The Final Word…

… at least from me. You all are welcome to respond. First of all, thanks to everyone who expressed a positive response to the print competition. And since it appeared to help some people in their desire to learn more about photography, that’s the best part. On the other hand, I realize that my philosophy of photography and my tireless focus on detail annoys other people as well.

I think its great that photography borrows from principles of fine art to better understand the depth of composition and “seeing” gained through the broader perspective of art. However, I don’t accept that fine art should dictate the terms of how photography is judged. Photography is an entirely unique art form, and therefore should be judged as such. If sharpness and detail are not important, why have we spent roughly 178 years since the invention of photography continually improving the quality of cameras, lenses and printers to capture fine detail and reproduce it on paper?

I promise not to beat the issue to death. But if the club would like to have another competition in the future, conducted in the same manner as this one, give your opinions to the board. If you don’t like having a competition organized in this manner, tell them that too. If you think all kinds of competitions are a waste of time, well… you get the idea. It’s the board’s task to plan a course for the club. But it’s our responsibility to feed them with our suggestions for what we want as a club.

That said, I can only manage this type of event, at most, once a year. On the other hand, I’m willing to lead informal print meetings, as we’ve done periodically this year (without the context of a competition or written critiques), at about any time the board chooses to rent the room and put it on the calendar. Those are extremely effective educational opportunities because you’ll receive a wide variety of feedback and thoughts about your images from a diverse group of people. Express your interest in those type of events to the board as well.

3 responses on “The Final Word…

  1. Marina Schultz

    Hi I read all your comments !! And did learn quite a bit!!! I hope you have a yearly print competition !!!!!!! Next year I will make sure I’m home and supply all the appetizers !!!! Remember I can’t hear a word anyone says in meetings so I was very happy to read your insights !! I totally agree with Jeff Stoddart’s picture winning !!! I loved all his pictures from icelake !! Awsome!!! You did a great job and our club should be honored by someone like you putting in your time and effort ! Thankyou!!

  2. John Truzinski

    Some thoughts generated by Our August TMCC meeting
    Certainly in any activity there are people with different views on the performance of that activity and how performance should be measured. In photography many believe what they consider to be the best photographs are those with the truest color, the most vivid details, and perfect composition. With the advances in technology since its inception, these goals seem to be more attainable than ever.

    In addition to these ideas (not instead of) the photographer must remember that viewers can not look at a photograph without filtering it through their own store of memories and emotions. At our Camera Club meetings many people react to pictures because they are reminded of an emotion or experience unique to them. Sometimes the subject may make them “think”, because it is so unusual, or so far out of their normal comfort zone. Images can stimulate, captivate or challenge people to look at things in a new light.

    Photography has so many uses in our society, among others it can serve to capture emotions, document events, explain concepts, to teach or to make or change opinions. None of these necessarily demand a precise “depth of field”.
    We need to remember that photography can stir emotions and feelings such as joy, love, sadness, and amusement, among others. I think photographs can improve our ‘happiness” quota, and think some of our competitions could be more on the” fun side” and less on the “technical” side, although both are important. I think it would be fun to incorporate concepts such as amusing, humorous, great mistakes, oxymorons, laughter , tears, or surprise in our scavenger hunt list and to continue to encourage people to exercise their creativity.
    At our August meeting we had a lively and interesting discussion about a portrait entered in our most recent print competition. At no time in the discussion, did we discuss the needs of the person in the portrait. How many people would want a picture so technically accurate that it showed every flaw on your face such as wrinkles( heaven forbid), discolorations( Oh,No!), errant marks (not me)or oversized pores( what’s a pore?). I wouldn’t think very many!
    Eventually we each have to make up our own minds what our ideas for photography are, and our stimulating discussions in our non threatening group setting can help us in that pursuit. Ed needs to be thanked again for his thorough and thoughtful evaluations of the prints submitted for this last competition. John Truzinski

  3. Edward Kunzelman Post author

    I agree generally with everything John just said. A few thoughts in response:

    The implicit answer to the question: “How many people would want a picture so technically accurate that it showed every flaw on your face such as…” is probably few or none, as John suggested. Nobody wants to be revealed that way. Or do they? Haven’t we all seen wonderful images of elderly people with grizzled old faces, complete with scars, wrinkles, pores, age spots, etc., and looked at those people, sighed, and thought, wow, such an interesting old person… what a bundle of human experiences and wisdom wrapped up in that person’s face. But show a wrinkle on the face of a 40-year old woman, and we go racing into Photoshop to try and make them look like something they are not. Thanks to corporate advertising and its influence on cultural values, every person now to be socially esteemed should have flawless skin. So we have a whole army of photo-retouchers all trying to make the same picture. That’s a cultural problem, not a photographic one. In my opinion, great photography reveals the subject for who or what they genuinely are – flaws and all. Can it be accomplished without perfect sharpness or textbook lighting? Of course, it can. Sometimes. There is no best or correct technical standard for every photograph, other than what is most effective for communicating the intent of the photographer in a given image. Obviously many of our most famous pictures in history have left an indelible impression on us for years, decades and maybe centuries later, not because of technical mastery, but because of the human emotional connection. A memorable picture is a memorable picture.

    But keep in mind, nobody entered any sort of extraordinary human drama picture into the print competition. Nobody tested me on the theory that a blurry human picture can “compete” with a sharp landscape picture. In fact, we rarely see them at the club, ever. The interesting question is why? Why is it that we’ve become so detached from people in general, that overwhelming joy and sadness are essentially eliminated from our photographs? Have remote landscapes and bird sanctuaries become our security blanket? A relief from reading the daily newspaper?

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