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« FYI ~ the Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day | Main | urban ku # 57 in which I be thinkin' bout thinkin' »

urban ku # 58

A little piece of barkclick to embiggen
I have come to realize that I really loath the very idea of 'idealized forms'.

Think about it. How much of your life is spent admiring and pursuing 'idealized forms' - the perfect mate, the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood, the perfect car, the perfect clothes, the perfect vacation, the perfect camera, the perfect lens .... ? If I might be so bold as to suggest, what a perfect waste of time and creative energy.

Pictures of 'idealized forms' have always driven me batty. They get up under my skin and irritate the living hell out of me. I have frequently explained this agita in terms related to the pictures themselves - acting as an 'art critic'. The pictures were/are 'trite', 'cliched', 'sentimental', 'pretty', 'pandering to the lowest common denominator', etc. All of which, as far it went, was/is true.

But, I have come to understand consciously what I have always understood intuitively - that what really gnawed at my craw was/is the fact that most of the pictures which pissed me off had nothing to do with 'real' life. Most of the pictures, in fact, stood/stand in direct contrast to 'real' life.

In wallowing in the fields of "idealized forms', they refute and devalue the realities of everyday life.

You know the life I mean. The one which you live each and every day. The one with the dust balls under the bed with the sagging mattress. The one with toil and trouble. But, it is also the one with joy and happiness which comes from 'some things money can't buy' - things that can be experienced only by looking life square in the eye and, for lack of a better term, embracing and dealing with it.

Now, when it comes to picture making and picture viewing, many seem to think that pictures which depict 'real' life are somehow 'ugly' and 'depressing'. They fail to make even the slightest effort to find the beauty in truth. Better to escape into the realm and easily grasped false hope of 'idealized forms' than to 'work' at finding true hope in all which surrounds one's self.

Beauty in pictures is more than just what lies on the surface of the media.

That said, I have given the keys to the Guest Photographers Forum to many but it remains an under utilized asset here on The Landscapist. Where are the beautiful pictures, gang? Don't let Aaron's pictures intimidate you. Come on, get on board. If you have not been invited to post in the GPF but would like to participate, just send me an email.

BTW, today's picture is made with 4×5 Polaroid Type 59 film.

Reader Comments (15)

ahhh yes, but don't you sit at your monitor and post-process for hours attempting to get the "prefect" balance of light/shadow/color/detail/blur/et al...? or is it just me that does that? I think my images involve as much post-processing technique as a fine art painting. I'll take up to 3 hours processing one image...constantly adding a dash of burn there, a stroke of dodged hilight here, for a seemingly unreasonable amount of time...until my painting, I mean photograph "feels" right.

I wouldn't say your point is too extreme, but I would argue that there needs to be some element of "prefection", because if you didn't need any, you would simply be mailing me duplicates of your fantastic wegmans quality glossy 3x5's that you "snapped" of your trip last weekend...would you not?

April 25, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteraaron

Hey - don't confuse the pursuit of 'perfect' with the pursuit of 'excellence' - 2 very different things

April 25, 2007 | Unregistered Commentergravitas et nugalis


I do get the whole point about how the pursuit of perfection can "refute and devalue the realities of everyday life." and so on...but I guess I'm not getting how that relates to photography?

Isn't it OK (for some) to seek a perfect location?
Isn't it OK (for some) to seek perfect light?
Isn't it OK (for some) to seek the perfect subject?

I (for some), need these three examples...I can't just shoot a cinemascape out back of my office in direct noon sunlight with a snow leopard stalking me while I have 12 seconds to run into the shot.

So, I guess, unless you elaborate on the difference between excellence and perfection in Photography, I disagree.

April 25, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteraaron

strive for excellence in expressing ideas and visual content in your art - a very worthwhile endeavor in self-discovery/kowledge, but accept it now - you will never create a perfect picture.

April 25, 2007 | Unregistered Commentergravitas et nugalis

Instead of picking up the phone and debating about this with you that way (which I'm tempted to do), and not including everone... might I ask you then to elaborate on or point us in the direction of (the latter might be cruel to do) what you are talking about here:

"Pictures of 'idealized forms' have always driven me batty. The pictures were/are 'trite', 'cliched', 'sentimental', 'pretty', 'pandering to the lowest common denominator', etc."

April 25, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteraaron

If I'm understanding Mark's position correctly, it's that photographers seeking the PERFECT composition/light/subject often miss equally worthy images because they're overly distracted by their singular pursuit of what they narrowly define as "perfect"

I dunno know if that's correct, or not, but it's definitely something I've caught myself doing.


April 25, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterchuck kimmerle

addendum...should have written:

....distracted by their singular pursuit of what they, or the latest trend, narrowly define as "perfect"

April 25, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterchuck kimmerle

As for utilizing the Members Section, I was hoping to see some from others first, before deluging the area with mine.

April 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJim Jirka

good examples of vacuous, romanticized, pop-culture dreck

April 25, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteranonymous

Jeez, Mark, evertime I think you might be returning to some semblance of rationality, you go and post something like this. Can you hear yourself? What in heavens name does "reality" (whatever that term means to you personally) have to do with how I or anyone else makes photographs? If I don't choose to photograph small trees with the bark falling off, does that mean that I can't see the beauty in everday life? If "beauty" for me is found in the red cliffs of Zion National Park, does that in some way diminish my efforts? Am I refuting the reality of everday life if I choose to photograph there? Does such an image have absolutely no "meaning" because someone else shrugs it off as simply a pretty picture? What kind of arrogant nonsense is that?

I have no problem with those who wish to photograph "real life", just as I have no problem with authors who claim to write about "real life". But it's their version of reality, not mine. I don't go to Barnes and Noble to buy books about the grisly details of everday existence - I can see that on my own whenever I walk out the door. True, there is much in our daily lives that is joyful and priceless. And it's often worth capturing photographically. But it's not, in general, what inspires me and I certainly don't expect it to inspire anyone else.

So I guess we're back to the extreme post-modernist slant on life (the one you disavowed a few days ago). Too bad. You might want to reread your own "manifesto".

April 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Maxim

Hey anonymous. That link seems to be broken. It actually points to NPN, a close minded group of people, where the WOW factor is the goal, as it slaps the message in the viewers face. Yes, a nice pretty picture, and in 30 seconds I know the whole story, but after the first view really don't need to connect with it anymore. NPN used to be a very nice site, with informative articles that were thought provoking, by some very talented writers. But recently it has taken a turn for the worse. There were also some very talented photographers that frequented the site, providing some relief to the Galen Rowell school of photography, as described here, which ended up being driven away by the "open minded contingent". WOW is over rated, as is the constant ego masturbation when it comes to critiques. The site provides value to some, just not to me.

April 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJim Jirka

"photographers seeking the PERFECT composition/light/subject often miss equally worthy images because they're overly distracted by their singular pursuit of what they narrowly define as "perfect""

Fair enough....sometimes I forget where I am...The Landscapist...because if he meant photographers, as in ALL genres of photographers, I would still be arguing my case. But for landscape, or anything that involves natural elements I completely agree.

April 25, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteraaron

I agree with Jim about the guests section....if only 8 or 9 members posted just one photo a week...that would be great!

April 25, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteraaron

arggh...I wish I could edit my comment instead of post another...I meant that particular amount of photos as a ballpark example just to get things going...of course the more the better, but a few is better than none.

signed, aaron (argghh again...why am I guest photographer?)

April 25, 2007 | Registered CommenterGuest Photographer

I've got the login from Mark, and am going to add some new work this evening (IF my evening shoot does not go too long). Doesn't look like too difficult a task.

April 25, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterchuck kimmerle

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