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  1. #1
    Moderator Irakly Shanidze's Avatar
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    Angry Photography. Art or Crap?

    Hi Folks,
    The question about a place of photography in art has been debated since the first daggerotype was developed. In my opinion, the real problem of photography as a means of artistic expression is in its incredible popularity and seeming ease of achieving seemingly perfect results. In order to create a painting one needs to master a rather complicated technique and then spend hours actually painting. WIth photography it is easy, you just press a little button. Countless "artists" who do not put any effort into taking a photo other than pressing that little button do really undermine reputation of photography because they create a steady stream of substandard, mindless and simply boring photos that can tickle fancies only of those who took them.
    Many people seem to be interested more in technical aspects than in what photography is really about. Even here on Viewfinder ad other forums I see a lot of pictures that fall into a category of "look-at-the-test-shot-with-my-new-lens". Guys, gals, don't you see that IT IS JUST BLOODY BORING?????
    If you have ever been among real artists, you must know what I mean. People do not talk endlessly about their brushes or easels. They just do not! Why should we? People do not paint stuff like "This is me in front of a Buckingham Palace". Why should we? Are we any less creative?
    I wrote this because I am just so blarsted bored with pictures that I see here!!! You think photosig.com is any better? Wel, I'll tell you one thing, it sucks too. Let's do something... Let's have a gallery here that will blow peoples' minds away, let's not talk nonsense, but shoot creatively and share your works of ART.

  2. #2
    don't tase me, bro! Asylum Steve's Avatar
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    Thankfully, those aren't the only two choices...

    Irakly,

    I think I share your motivation as an artist, and agree with you on many points when it comes to photography as art. As I've said before, at this point in my career I almost think of myself as a painter, and work much the same way. I truely believe the analogy is a strong one.

    Still, I don't think it serves a positive purpose to generalize and severely criticize the members here by throwing a blanket "put down" on the entire body of work being posted as you've done.

    First of all, artistic vision is most often a gift, and those that don't have it outright from the start usually take quite a long time to develop it, if they do at all. This site is specifically tailored to beginners and less experienced shooters, certainly non-professionals, and I think it is pretty unfair to suddenly expect remarkable results from everyone and rant when you don't see them.

    People WITHOUT artistic vision have the right to share their work, too...

    Also, you are assuming that dynamic artistic statements and expressions should be the pinnacle and ultimate goals for EVERY photographer, when in fact that's something that each person has to decide for themselves.

    Truth is, many folks take pictures to relax, to have a lasting memory of something, to help them make sense of the world better, because they like the science of it, as a tax write-off, or simply to have a hobby. Often these motivations have nothing to do with art...

    Despite the lack of profound images on this site sometimes, I think the members are constantly challenging themselves by shooting to the best of their abilities, and more importantly, trying hard to learn so they can get better. IMO, that's all we have the right to ask of them...

    BTW, being immersed in the world of art, you of all people should realize that virtually ALL artisitc pursuits and media are in effect a "sea of mediocrity", IOW (just as you say about photography) 90% of all painting in the world is mediocre, 90% of all sculpture in the world is mediocre, 90% of all pottery, etc., etc., etc. That's what makes great art special and stand out so much...

    Look, I understand your frustration, and as I said, I agree with you in principle. It's just that you are never going to turn this site into something that looks like your web site. It is much better to embrace its real purpose: to nurture the excitement and fun and satisfaction of photography for as many people as possible, and let them decide how artistic to make the images.
    "Riding along on a carousel...tryin' to catch up to you..."

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  3. #3
    Faugh a' ballagh Sean Dempsey's Avatar
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    I like your post.

    But I don't think it's accurate.

    The most interesting part of photography for me IS the technical aspect, and I could talk tech all day. I am not an artist. I am not a professional. Lots of us aren't.

    Like Ghandi said, "Be the change you want in the world", don't add a post that is exaclty what you are saying we shouldn't add.

    Besides - Professionals don't use the internet, they are too busy taking photos. And I doubt artists every get together and stroke eachother over how profoud their art is - they artists I know talk about themselves... and what brushes they use.
    A good craftsman never blames his tools.

