In some cases it can involve classical storytelling techniques (conflict/resolution).  In a still image, the conflict can exist between characters, in a classical sense, between the subject[s] and the viewer, or, as in the case of surrealism, between facets of reality.  And of course we can do this on multiple levels simultaneous levels at varying degree of subtlety, right?  Or an image might be fairly simple, yet with enough complexity that it raises questions with the viewer, even if the question is just "what the fuck is going on?"

You could say the "Aerosmith Paradigm" (I love that, btw) is in a way an application of Barthe's "punctum", no?

Mar 05 14 07:21 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Leighthenubian
Posts: 2,851
Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Giacomo Cirrincioni wrote:

Care to expand upon or defend that position?

All you have to do is crack a book once in awhile. I'm not here to educate you on history.

Mar 05 14 07:25 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Steve Korn
Posts: 328
Seattle, Washington, US


I don't agree with any of it.

If you try to define it, you're missing the point or wasting energy.

Applying rules to art is pointless.  Artists do what they do, seek what they seek because they are compelled to.

Whether you like it or not is irrelevant, it is honest or it is not.

Spend less time defining and more time doing.  Find your process and worry less about the process of others, unless you simply want to achieve their result.

It is fine to look to others to help solve a technical problem, but ultimately the technique is in service to the artists vision.
Mar 05 14 07:28 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Eyesso
Posts: 751
Ormond Beach, Florida, US


A great photographer is a photographer that makes great & memorable pictures, consistently.
Mar 05 14 07:29 pm  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Photographer
Giacomo Cirrincioni
Posts: 21,241
New York, New York, US


Giacomo Cirrincioni wrote:
Care to expand upon or defend that position?

Leighthenubian wrote:
All you have to do is crack a book once in awhile. I'm not here to educate you on history.

Why the hostility?  You made a point as it relates to a discussion on photographic art.  Either you want to be a part of that discussion, in which case, I invited you to explain your point of view more fully so that it could be discussed, or you're just trolling and being rude. 

So, let's try again, what facets of what Natalia presented do you feel are no longer relevant and why?

Mar 05 14 07:31 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
BlueMoonPics
Posts: 4,335
New York, New York, US


*raises hand*
I know, I know...
A great camera.
big_smile
Mar 05 14 07:36 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Zack Zoll
Posts: 2,479
Glens Falls, New York, US


Natalia_Taffarel wrote:
Rules haven't changed since Leonardo da Vinci.

What rules you speak of?

Natalia_Taffarel wrote:
You need better references then

Your words are the most fitting answer.

At first(before permanent prints), the camera was a drawing tool.  A "great" photographer would be the one that used it best to produce sketches that could later be painted over, or used as references for paintings.

Once the image could be fixed, the camera was used as a low-cost alternative to painted portraits, and for documentation.  There was no "great" documentation ... you photographed something correctly, or you didn't.  So the only "great" photographers were the ones that made their subjects look rich and important.

Until the early 1900s, almost everyone(including photographers) thought that the role of photography was to be a cheaper, easier form of painting.  If it didn't look like a painting, you weren't a great photographer.  Look at Julia Margaret Cameron.

Then painting said, "Fuck this, let's do some stuff they can't copy" in the beginning of the century.  At that point, photography began to act like photography for once.  The printed image had been around for 70 years, and people were finally treating it like something other than a knockoff of painting.

Postwar Japanese photography, and in the West the work of Alexi Brodovich - both as an artist and as editor of Harper's Bazaar - made it perfectly acceptable to show work that was too contrasty, grainy, out of focus, or otherwise 'wrong.'

After Robert Frank's The Americans came out, EVERYBODY was a street photographer.  If you were making stuff like Weston or Ansel Adams between 1950 and 1975, then nobody gave a shit about you.  Exceptions of course being people who were actually named Weston and Adams.  If that wasn't your last name, then you weren't "making photographs" - you were doing studies and practicing your lighting and exposure, and nobody wanted to see your practice.

Mid-70s, you could finally use colour.  It had existed for decades, but as the director of NY MoMA, John Szarkowski pushed it so hard that it was okay now.

