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| p.1 #5 · Are the "Greats" Still Relevant? |
Most of the aforementioned photographers are documentary photographers. For most of us here, a large portion of a wedding day is "PJ", unscripted, unposed (at least thats what many of your about sections say). And yet I see very little correlation in work to that of the 'greats'. AGAIN, THIS IS NOT A BAD THING. My observation is that the photography of yore is more thoughtful and cerebral (especially most of the work from the aforementioned photographers). Much of the photography I see today is really shallow and empty...vapid even.
I think all of this begs the question, are the greats relevant in today's photographic world? Why or why not? Am I off base? Are their techniques applicable to today's photography? Can the styles of the greats be sold to today's modern bride? Why dont we see more work that looks like the 'greats'?
Would love to hear your thoughts!
What about music? Is there a similar trend in music? You could reference the comparison of classical vs. modern music or even go back less than 100 years and find music that had more substance to the lyrics instead of the last 10-20 years of generally shallower subject material...
The fact is, people think differently and have different viewpoints than before. Nowadays trends are about efficiency, in-the-moment stuff, novelty, experimentation, edginess, and of course profitability...and though some of that hasn't changed, the way we go about satisfying those foci is very different because preferences are not the same. Our society uses much more instantaneous forms of media production now, and those forms often automatically determine many values and things that we used to have to manipulate/produce manually and carefully. The increased speed, automaticity and flexibility of modern equipment permits a lot of 1. laziness, 2. hasty action with little planning, 3. smaller knowledge base. The tools have made it much easier for people to generate satisfactory work in many aspects of life without understanding all the mechanics involved. It's the disposable society. Sociology has also analyzed the patterns in human behavior, e.g. baby boomers vs the most recent generations.
Before the calculator, we had only our minds and other non-digital implements to figure out mathematic equations, so our minds naturally had more practice and were more efficient at it. Just like before the internet, when we had to look numbers up in the phone book or write out routes to places by guidance from other people. Or before cameras went digital, when people had to use film...back when you developed your own film and learned the skills to alter it. That was more hands-on. Same for cameras that didn't have automatic metering, when people absolutely had to either use a separate meter or guess the exposure...people simply had more knowledge. Same for factory jobs which have been replaced by robotic equipment now...the skills became obsolete. However, it might not be an entirely bad thing...
The fact is, we have a kind of limited volume of information we can recall easily, because we only use and experience so much in a day and memory tends to fade with time. So, because we have forgotten or never knew many of the skills of less technologically modern versions of the same trade, in a way this allows our minds to be easily opened up and ready to be filled with the vast knowledge of new and modern techniques and ideas. By not filling our minds with all of the technical details of old methods, we don't get used to or stuck in the pattern of those old perceptions. Kind of like being brought up with computers vs. learning to integrate them into life after being used to old ways. It's much harder for most people to get used to the new stuff after they've become used to the old ways. Thoreau might agree within the first few pages of Walden.
As for old techniques that still apply today (e.g. photography rule of thirds, color perception and effects, balance between objects, geometry, etc.), this I believe is the really important stuff people miss. It's also the stuff people can't afford to miss.
For the record, I respect and like Monte Zucker's lighting and knowledge of posing, and I want to understand the logic he used for posing etc., but I don't care for the look of the very traditional poses used in his time. I also never have been able to appreciate Ansel Adams (landscapes of course) photos for the most part, although I'm sure a lot of work and effort went into projecting exactly what he wanted to show viewers. There are modern landscape photographers whose photos are much more striking and appealing to me.
Edited on Feb 15, 2013 at 08:04 PM · View previous versions