  4. #4
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    God if ART is that narrow minded, then I will just stick with what I do and be done with it.

    Photography to me, is capture moments in time that I can share with others, keep records of events and remember as I grow old.

    I think Artists take things too seriously most of the time hence why they end up, insane, kill themselves, totally isolated and probably never get to enjoy the fruits of their labour.

    Irakly I respect your ART but your comments are a bit over the top, not what I would have expected comming from you.

    Although I could also read these comments as trying to stimulate peoples thought processes as well, helping to stimulate maybe something different for a change as well.

  5. #5
    News & Rum-or-ator opus's Avatar
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    I'm an artist in a traditional way: charcoal and paper, pastels, lost-wax casting. I haven't worked hard to make my photography "art" yet. I'm still working on mastering technique so that when I do seriously turn my attention towards art, I get it right. But I have taken *some* great shots, and am looking forward to many more.

    As far as this site, I hope I'm not offending anyone by saying this, but this is not the forum I've chosen to show my "best" work. No one here has seen my best. Well, ok, I posted very small versions of 4 shots that are among my best. But I've reserved my Best shots to show In Person to people I see Face to Face. When I've accumulated enough, I'll show them in a Brick-and-Mortar Gallery. For as much of a computer/internet geek as I am, I'm not trusting my best to a medium I have so little control over.

    What I DO post here are experiments, new things I'm trying, I want to hear comments from people who are more experienced than I as to whether they think they work. I post fun things. I propose ideas and share my opinion. Just recently I tried something entirely new because of a thread here: photographing my body artistically. What fun! And I pushed my own envelope in terms of lighting and post-processing, working in new and experimental ways to get some interesting results.

    I never thought this would be an art site. In fact, when I first found this place I was afraid it would be all about equipment (photographyREVIEW.com). I'm very pleased with the great variety of ideas, equipment, talent, and subject matter I've been exposed to here.

    If you're truly bored here, there are other sites. DPChallenge.com is exclusively about artistic photography challenges, and if you win enough ribbons there then you can enter closed "Master Challenges". You might enjoy that.
    Drink Coffee. Do stupid things faster with more energy.


  6. #6
    Senior Member Charles Hess's Avatar
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    I'm not as eloquent as most on this site, so I'll start by saying "What Steve said". Because art is so subjective, I think it's just as bad to look down upon those who are interested mainly in technical perfection as it is to get up on a soapbox and tell the world that you know the difference between real art and what is boring. "Real" artists produce just as many bad and boring paintings as the photographers who enjoy the new technology and are producing technically perfect but uninspired images ...my opinion.

    Most of us here on this site are here not because they are trying to create a masterpiece each time they press the shutter, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, rather they are here simply for the enjoyment of the medium and the community.

    Your photography, for me, is unique and creative, others may think it's crap, and who is to say who is right or wrong? Many folks here do not have the time, money, desire, or interest to put into this craft that you have, and if the images posted are BLOODY BORING, so what? There is a place in the world for works of art and a place in the world for a snap of the family dog. Everyone has a right to criticize, but unless they can admit to themselves that what they are saying is purely their own opinions, their comments mean absolutely nothing...to me, and that's MY opinion.


  7. #7
    Liz
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    Moderator Emeritus Liz's Avatar
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    Viewfinder

    Hi Irakly,

    It's good to see you around! I just want to express my thoughts on your post. Initially when I read it, because I didn't agree I felt a bit defensive. However this morning I have somewhat of a different perspective. I still don't agree with your "vision" of what type of images should or should not be posted here. I also don't agree that people post bad images or "crap" here. However, IMO Viewfinder is the right place to post your views. I must add that you came on too strong and made it feel like a personal attack. I can see why people would feel offended.

    You've been coming here on and off for a long time and many here respect your work and have benefited from your critiques and advice. IMO this thread has the potential to become an interesting discussion which may or may not include what consitutes art for each person, etc. We can certainly learn from your experience and expertise.