After Nan Goldin, showing snapshots became perfectly acceptable.

I can't cite a reference, but sometime in the 90s artists began to work with found photographs, and put work together from old images they found at a yard sale or some such.

A popular trend now is to show boring pictures of nothing.  Gursky's Rhine II is the most obvious example.

Another popular trend is to mine Google Street View for images, such as with Doug Rickard's A New American Picture.

Each one of those things represents a drastic and immediate change in "what photography is", and how we - even photographers - think about photography, and what it "can" and "cannot" do.

The rules have changed many times.

Don't say that they haven't, just because you don't know enough to know about what went on.  The fact that you don't know how the rules have changed does NOT mean that the rules have never changed.

It means that you need some references.

Mar 05 14 07:38 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Zack Zoll
Posts: 2,479
Glens Falls, New York, US


Giacomo Cirrincioni wrote:
I'm also a fan of documentaries.  I think if you look back to those made, pre-1990 you'll see many that were less obvious in their bias.  And of course it depends on what kind of documentary we're talking about - there is a world of difference between, say, The Thin Blue Line and something airing on the History Chanel.  But I don't want to get too far from the main point, which is resolution for the viewer. 

If an image resolves too neatly, if it tells the story too completely, it doesn't invite further involvement.  A still photo is different from a film.  It can't have the full breadth of narrative that something that works over time can.  In some cases it can involve classical storytelling techniques (conflict/resolution).  In a still image, the conflict can exist between characters, in a classical sense, between the subject[s] and the viewer, or, as in the case of surrealism, between facets of reality.  And of course we can do this on multiple levels simultaneous levels at varying degree of subtlety, right?  Or an image might be fairly simple, yet with enough complexity that it raises questions with the viewer, even if the question is just "what the fuck is going on?"

I agree, up to a point.  A single photograph is different from a film, and lacks all the things you mention.  But a series of photographs is a silent film, with the text bits edited out.

Not that every series of photographs is a narrative, mind you.  But it could be.  And like a film, it can be clear and descriptive, or it can be confusing as hell.  I'm a fan of Ralph Gibson; his books remind me of David Lynch films.  You can work out a basic feeling, and you have some idea of what the plot might be, but it basically comes down to a series of weird shit that gets put in front of you, and you're filling in the blanks.

The problem lies in telling too little - being too much of a 'secret about a secret.'  I mentioned the trend to photograph essentially nothing ... imagine a book of images like Rhine II  What's the point?  Sure there's plenty of room for interpretation, but you haven't given me anything to interpret.  Unless I'm supposed to view the work as, 'the world after the Zombie outbreak,' then showing me lots of desolate landscapes doesn't mean shit - and that's what's cool these days.

It worked for Michael Schmidt, because he was(is) photographing Berlin, and the isolation and desolation was part of the work.  But there are thousands of SVA grads out there that show you nothing, and then fall back on the Arbus quote.

Giacomo Cirrincioni wrote:
You could say the "Aerosmith Paradigm" (I love that, btw) is in a way an application of Barthe's "punctum", no?

I'd say it's an overapplication.  Keep adding stuff until the song just bleeds meaning, man!

I guess the photographic equivalent would be Jeff Wall.  That guy REALLY needs to stop adding so much shit to his photos.

Mar 05 14 07:54 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
TJ Photo
Posts: 84
Pomona, California, US


The original definition is mostly circular, irrelevant or inadequate.  It says a great photographer is one who "can create a great image", but the statements never define greatness. Your weak definition then lists some of the technical qualities we might look for in an appealing photograph but by themselves they don't make it "great".  Then, even more vague, it says the photographer has "something to convey" and does this "intentionally".  Almost everyone taking photos here or in the wide world intends to convey something, and has "something to say", which could be banal or profound. 

