On missing the point.

I was browsing the student forums this morning and there were a couple of discussions ongoing in the photography forum that were both lively and informative.  One of the contributors on a thread called missing the point asked about some of the books on the reading list and said;

I know I’m not very far into the list yet, but the two books I have managed are giving me concern that I’m missing the point somewhere”  They went on to say “I can’t see what others apparently see in the images!  I can’t see how the majority of them are acclaimed as being representative of the best that the style and genre has to offer. In fact I think what I’m saying is, I can’t understand how the styles and genres have collected the following they apparently have, and the exhibitions that seem to have attracted thousands to view.  They appear to be very mundane.”

I can recognise the sentiment about both the books and also about some of the great photographs out there.  Its a very good question too and I want to put my own thoughts down about it.  In the past I would have reacted quite strongly against some of the work out there held up as great.  I based what I thought about an image on whether I liked or disliked it.  Now I find I am more interested in why I don’t like it, I no longer dismiss something on the basis of not enjoying  looking at it.  After all I don’t produce work anymore for the enjoyment of others so why should anybody else?  Any reaction to a photograph is valid and its the reaction that can set off the flood of questions that can lead to ideas.  On reading books too, I sometimes run out of steam with a book on the reading list.  Now I treat them as reference material.  My concentration is limited and I try in as much as I can to use it to produce my own work and ideas.  I can usually find something in them that I can draw on, or something that makes me question myself inside whether its in terms of my own work or in terms of looking at the work of others.  Sometimes I don’t realise that the question is niggling away inside and the change is gradually taking place.  It does seem to me though that the response that leads one nowhere is one of ‘thats crap!’  this doesn’t lead anywhere as its a closed response and there can be no dialogue either internally or externally and that does not lead to any growth.

I was really impressed with Jose’s contribution to the converstaion that I reproduce below:

 “Perhaps what you are missing is the fact that it is precisely trying to understand images we wouldn’t normally pay attention to that we expand our photographic knowledge. Whether that’s images that we deem too mundane or images that do not belong to a genre we are interested in, those are the photographs that challenge and stretch us. It’s part of the learning journey after all.

There was also a very heated discussion on post-modernism that I wanted to comment on but unfortunately it seems to have been removed.


About briancooney123

HOW I GOT HERE Of course, I wasn’t always a full time photographer. I spent a lot of time in the corporate world. I had a job which paid well, but just didn’t excite me. I remember the day when I had had enough. Enough of selling myself short, enough of dreaming too small, enough of doing what others expected of me. I had put away my dreams and told myself I would get back to them later, but somehow there always seemed to be something else that had to get done first. A friend of mine had recommended I take the NLP Business Practitioners course, and although I was really busy, I decided to do it. During that time, I began to imagine the different paths my life could take from here. While I had a hazy picture of what this other life might look like, I had a clear picture of where my current life was going if I didn’t change. It was a scary moment, a bit like standing on the edge of a cliff deciding whether to jump into the great unknown or stay on the cliff, safe but trapped. I jumped. The transition to the life I wanted was challenging The transition to the life I wanted was challenging but I would never go back. After that day I resolved to do what I love, to follow my bliss.  Picking up a camera after several years away, I found that many things had changed, the digital age had arrived. In the intervening years, I was too busy to pay any attention to my photography, and occasionally when I took something I really liked, I would think “how do some photographs seem so captivating and others leave me completely cold?” I knew this is what I was meant to do Somehow though, I knew this is what I was meant to do. I dedicated myself to learning everything I could about being a photographer. I took many, many courses and I read every book I could get my hands on, I still do. Since then, I have dedicated myself to helping other creative photographers achieve the results they want. And what a journey it has been. Last year I qualified as a coach. My main area of interest is creativity and helping others to express their vision. WHAT I BELIEVE Along the way, I’ve learnt that there are no rules. Experiment, explore, play. My advice is to make your art from your heart, not for the praise or the money.  Lighten up. It’s important to take your photography seriously, but it's a mistake to take yourself too seriously. Finally, you get what you want when you never, ever give up so enjoy every minute of it and just do it!
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