    Personally I have learned just about everything I know about photography on PR. My first photo was shot on the way home after purchasing my first SLR. The subject was a bunch of sea gulls sitting around a gray parking lot on a cloudy day. Because people have been patient with me here, my "vision" has improved immensely. Probably none of my photos are a work of art in the eyes of some, but I have photographs that still thrill me when I look at them because I captured what I had in my mind and heart.

    One more reminder - Viewfinder is the forum set up for enjoying a wide range of topics. It wouldn't be expected that everyone's images include their best work.

    Liz
    Last edited by Liz; 09-16-2004 at 05:33 AM. Reason: typo

  8. #8
    Moderator of Critiques/Hearder of Cats mtbbrian's Avatar
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    Post Photography IS Art!

    I like a lot of what you are saying Irakly, but I think photography is art period...
    At it's least photography is art for the masses, readily available and easy to do. At it's best any photographic master piece belongs right next to a master piece done in any of the "traditional mediums".

    Photography has the fortune and perhaps the misfortune of being for a creative endeavor and a technical one too. The uses for photography are limitless and can be far more creative than the "traditional mediums" Look at photography's scientific applications; have you ever looked at a photograph of an atom or cell? Talk about technical and artisitic!

    Brian
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    “A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed, and is, thereby, a true manifestation of what one feels about life in its entirety...” - Ansel Adams

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  9. #9
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    Counting 1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9...10

    The bottom line of your thread is that you want photography to be respected as an art form by everybody and to achieve this every photographer has to meet certain standards. This is however never going to happen of course.

    You can't handle it emotionally, so you start this little crying and flaming session.

    This is one of those threads that doesn't lead to anything, a thread that's full of clichés and doesn't improve any of our photographic or artistic skills or increase our knowledge in any way.

    Follow your own advice; "let's not talk nonsense".

  10. #10
    Sleep is optional Sebastian's Avatar
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    Irakly,

    I agree with you almost entirely, but not in the target of your frustrations. I share the same feelings, but they are directed at *ME*, I am frustrated with the broing images *I* am taking, and frustrated with trying to break that mold. I think where you stray in your post is that you direct it at everyone. I understand your frustrations, and I agree with them, but I think your target doesn't deserve it.

    I hate to say this, but I think to create a library of really awesome stuff you are looking in the wrong place. Like Steve said, this is an enthusiast forum, and though some here, including yourself, have this down to an art form, the rest of us do not, and most importantly, some don't WANT to get tot hat level.

    On a side note, for someone like myself that does want to reach such a level, what should be done? How did you get to where you are? How, as a group, can we help foster an environment where people can hope to achieve this? I am sincere, I want to know for myself, and also for the others here. Let's get this thread going towards a more positive direction.

    It's really nice to see you around again, any chance you can make it to Chicago in November?
    -Seb

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  11. #11
    Sitting in a Leaky Dingy Michael Fanelli's Avatar
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    Your criticism is misplaced. Photography is much more than just art. Most people have no other outlet; drawing, painting, sculpting take a lot of natural talent they don't possess. "Clicking the button" makes art accessible.

    Does clicking the button have to have artistic merit? Of course not! The vast majority of photographers are looking for memories, the memories promised by the old Kodak ads. They want photos of their children, their freinds, the important and not so important aspects of their lives. Most of all, they want to share these moments with others. Artistic merit is not the priority.

    Yes, much of what is produced is not art and never will be. So what? Enjoy the fact that these people's efforts are allowing you the chance to see a little bit of their lives. It costs nothing and hurts no one to pass it by if you want.

    By the way, you are right about the technology. There are people for whom the equipment is so much more important then actually taking photographs! I have never understood this.
    "Every great decision creates ripples--like a huge boulder dropped in a lake. The ripples merge and rebound off the banks in unforseeable ways.

  12. #12
    Senior Member shesells's Avatar
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    Well La De Freakin Da....

    Arent't we the greatest?