Tell us who you think is "great" and specifically why they're great, then the debate might get more exact and meaningful.  If we say that a great photograph expresses the deepest or most profound human emotions and ideas in a unique way that far surpasses any common visual expression on the same theme, that might get close. Or we could say that a great photograph, like a great work of art, is inexhaustible in the way it expresses more ideas and feelings each time we come back to it, that adds even more to the definition.  But your original definition tells us virtually nothing to explain what constitutes a truly great photograph, much less a great photographer who makes such images.
Mar 05 14 08:07 pm  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Photographer
Giacomo Cirrincioni
Posts: 21,241
New York, New York, US


Giacomo Cirrincioni wrote:
You could say the "Aerosmith Paradigm" (I love that, btw) is in a way an application of Barthe's "punctum", no?

Zack Zoll wrote:
I'd say it's an overapplication.  Keep adding stuff until the song just bleeds meaning, man!

I guess the photographic equivalent would be Jeff Wall.  That guy REALLY needs to stop adding so much shit to his photos.

I didn't quote the first part of your post because I'm in complete agreement with it, so it seemed to be redundant.

Regarding this part.  I agree that Barthe was not talking about throwing a bunch of stuff against a wall to see what stuck, but the whole point of the punctum was that it was something that was (or at least could be) unique the viewer, something that the photographer might have intended, but that certainly wasn't a prerequisite.  It was that part of the Aerosmith Paradigm that I was alluding to.

Once you get into post-modernism, I'm probably not the guy to weigh in too heavily (unless it's more of a debate) as I'm pretty firmly a modernist.

Mar 05 14 08:11 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Al Lock Photography
Posts: 15,844
Bangkok, Bangkok, Thailand


Darryl Varner wrote:
Actually, I don't believe a 'great' photographer can be defined by his/her contemporaries. We can certainly pick artists whom we admire, would like to emulate, etc. but history judges greatness.

Well said.

Mar 05 14 09:50 pm  Link  Quote 
Retoucher
Natalia_Taffarel
Posts: 7,665
Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina


Zack Zoll wrote:
The rules have changed many times.

Trends have changed, the rules for creating great imagery.

Painting / photography / Video

Are all the same. Timeless and universal

Mar 05 14 10:34 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
GNapp Studios
Posts: 6,205
Somerville, New Jersey, US


A great photographer is one who can land you as a partner.
Mar 05 14 10:39 pm  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Photographer
CHAD ALAN
Posts: 3,502
Los Angeles, California, US


The "greatness" of a photographer, is fueled by the audience viewing their work.

A great photographer can produce images that captivate many generations, across cultures and social classes.

90% of that greatness, comes before the shutter button is depressed.
Mar 05 14 11:03 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Zack Zoll
Posts: 2,479
Glens Falls, New York, US


Giacomo Cirrincioni wrote:
I didn't quote the first part of your post because I'm in complete agreement with it, so it seemed to be redundant.

Regarding this part.  I agree that Barthe was not talking about throwing a bunch of stuff against a wall to see what stuck, but the whole point of the punctum was that it was something that was (or at least could be) unique the viewer, something that the photographer might have intended, but that certainly wasn't a prerequisite.  It was that part of the Aerosmith Paradigm that I was alluding to.

Once you get into post-modernism, I'm probably not the guy to weigh in too heavily (unless it's more of a debate) as I'm pretty firmly a modernist.

That makes sense.  It's been a while since I read Barthes - I'm probably due for a checkup.  But if memory serves me correctly, I would say that the 'proper' use of the punctum is for it to have enough 'breathing room' that it is noticeable .... maybe it's not the subject - as you say, it may not have been intentional.  It might be some cafe in the background where the viewer went on his first date with his wife, so now that's one of his favourite images.

I think that the Aerosmith Paradigm fits Barthes' punctum(again, assuming I'm remembering it correctly) almost by default; if you cram enough references in, something will connect with the listener.

You could also call it the Tom Waits Paradigm, except that I like Tom Waits.  Less mixing of metaphors smile

Natalia_Taffarel wrote:
Trends have changed, the rules for creating great imagery.

Painting / photography / Video

Are all the same. Timeless and universal

The rules for all three of your examples have changed drastically.  If the rules never changed, then photography would not be an art form, as the "correct" application would still be to mimic portrait painting, but with all the subjects in the middle.

