David Bailey is a British photographer who made a name for himself photographing fashion in the 1960s. Along with fellow photographers,Terence Donovan and Brian Duffy he helped create the whole ’60s Swinging London’ thing. He worked for Vogue at the time. To the best of my recollection he was probably the first British photographer to become a household name – this was as much due to an advertising campaign for the Olympus Trip camera as his work with the fashion industry.
David Bailey is probably my favorite photographer to watch and listen to. He is extremely unpretentious, doesn’t filter his views for mass consumption (at least as far as I can tell) and, perhaps most importantly, says really interesting stuff – not just about photography but about art in general (he also paints) and just about any other subject. Read more »
Yesterday while I was practicing work avoidance researching a topic, I came across a video of a short presentation by Zack Arias that I hadn’t seen before. In it he talks about another short video that he made several years ago . The original video changed my relationship to my own photography. I don’t want to give to much away as I don’t want to dilute the impact of the video if you haven’t seen it before. I will say though, that if ever you have hit the creative wall or more seriously perhaps, suffer from depression or Seasonal Associative disorder (SAD) then this is a must watch. Actually scrap that last sentence – if you’ve ever picked up a camera or been involved with the visual arts then this is a must watch.
I am posting both the original video as I think that it is best viewed without context or explanation first then the second which contains the first video in its entirety bookended by Zack Arias recounted the story behind it. The second video is a light, fun watch. If you have never heard of him (unlikely I suspect) or have no clue what I’m going on about then watch the first one before the second one – just trust me on this.
This was a question posed to me by Aamir Shahzad over on Google+. To be strictly honest it was a question posed a long time ago that I forgot to answer – apologies Aamir. Anyway I figured that the answer may possibly be of interest to others so I’m posting the answer. Aamir also asked me about contemporary photographers that influence me.
What Makes a Good Abstract Photograph?
It is almost impossible to say other than within the context of what the photographer or artist wants to say so you’d have to have some notes from the artist. An abstract work can be pleasing to the eye in which case it works on a decorative level but this may or may not have been the photographers intention.
with representative (figurative) work it is easier to judge as it is possible to see whether the exposure, focal distance, and other technical aspects are mastered but even here it is not always possible to judge – the photographer may have deliberately blurred the main object in a scene to disorientate the viewer or made a composition deliberately uncomfortable as is the case with film noir.
Now there are different levels of abstraction that fall somewhere between the completely unrecognizable and the completely figurative, i.e. some elements in an image may be recognizable (figurative) whereas others are not due to such techniques as blurring, clipping blacks or blowing out lighter tones. I think that it is possible to assess these images – or at least to make a stab at it as these images are generally made with normal aesthetic conventions in mind. In other words the photographers intent is to produce a good image by fairly conventional standards. Read more »
Pictorialism vs Modernism; Two important schools of photographic thought.
Pictorialism vs Modernism
The act of taking a photograph involves many decisions. The best way to frame the image and whether to have a blurred or sharp background are just two examples of decisions that must be made. The ability to make these decisions well comes from both and understanding of composition and a sound technical knowledge. This much is common sense.
There is another consideration that can play a huge part in understanding photography and that is the historical and philosophical. Pictorialism and Modernism were the two opposing philosophies that dominated photography from its inception until the 1940s. I think that these two schools of thought underpin most photography, whether the individual photographer realizes it or not. There is some experimental and conceptual work that goes beyond these two schools but the percentage is small.
The more that I look into the history and the philosophy of photography and try to apply what I learn, the more it always seems to come back to the relationship between Modernism and Pictorialism.
I don’t want to give long descriptions of Modernism or Pictorialism here. For the purpose of this post though I’ll use very simple working definitions. These definitions are as follows: Read more »
This is an example of an exercise that I do if I feel that I’m in a bit of a rut or if I have a bit of time to kill.
Rather than randomly waving the camera at stuff and firing the shutter I set myself a theme and a time limit. In this case the theme was circles and dots and my self imposed time limits were 15 minutes for shooting and 10 minutes for editing. I had no preconceived number of images in mind.
The theme can be anything fairly abstract., e.g. lines, surfaces, the color purple etc. I find that the process doesn’t work as well if specific objects or sets of objects are named such as say, flatware, items of clothing or clocks. To get even more specific I think that ball would be a bad subject choice but sphere would be a good one. The former closes the subject down while the latter opens it up.
The idea of the exercise isn’t to produce breathtaking photographs but rather to loosen up the mental muscles and hopefully to see our surroundings with a fresh eye. Speaking personally, I find that if I am thinking in terms of an abstraction my inner critic gives me a bit of time off. To put it another way, I am much more likely to work a scene than to reject it as boring or overdone. Setting out to produce several images rather than just one final photograph also has a loosening up effect. I am not sure why this should be.
Just click on any of the thumbnails to see a much larger version (will open on this page and in this window).
'Breaking down the many overwhelming aspects and complications of photography, this book manages to focus on what is most relevant in true photographic creation. The Minimalist Photographer touches on all of the key components of authentic photography in an easy to digest and extremely helpful manner.'
-Photo.Net best photography books of 2013
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