    Quote Originally Posted by Irakly Shanidze
    In order to create a painting one needs to master a rather complicated technique and then spend hours actually painting. WIth photography it is easy, you just press a little button.
    I majored in Art in college and spent hours perfecting my work, as you say; but nothing compared to the time spent trying to master the art of photography, both technically and artistically. In my opionion, it's just another medium.

    Quote Originally Posted by Irakly Shanidze
    Countless "artists" who do not put any effort into taking a photo other than pressing that little button do really undermine reputation of photography because they create a steady stream of substandard, mindless and simply boring photos that can tickle fancies only of those who took them.
    Have you seen the crap that comes out of an art class? Once in a great while someone comes up with something acceptable. Why? Because it takes a lot of crap to get to the experience you need to produce a work of art. The same with photography. Luckily we don't have to pay for art school to get feedback we can use to advance our skill..[/QUOTE]
    Quote Originally Posted by Irakly Shanidze
    If you have ever been among real artists, you must know what I mean. People do not talk endlessly about their brushes or easels. They just do not!
    No, they talk endlessly about themselves and how deep they are! Talk about BLOODY BORING!

    Quote Originally Posted by Irakly Shanidze
    Let's have a gallery here that will blow peoples' minds away, let's not talk nonsense, but shoot creatively and share your works of ART.
    If a traditional artist has "works of art" they would be displaying them in a show or museum, not in their classroom. If we had "photographic works of art" do you think we would dispaly them here? Dream on. You don't have a hold on reality if you do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Irakly Shanidze
    I wrote this because I am just so blarsted bored with pictures that I see here!!!
    Apparently you're not bored with your own pics, so good look at those.
    Typical of traditional artist...big ego.

    Try not to forget that either world, Art, or Photograhy, or anyway man expresses himself is because of the joy of creating. Yes we can all improve, that's why we seek help from others who choose our same medium to express themselves.
    Kit

  13. #13
    Princess of the OT adina's Avatar
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    I try to treadmill two miles everyday. Am I going to compete in the Olympics? Nope, not a chance. Does that make it less enjoyable or worthwhile for me? Nope.

    For example. Yesterday, I bought a new body. However, with everything going on right now, I won't have time for at least 3 weeks to try and do anything I might even possibly small chance consider art. A half hour in the backyard was all I could fit in. Still, I was excited, and wanted to share. Should I not have posted these because they were just snapshots?

    Ideally, every now and then, we could all produce "art". However, until then, I don't think that we should not share images that don't reach that standard.

    adina
    I sleep, but I don't rest.

  14. #14
    Freestyle Photographer Hodgy's Avatar
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    If you find that the images here are not giving you a "wow" factor, then visit another forum. I am a member at a few pay forums that are 100% professional photographers and the images that I see there are just awe inspiring.

  15. #15
    Senior Member shesells's Avatar
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    Adina..

    Quote Originally Posted by adina
    Yesterday, I bought a new body.
    A new body?? Dang! Where do you get them? I want one.. heh kidding. Now you won't have to work out so much!
    I enjoyed your pics by the way and agree with you also.
    Kit

  16. #16
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    I think I understand what;s trying to be said. I think I may have even started similar posts.

    For me, I even have problems with people deciding what is art and what isn't. As an example, a beautiful hand crafted piece of furniture isn't art. At least in some peoples eyes. To me it's no different than other art. This person had a vision and then used their skills (learned craft, etc) to fulfill their vision and make a beautiful piece of furniture. So why don't people consider it art?

    I am, however, not a shutter pusher. I tend to think through my ideas and am very methodic about my approach. Is this better or worse? I don't know. I'm having a brainfart and can't remember his name, but there is a well know impressionist that walked around with a camera and randomly pushed the shutter button. He would then develop the pictures and paint something similar. It is still art.

    As far as photosig goes, I quite going there when I realized not only does a lot of the work look like porn, it is! Those are porn stars in many of the pictures there. I suppose it's still art, but not my bag of tea.

    But like hodgy, I started showing my work at sites that have people with similar interests. Or at least appreciate the work I do and give very good feedback. For the same reason I stopped commenting on peoples work here. In many ways theres nothing wrong with it. Just not my interest and many people here don't want a real critique.