Look, I can come up with all the examples you want.  For instance, the 'rules of composition' didn't even exist in Western art between the fall of Greece and the Renaissance, and it wasn't until the Renaissance was petering out that they became as we know them today.  Rule of thirds?  That's not how you do it - all compositions should follow the Golden Ratio, in an ever-shrinking spiral.  But hey, now we use the rule of thirds.  Somebody made that shit up, and over time it was accepted as The Way It Always Was.

I could go on, but I get the feeling that you're hearing none of it.  So I'll just say that the idea that an artistic media sprung to life fully formed and matured, like Athena from the head of Zeus(sorry, thinking Greek now:) ) is ridiculous.  It is a testament to how well the various "rules" of art work that we accept them as having always been there.  But they have not.

Mar 05 14 11:41 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
WIP
Posts: 15,425
Cheltenham, England, United Kingdom


Impressionists broke the rules and many other movements in art as with photography.

There are no rules just great or not so great images. Better word being 'iconic' images.
Mar 06 14 02:34 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
fullmetalphotographer
Posts: 2,760
Fresno, California, US


Natalia_Taffarel wrote:
https://scontent-a-lga.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/l/t1/1601000_10152116959181107_1287915071_n.jpg

What's a Great Photographer for you?

Here are three quotes that I think makes up a great photographer

"Learn the principle, abide by the principle, and dissolve the principle. In short, enter a mold without being caged in it. Obey the principle without being bound by it." - Bruce Lee

I think this is one the best expressions of how to use the rules and guidelines of photography. Once I understood this then the elements of photography came together like a musical piece.


If Your Pictures Aren’t Good Enough, You’re Not Close Enough - Robert Capa


I guess it is the photojournalist in me, but when I find my images are not connecting then I get closer to the subject, figuratively and often physically.


Do you remember the first time you walked? No. So you weren't conscious of it. Then why did you walk? Everyone was born knowing how to walk. It's called instinct.
- Yoruichi Shihouin


You can't forget this part. Sometimes you have to shoot from the hip or go with that gut feeling.

Mar 06 14 03:07 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
MMDesign
Posts: 18,647
Louisville, Kentucky, US


Giacomo Cirrincioni wrote:

I don't know... 

Let's ask him!

YO! MM!

Could you expand on your statement?  I have to say, on this I agree with Natalia, while the metrics are subjective, I can't think of a scenario where I would say that no one qualifies as great, especially within the context of the time they created their work in.

Sorry, the internet went down last night and so I went and picked up a great book.  smile

I probably should have worded that differently. My problem was more with the connotation of the word "great". Then I looked up the literal meaning and decided that it wasn't that bad.

I more attribute that word to the work though, as in, "He/She has produced a great body of work." I don't necessarily believe that that makes the photographer(s) great. I realize I'm arguing semantics here but (and here's where I'll get crucified), I find it hard to bestow greatness on someone who pushes a button.

And yet, on numerous occasions, I have referred to certain photographers as great. So I could just as easily argue the other side here and dig a much deeper hole than I have already when what I should be doing is lamenting the original post that required this rambling retort.

No offense intended to any photographers, living or deceased.  smile

Mar 06 14 03:46 am  Link  Quote 
Retoucher
Natalia_Taffarel
Posts: 7,665
Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina


Zack Zoll wrote:
Rule of thirds?  That's not how you do it - all compositions should follow the Golden Ratio, in an ever-shrinking spiral.  But hey, now we use the rule of thirds.

Rule of thirds is an approximation, the eye got used to it because of the difference in aspect ratio, not a lot of output allows it. That doesn't mean something changed.

GR still produces an activation pattern in the objective part of the brain (also in the subjective/emotional value, but this will change will cultures, there for the rule of thirds would also activate this part, but only this one smile )

MMDesign wrote:
I find it hard to bestow greatness on someone who pushes a button.

Completely disagree with every part of that statement.
A photographer CREATES an image, doesn't just "take" it.

