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Archive 2012 · The perfect quote...
  
 
Jewced
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · The perfect quote...


I just discovered some Ansel Adams' books in my family's collection. As soon as I opened one of them I found an amazing quote. I'm sure that some of you have heard it, and I think it fits the current state of photography perfectly even though it was written 3 decades ago: "Photography is in a period of development where means and methods sometimes hold unbalanced dominance over creative effort"

Just thought I'd share and start some discussion.



Jun 10, 2012 at 07:25 PM
douglasf13
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · The perfect quote...


That's particularly interesting coming from Mr. Adams, who is probably partly responsible for our obsession with means and methods.


Jun 10, 2012 at 08:09 PM
kwalsh
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · The perfect quote...


What Douglas said!

Of course he may be inadvertently responsible for that. Often when we try to follow great people we focus on the things we can easily imitate and repeat. Technique is pretty trivial and by wrote compared to creativity and so many students latch on to that to the exclusion of the broader goal. At the very least I know I've fallen into that trap more than once...

Galen Rowell had a funny story about running into an Adams class in Yosemite. He was young and more interested in the climbing the mountains than photographing them at the time and was bemused by how the students seemed to interact with Adams with almost divine reverence and yet apparent indifference to what he was actually saying.

Ken



Jun 10, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Tariq Gibran
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · The perfect quote...


Adams also said "There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs" as well as the famous "there is nothing worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept". I think many, particularly students, misunderstand exactly where he was coming from and simply become obsessed with his means and methods while loosing sight of the bigger picture. As a student (long ago of course), I always thought of someone like the Zen-ish Minor White as representing the opposite end of the spectrum as compared to Adams but technique was just as important to him as it was to Adams, and both were of course close friends and contemporaries.


Jun 11, 2012 at 12:34 AM
RCicala
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · The perfect quote...


The best quote of that type ever: "Our young men should spend more time considering the composition and merit of their images, and less time with magnifying glasses counting how many bricks and shingles they can resolve."

It's from a Paris newspaper article on Daguerrotype photography, from 1841.



Jun 11, 2012 at 12:52 AM
dasrocket
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · The perfect quote...


..Keep in mind that there were only means when Adams developed actual methods


Jun 11, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Tariq Gibran
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · The perfect quote...


^^^Hmm, don't know about that. Adams is famous, of course, for codifying his methods in the Zone System which eventually became understandable by a wider audience (which apparently took quite some time - many, many decades- due to poor editing, writing of early editions and so forth) but I think it would be na´ve to believe that most photographers before the Zone Systems existence did not develop their own methods of achieving accurate exposure and development to achieve their intended purposes or artistic vision.


Jun 11, 2012 at 02:27 AM
OneAnt
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · The perfect quote...


I watched another street tog yesterday ...for about 4 seconds.
He raised his dslr with one hand so that he could hold his drink in the other, without looking he shot the length of the street, spun round and did the same in the other direction then another of a busker and off he went. Many come into the city in groups and photograph each other and chase the pigeons. Its amazing everything is there and can be seen and while some things are harder to see than others ...they are not even looking.

I figure they like their cameras more than their pictures



Jun 11, 2012 at 02:31 AM
ukkisavosta
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · The perfect quote...


RCicala wrote:
The best quote of that type ever: "Our young men should spend more time considering the composition and merit of their images, and less time with magnifying glasses counting how many bricks and shingles they can resolve."

It's from a Paris newspaper article on Daguerrotype photography, from 1841.


Priceless.



Jun 11, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Beni
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · The perfect quote...


ukkisavosta wrote:
Priceless.


+1!



Jun 11, 2012 at 04:13 PM
 

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dasrocket
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · The perfect quote...


Tariq Gibran wrote:
^^^Hmm, don't know about that. Adams is famous, of course, for codifying his methods in the Zone System which eventually became understandable by a wider audience (which apparently took quite some time - many, many decades- due to poor editing, writing of early editions and so forth) but I think it would be na´ve to believe that most photographers before the Zone Systems existence did not develop their own methods of achieving accurate exposure and development to achieve their intended purposes or artistic vision.



Certainly people had their own ways of exposing properly, but what Adams did was draft a worksheet and that is what makes his a method; it becomes quantifiable and teachable to others.
For the same reason, Herodotus is considered the father of history, even though many others in his time knew what was going on.