    I also take with a grain of salt any image I see on the web. It's too easy to make 400x600 pixel images that look great. A friend asked me about wedding photographers. He was looking at their web sites. I told him to go down and look at actual albums and big enlargements. Boy, was he suprised and thanked me for that advice.

  17. #17
    Ghost
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    Well, I understand the OP's point but the people that come to these forums include all types of people. Some are problably artists (or aspire to be) and others just like playing with toys (cameras),,,,others fit somewhere in the middle.

    I appreciate the "call to arms" in the OP's message but I don't the the majority of visitors on this forum fit his category of "artist".

    Just telling it like I see it.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Charles Hess's Avatar
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    Thanks, all, for keeping this thread civil. We obviously all have our viewpoints, many of them counter to Irakly's opening thread, and the responses were to the point without being threatening. :-)

  19. #19
    Member dmdiaz's Avatar
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    Good post!

    Hello All,

    Although I don't agree w/ everything that was said in the first post, I can understand some of the points that are being made. I look at this forum often (although I don't post often), and sometimes I do feel that people can get "hung up" on the technology. Many of the posts that I see make me believe that many people either don't care, or don't focus enough attention on the creative/artistic aspects of photography. Granted, I know that not everyone here wants to be a professional/artist, but it would be nice if there were more posts directed at the creative and artistic side of photography.

    I certainly am no professional, but I really do enjoy photography as a hobby. I do believe that photography is well suited to me because after being stuck in an office all week long, I can take pics to exercise my creative side + my technical side simultaneously. As I said before, I think that many people (not necessarily only in this forum) focus on the technology and equipment much more than the actual process and end result of the photographs being taken. I think that many photography enthusiasts spend too much time on things like "How many megapixels does that camera have?", "What's the dpi on that scanner?", etc., and not enough time asking themselves "How can I improve this composition/lighting/etc.", "Would this shot be better in color or in B&W", "what mood am I trying to capture w/ this photo"?

    Because of this, I have embarked on a 1 man "mini-revolt" against digital. Instead of buying a 10D, or digital rebel to complement my Canon Elan 7E, I have recently purchased an almost 50 year old Rolleiflex TLR. It quickly became my favorite camera, and it's almost twice as old as I am. Why do I love it? It doesn't have any megapixels, it doesn't even use batteries -it's all manual. Speaking about art, I do believe that this camera itself is a work of art. Before taking a picture, I have to figure out everything - it's completely manual. This camera really forces me to learn the "craft" of photography. When I feel my skills have advanced to my satisfaction, I will reward myself w/ a digital camera, knowing that I have the proper skills to use it.

    Anyway, I've rambled on enough. I'm not saying that I agree w/ the first post, but it reminded me of a post that I almost put here about a month ago, and ultimately decided against it.


    David

  20. #20
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Awesome!

    Way to stir things up, Irakly! This site can use a little more controversy. Sometimes we get too polite. But that's because most people on this site have so much respect for each other. This thread just proves that. Even when you try to get in our face, people come back at you with reasonable and well-thought out answers.

    That said, I am very sympathetic to your message. I too believe that most photography I see isn't art. To me, ART is about meaning. There's illustration and art. There are both types of work in other "artistic" disciplines, why should photography be any different? A pretty, technically perfect image of a flower, or even a naked woman, isn't necessarily art. It becomes ART when it starts to have deeper, layered meanings - when it starts to speak about the human condition and help us to better define and understand our place in the universe. ART is abour spirituality and the deeper parts of the psyche. It's more than just capturing a scene. It's capturing that scene and sing it to suggest more about who we are, where we come from, where we're going, and our relationship to the world around us.

    I hope I'm not being judgemental here. That's not my intention. People are very quick to get defensive whenever anyone starts to challenge whether their work is "real" art. But I'm not saying there's anything wrong with snapshot, family, flower, or other representational photography. I understand that people take pictures for many reasons. Not everyone is interested in taking pictures that encompass something larger. But to claim that all photography is art is to undermine and devalue the word, "art." ART is different. That's we argue about it and that's why it's important. It's hard to define - especially the line where a piece goes from being representational to art. But once again, a technically perfect photo does not necessarily qualify as art. That doesn't mean it's bad or the photographer isn't doing valuable work, though. It just means the content is different.