Mar 06 14 04:31 am  Link  Quote 
Retoucher
Natalia_Taffarel
Posts: 7,665
Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina


The Something Guy wrote:
Impressionists broke the rules and many other movements in art as with photography.

There are no rules just great or not so great images. Better word being 'iconic' images.

Or how Kant would call it, the beautiful and the sublime.

Impressionism only broke social rules (source of subject matter), those are certainly not the rules I mean.

Mar 06 14 04:37 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
MMDesign
Posts: 18,647
Louisville, Kentucky, US


Natalia_Taffarel wrote:

Zack Zoll wrote:
Rule of thirds?  That's not how you do it - all compositions should follow the Golden Ratio, in an ever-shrinking spiral.  But hey, now we use the rule of thirds.

Rule of thirds is an approximation, the eye got used to it because of the difference in aspect ratio, not a lot of output allows it. That doesn't mean something changed.

GR still produces an activation pattern in the objective part of the brain (also in the subjective/emotional value, but this will change will cultures, there for the rule of thirds would also activate this part, but only this one smile )


Completely disagree with every part of that statement.
A photographer CREATES an image, doesn't just "take" it.

Explain to me how Bresson "created" all of those photographs.

Mar 06 14 04:39 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Wolfy4u
Posts: 1,096
Grand Junction, Colorado, US


I would have to disagree with the premise of this thread. The technical aspects would probably be present, but not always. Genius can sometimes be devoid of knowledge and/or technique.
A true great photographer is one who can tell a story in one image that connects with the viewer in a truly unique way that is riveting and memorable. His/her images will usually involve a way of looking at things in a new and fresh way. It might or might not involve superior technique.
Mar 06 14 05:11 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Mike Collins
Posts: 1,852
Orlando, Florida, US


fullmetalphotographer wrote:
Do you remember the first time you walked? No. So you weren't conscious of it. Then why did you walk? Everyone was born knowing how to walk. It's called instinct.
- Yoruichi Shihouin


You can't forget this part. Sometimes you have to shoot from the hip or go with that gut feeling.

Actually, humans have no "instincts".  We learn things by observation.  If we saw no one or was encouraged by another to walk upright, we wouldn't.  We are born with the ability to walk but we still have to observe and then learn it.  Just like everything else we do.  Besides breathing, eating and sleeping.  But those are functions and not instincts.

Mar 06 14 05:40 am  Link  Quote 
Retoucher
Natalia_Taffarel
Posts: 7,665
Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina


MMDesign wrote:
Explain to me how Bresson "created" all of those photographs.

Well... I wasn't lucky enough to met Bresson but I was lucky to met Steve McCurry and when confronted with the question about color theory and how you can change your surrounding when you're a photo journalist, he replied with a story.

Once there was an interesting woman, he liked her expression and clothing/make up but she didn't fit where she was (photographically) so he followed her around for 6 hours until he was able to get her in the right color palette: "There was something about the light in that door, the tones, the shadows, everything worked"

He MADE the image.

Wolfy4u wrote:
Genius can sometimes be devoid of knowledge and/or technique.

We completely disagree
Not all knowledge is consciously learnt.  Most of it isn't actually.
I'm writing about just that.
https://www.facebook.com/notes/natalia- … 2088259965

Mar 06 14 05:45 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
MMDesign
Posts: 18,647
Louisville, Kentucky, US


My list of "great" photographers contains very, very few who shoot color.
Mar 06 14 05:49 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Zack Zoll
Posts: 2,479
Glens Falls, New York, US


MMDesign wrote:
My list of "great" photographers contains very, very few who shoot color.

Agreed, and most of the ones that do are contemporary - at least on my list.

Natalia_Taffarel wrote:
Rule of thirds is an approximation, the eye got used to it because of the difference in aspect

'Getting used to something' means that once it wasn't there, and then it was.  Can you explain to me how one can 'get used to the rule of thirds' if it was never a 'new' rule?

Like I said, you're clearly not interested in hearing competing opinions.  I would recommend you stick to your blogging, rather than using a forum where people might call you out.

Mar 06 14 06:33 am  Link  Quote 
first123456last   Search   Reply