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Help Me Understand, Please

This is a discussion on Help Me Understand, Please within the Photographic essays and classic photography forums, part of the Photography & Fine art photography category; I continue to struggle with my photography. I'm a fair bit of a geek and don't always understand the "artsy" ...

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    Default Help Me Understand, Please

    I continue to struggle with my photography. I'm a fair bit of a geek and don't always understand the "artsy" part of what I do, however, with photography I am somewhat driven to do it so there's not really any option to stop All that being said, I generally know what I like and don't like but I get really confused when I see work done by "the masters".

    For instance, I was reading a blog post which referred to the following image, Masters of Photography: Stephen Shore, from Stephen Shore who, apparently, is a photographer of some fame. When I look at this image, and even study it a bit, I say "Meh, I don't get it." How can others look at this image and put it in a category of work done by "a master"?

    Here's a few more: MoMA | The Collection | Stephen Shore. (American, born 1947)

    I just really don't get why he's a famous photographer. Most of the images are not very interesting and don't look (to me) to be particularly challenging shots.

    Can anyone offer me an education?
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    I have seen those before and I am sure that some art curator can explain the artistic value but they are for the most part not my cup of tea. I like the Kalispell street photo but really other then being a kind of record of the 70's, I do not have much fascination with them.
    If you look at the "commons" on flickr by such museums as the Smithsonian there are tons and tons of photos that are more appealing.

    On this thread I pointed out a couple of amateurish photos from a girl on another forum, that I thought had a lot of eye appeal but I guess I was the only one. (She may end up being a fabulous artist someday, who knows?)

    *edit* Ok, I just went and looked him up on the web and I think those photos are not a really fair representation of his overall art at least not without context. Take a look here:
    http://www.sauer-thompson.com/junkfo...n-shore-t.html

    By the way he pioneered color in photographic art, where B&W was previously considered the only medium for art photography and traveled across America taking photos of 'banal' items and scenery. So there you go.
    Last edited by JAS_Photo; 04-09-2010 at 11:30 AM.

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    I like some of this work as some of it has a slice of life quality that invites the viewer to create their own story....some I don't care for either.

    I can easily see how this work does not at all have a wide appeal and so i can see many people going meh.

    But "art" is so personal as you know Iggy...and just because some people choose to photograph in a style that makes you go meh does not (necessarily) mean their work is 'bad'.

    I see his work is shown at MOMA....and I see LOADS of work at MOMA that makse me go meh but makes the artists rich. All black canvases, or canvasses with 1 stripe selling for millions of dollars are prime examples (for me).
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    Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting his art is any less important than anyone else's art. I'm just trying to figure out if I'm missing something. Is there some part of my artistic education that is lacking. I do not understand how someone can look at some of these and see "a master at work" when all I see is what looks like a random snapshot.

    That whole black/white stripe thing drives me nuts too. If there is context, some times it can be meaningful. For instance, a series of black and white stripes with the title "zebra" or "racial integration" or some such may be meaningful but just seeing the stripes is not to me.

    JAS, regarding your "What makes a photograph art?" thread, I should have seen the connection here with what I'm asking, d'oh! I had looked at the images but wasn't quite sure what to say about it and ended up not posting anything, sorry. Probably because I kinda don't get those either. I did kinda like the image of the people sitting on the steps but only from a purely voyeuristic viewpoint and not really an artistic one.
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    I wonder sometimes Iggy if it is a case of "The Emperor has No Clothes"

    I mean don't get me wrong and I am not trying to slag any critics. artists, etc, etc, in particular here, but I really have to wonder sometimes if it is a case of one pretentious critic or "arteest-type" says we are "supposed" to like it, so everybody else gets on the same bandwagon....
    No one wants so say "well it is just a red stripe on black canvas" b/c they don't want to seem as uneducated or in bad light by the others.
    I read "Blink" and "The Tipping Point"by Malcom Gladwell and both are filled with stories of all kinds of people like that....how things like this tend to take on a life of their own b/c the so-called experts or mavens say something is so and want to create hype and establish their careers or people that have influence like something and next thing you know (Oprah...classic example of Maven) .....great books btw is you have not read it.
    Sometimes I honestly believe that is the case. Yes art is definitely subjective but there are an awful lot of experts out there who seem to have opinions on what should and should not be appreciated on a subjective media....it's the same with music, fashion, designing, wine, food ..anything really when it comes down to it.
    That's my non-pretentious, uneducated, boorish take on it anyhow...lol!
    Last edited by casil403; 04-09-2010 at 01:32 PM.
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    I think you also have to take into account the time period these were taken and what was around at the time. His reputation could be based on his individuality in his photos at the time perhaps. The things he showed may not have been commonly photographed back then and some may have some important historically also.

    In the end I wouldn't be calling him a 'Master' as most of those look like snapshots to me that almost everybody here can beat.

    I also think if you could draw a graph to represent a bad photographer ... an average ... photographer ... a very good photographer ... and a master photographer the graph these days would be much compressed. Instead of large differences showing we would find it very hard to see the line between a good photographer and a master now.

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    Thanks for the comments, everyone. I guess those are the kinds of things I was thinking too but I thought maybe I was just ignorant of some magical bit of information that was eluding me.
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    Art ( or beauty of the art ) is in the eye of the beholder in my opinion. From these pics I don't get it either. If this "photographer" made any money for it more power to him. I know what I like and don't like. I find that curators see what most of us don't ( or make it up). Personally I would like an explanation as to why pics are chosen for their content and displayed. An explanation that we can all understand without all the Artsy mumbo jumbo. Or is it an elitist mentallity and they tell us what is art? I would love to witness someone publicly challenge the curator(s) as to why. But that's just my nature
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    Quote Originally Posted by casil403 View Post
    I wonder sometimes Iggy if it is a case of "The Emperor has No Clothes"
    I agree to me to be great it must stand the test of time. The problem is photography has not been going that long.

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    Hi Iguanasan. You probably won't like what I am about to say but what the heck. I think some artists are considered great because there photography is just that, truly exceptional. Then I view other photographers work and think what a pile of crap. Why are they considered great. Then I think back to my few years spent at Sheridan College studying commercial art. Several students, in my opinion, including me, had little talent as artists. But what they were really good at was shooting the baloney. (BS) to put it bluntly. Self promoters ( I was not good at the BS myself !) They had big egos and many of those people went far. So what you have to do is start shooting the poop, self promote and soon you will be rich and famous That's my anyroad - jimmy

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