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This blog is intended to showcase my pictures or those of other photographers who have moved beyond the pretty picture and for whom photography is more than entertainment - photography that aims at being true, not at being beautiful because what is true is most often beautiful..

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« civilized ku # 52 ~ What? # 3 | Main | urban ku # 95 ~ what? »

urban ku # 96 ~ what? # 2

A pile of aluminum boatsclick to embiggen
In the medium of photography, in which a picture is inexorably linked with that which it depicts, how does one set aside subject matter?

I believe it is near impossible to do so, especially so re: the discussion referenced in yesterday's entry, straight photography. It is pretty much a given that photographers toiling in the "straight" vernacular by and large make pictures in a straight-forward manner - pictures in which the photographer's hand is well hidden. They point their camera at the thing(s) they wish to denote and, in a sense, let "Kodak do the rest".

I have always operated on the assumption that the photographer pointed his camera at a thing(s) that he/she wanted me to "see". Whether he/she wanted me to see it for its own denoted values/properties, or, whether he/she presents it as a visual vehicle that may transport me to a thing(s) un-seen, - IMO, the best pictures function on both levels - I don't see how the observer can set subject aside.

Maybe in the hollowed halls of academia, where the fetish of 'concept' reigns, subject can be (and is) set aside but isn't that what leads to the making of pictures that are mostly self-referential academic crap?

Reader Comments (3)

You may be slightly off in your interpretation. I think what he means is that aside from the physical subject being photographed, there's not a big difference in the way the photographer is viewing the world and presenting emotions and concepts. Same emptiness and ennui in mall parking lots and backyard BBQs.

August 17, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

I actually disagree fully with your comments. Your thoughts are smart and well articulated, and while I respect your sound thinking, I just plainly disagree. I am not part of an entrenched academic circle in any way, but I find that the most interesting images are interesting because they transcend their subject matter. What makes an image striking, I hope, is actually embedded in the composition and arrangement of forms and elements. I actually have always found it a hindrance that people so immediately clutch at the subject in an image.

It is a de facto reality that photography is subject and content intense, but only because viewers are trained to look at photographic images in that manner. Like any form of visual expression, photography can be effectively used for graphic and abstract imagery; in such cases, the subject is so secondary that the image may decieve the viewer at a content-level reading.

Many images focus on compositional shape and form for their content. Whether or not the viewer responds to it at that level poses a different problem, but that change will come in time if photographers devote enough energy to changing the craft and its use.

I respect your statements fully, and much enjoy reading your site.


William Kimmerle

August 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam J Kimmerle

I must respectfully disagree with your well-written ideas regarding photography.

I am constantly drawn to reading philosophical musings on the art of photography. I truly love reading other people's ideas. That is why I would like to offer my own ideas here.

While in one of my own ponderings, I was describing some photographic principles/theory/hot air to a painter friend of mine. We had just come from looking at various images at a couple of art galleries. Basically it boiled down to this: I find myself less interested in imagery where someone with a camera has found a subject of visual interest and rendered it plainly. This is, in effect, simply "pointing at" the subject. As a photographer, saying, "I liked the way this looked. Here, you look at it." I have coined a phrase for it: "plagiarizing nature."

It is not my intention to sound as though I am describing this approach as lazy, just not as interesting as other "conceptual" approaches. This "pointing at" style? of photography seems to be limited arbitrarily by the history of the medium. I get much more excited by new uses or approaches to image-making. Of course, two key points to follow that last statement: 1) just because it may be new, doesn't make it good 2) there is just as much bad work out there of this type as there is bad straight photography, maybe more.

I have rambled on enough for now I think. Perhaps this could be the start of an interesting conversation about the medium and its varied permutations.

Your thoughts?


Beau Comeaux

August 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBeau Comeaux

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