Jun 11, 2012 at 09:38 PM
carstenw
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · The perfect quote...


Sure, but how many people throughout the years have made amazing photos with no zone system? Henri Cartier-Bresson, Edward Weston, Richard Avedon, the list never ends, many better photographers (IMO) than Adams, although I do also like his photographs a lot.

His method was great, but not a necessity.



Jun 11, 2012 at 09:49 PM
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · The perfect quote...


It's difficult to see where Adam's is coming from without getting caught on his apparent hypocrisy. I don't think Adams is "divine" and I've seen plenty of his images that I don't like. From what I gather, Adams was so interested in the technical aspects of photography because they were vital in his ability to convey what he saw. I think a lot of people now are obsessed with the technical quality of their gear because it allows them to see new things and "compensate" for their missing eye. That's obviously not true for everyone now, but in a lot of ways people now seem to do things "because they can" and not because they have a purpose.


Jun 11, 2012 at 10:44 PM
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · The perfect quote...


You could happily replace the words: 'sometimes hold' with: 'totally overwhelm and entrench'.

Adams' means and methods included an energetic and seemingly boundless pashion for self-promotion. Seeing his output, I think this quote was more self-referential than a comment on other practitioners of his day. Good for him - that's capitalism - and celebrity has a tremendous strike record over pure talent.

kwalsh, you may know it took Rowell the longest time to get his first pro assignment. Maybe he needed to listen to AA some more himself, and pick up a few PR tips, rather than photographing spectacular places AA never even heard of.



Jun 11, 2012 at 11:04 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · The perfect quote...


"Photography is in a period of development where means and methods sometimes hold unbalanced dominance over creative effort"



21st Century translation:

"I spend so much time obsessing over how I'm gonna perfect the damn thing in Photoshop, that I don't shoot like I used to."
RustyBug


Probably hits a little close to home for some of us.
My trip out West was good to get away from PS and be alone with just the camera for a while ... jpg/sooc is starting to sound good.

Old days were simply load up a roll of chrome & go. Drop off roll @ lab. Buy new roll. Repeat as often as possible.



Jun 12, 2012 at 12:19 AM
kwalsh
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · The perfect quote...


philip_pj wrote:
Adams' means and methods included an energetic and seemingly boundless pashion for self-promotion.


Yep, and I think this is true of probably every photographer whose name we actually know.


kwalsh, you may know it took Rowell the longest time to get his first pro assignment. Maybe he needed to listen to AA some more himself, and pick up a few PR tips, rather than photographing spectacular places AA never even heard of.


Most impressive to me of Rowell was beside (eventually) promoting himself he in many ways promoted a emerging genre of landscape photography (small format "adventure" photography for lack of a better term).

I always have a soft spot for both AA and Rowell because I enjoyed their writing so much when I was first trying to get "serious" about photography.

Ken



Jun 12, 2012 at 01:23 AM
carlitos
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · The perfect quote...


I think one must be a craftsman before one can be an artist. So, though I do think AA was a craftsman, he only approached art occassionally. Tools available today make being a craftsman so much easier, but being an artist is still difficult.

To paraphrase - "art is a harsh mistress".



Jun 12, 2012 at 04:08 PM
millsart
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · The perfect quote...


Nothing wrong with wanting to be a technical master of ones craft, as long as it is a means to an end, rather than the end itself.

If someone wants to test 10 different lens to find the sharpest one, more power to them. However, if one looks back and their photographic output is nothing more than just shots of brick walls, you do have to wonder what all the effort is for. It would be like wanting to design the perfect kitchen, with the best rated appliances made, and yet eating out every night.

Unless of course the actual point,and source of enjoyment is merely in the gear and the testing, in which case, I guess its not like its hurting anyone and more power to those people. They are after all a great source of mint condition used equipment for the rest of us



Jun 12, 2012 at 04:49 PM
FlyPenFly
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · The perfect quote...


Pretty much all the most notable and historic artists were master craftsman perhaps the best and most skilled of their day. They also happened to have grand vision.


Jun 12, 2012 at 06:18 PM
douglasf13
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · The perfect quote...


kwalsh wrote:
Yep, and I think this is true of probably every photographer whose name we actually know.

Ken


I'd say the same is true for most successful artists that I know or know of.



Jun 12, 2012 at 07:09 PM







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