    I'm glad Irakly started this thread. I think it's a good one and I think we can take advantage of it. A bunch of people said that he should go somewhere else because this site just isn't an artistic site. I take issue with that. I have a fine art background. I'm not really doing artistic photography these days, but I want art on this site. One of my unspoken goals for PhotographyREVIEW.com is to challenge photographers and get them to expect more of themselves and each other when it comes to photography. If you read the critiques I post on the Photo Critique forum you'll know that I occassionally start talking about meaning, symbolism, and understanding your own motives. These things are important for "real" art. And while talent is a real issue, I believe we can all improve our work ad make it more artistic. We can't all be great artists. But we call all be better artists. ut we have to have an open dialogue about art and we have to speak the right language and understand what art actually is.

    I propose that we create a new forum specifically for art photography. That way, if you're interested you can share and participate. And if you're not, you can ignore it. But I believe this site can become more artistic and we'll all benefit. It will raise the level of the site and encourage and inspire us all to expect more from our photography. I know I miss mixing with photographers who are concerned with a deeper kind of work.

    Irakly, would you be willing to moderate a new forum?
    Photo-John

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  21. #21
    Learning more with every "click" mjs1973's Avatar
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    I don't know about everyone else who visits this forum, but I love the mixture of "art" and "snapshots" that I get to look at. If I had nothing but masterpieces to look at, I would get bored. I love being able to compare images that are great with images that aren't so great. Looking at photos that aren't spectacular really makes me appreciate the images that are, even more. And furtermore, if it wasn't for the not so great photos that are posted by people like myself, nobody would ever realize how great your photos are... so you're welcome.

    Michael
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  22. #22
    Wisconsin Cheesehead Spike's Avatar
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    Lol!

    Quote Originally Posted by Photo-John
    Irakly, would you be willing to moderate a new forum?
    Heh, heh, heh. PJ, I never expected you to use this typical business world tactic! (When someone complains, assign the task of resolving the situation to them.) Excellent!! Now we'll see if Irakly is willing to put his money where his mouth is, or if he prefers to simply whine.

    Spike

  23. #23
    Liz
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    Lightbulb Great idea......

    John -

    Thanks for putting things into perspective.

    I'd like to respond to one statement:

    "I propose that we create a new forum specifically for art photography. That way, if you're interested you can share and participate. And if you're not, you can ignore it. But I believe this site can become more artistic and we'll all benefit. It will raise the level of the site and encourage and inspire us all to expect more from our photography. I know I miss mixing with photographers who are concerned with a deeper kind of work."

    I think this is a great idea. However, as has been stated more than once in this thread - Art is subjective. What is art to one person isn't to another...... and sometimes there is a fine line between "art and crap" to quote Irakly ;)

    In the new forum what would the guidelines for posting be? To quote my own post above - Probably none of my photographs would be considered works of Art. However, I have photographs that still thrill me when I view them because I captured the vision at the time and they hold (personal) meaning and expression.

    Liz

  24. #24
    Sleep is optional Sebastian's Avatar
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    I'm all for the new forum.
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    How to tell the most experienced shooter in a group? They have the least amount of toys on them.

  25. #25
    Liz
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    Moderator Emeritus Liz's Avatar
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    Actually..........

    Actually I think this is a good idea and it just may work. Business tactic or whatever, it's worth a "shot" (excuse the pun) IMO. I think it will bring out potential that some photographers don't even know they have! Anyway, I'm curious to see what transpires.

    Liz

    Quote Originally Posted by Spike
    Heh, heh, heh. PJ, I never expected you to use this typical business world tactic! (When someone complains, assign the task of resolving the situation to them.) Excellent!! Now we'll see if Irakly is willing to put his money where his mouth is, or if he prefers to simply whine.

    Spike

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