Friday, November 22, 2013

A not very tragic accident

In a not very tragic accident yesterday evening when I was working with my phone on my blog, I managed to delete yesterday's entry. I'm not too bothered about it though. All I was commenting on was that I had just had a huge number of site hits via a link on a Romanian website. I'd also been rather surprised to have a larger than background number of hits from one of those hateful photo forum thingies. From what I remember of those things (sadly I used to waste too much time on them a few years ago) they're largely comprised of people either buttering each other up or castigating each other. Photography seemed to take second place to gratuitous wittering. I believe I voiced a concern that being linked from a photo forum might impact negatively on my website's web rankings as a form of link farming.

I heard a comment somewhere and I'm not sure where. Apparently somebody had died and left a load of photographs behind. Family went through the photographs and found a lot of the artsy-fartsy stuff that were of no worth nor interest and too few photographs of the things that matter - such as places where they lived, photos of family etc. That raised the question of what is a photographer? Is a photographer somebody that does artsy-fartsy stuff or somebody that documents life?

The online photo forums just seem to be full of photo gangsters rather than anything else. Quite obnoxious places and exactly why I gave up frequenting them. On the other hand, they do give the lunatics a place to frequent and keeps them off the streets. So, back to real photography and the interesting comment. This is pretty much the question one should always ask - is this photo worth taking?

There are whole books on how to photograph baubles in a desktop studio setting. Feininger was very dismissive of such people in his book on photography. Such photographs are a complete waste of time and effort, to be honest. Nobody wants them. Nobody wants to see them. The only people that might want photographs of baubles are the companies that sell them. For the most part they have the lighting etc all worked out and a minimum wage employee working the camera for their website.

There's a huge myth about photography that blows photography up into something more than a hobby or an interest. It seems to make out that it's a way to riches whereas in fact it's not. Heck, I passed yet another photography studio yesterday with a big "Lease for sale" sign outside it. To be honest, I have not yet seen a "professional photographer" that has not been struggling horribly and on the verge of bankruptcy. They all seem to believe that have a product to sell and certainly photography is a skill but like knitting, it's not a salable skill. Who gets paid to knit when I can go to Walmart and buy a pair of machine-knitted socks for $1.99?

To the average family, a photograph taken by wedging a cellphone or compact camera onto a chair and leaping into the frame after pressing the self-timer just works. They don't need a "professional" photograph of them. The photograph is for themselves and their family. Nobody cares about getting ultimate quality - they just want something recognisable.

For me, I enjoy my photography. I go out. I take photographs of what I see. I sometimes try to make the best images possible. I have fun. My books on High-Speed photography are me sharing the skills on how to take high-speed images with modest equipment. Certainly I could have spent thousands on a microflash, thousands more on just the right camera etc. It wasn't important. It was actually doing it that was the important thing. Not just doing it but gaining the joy from doing it. It is like infra-red film - no conceivable use to anybody but a scientist but incredible fun to play with.

To my mind, there's too much baloney attached to photography. Not just the money aspect which is utter tripe. Nobody makes money from photography - it's purely a hobby. Some manage to make money although I am sure their approach is less than honest. I recall an advert voiced over the speaker in a store offering $10 portraits. I heard that and wondered if it was worth investigating so out of sheer boredom I did and found that it was $10 to sit in the chair. Then $15 processing fee then $10 for a print or to have the photo emailed. The $10 just covered sitting in the chair while a button was pressed. See what I mean - totally dishonest and a total scam. That was the in-store photographer in one of the department stores in Lexington, SC. I am not surprised that they had a shady operator like that working there. I don't have a high regard for chain stores.

Photography is not a job. It is not a career. It is fun and should be enjoyed. There's no point in competing for the best photograph of a leaf or a bauble. Nobody cares about "photo quality" all people care about is getting something recognisable. What I do is to photograph interesting things, places I have been and family. Other than that, it's photographing things to sell on ebay etc. I don't care one jot about competing for the highest photo quality. It just seems to be somewhat anal.


  1. A lovely post. Question: when is wittering not gratuitous?

  2. They go together but using "gratuitous wittering" is a stylistic device that amplifies the effect.

  3. So, wittering is always gratuitous? Then I would suggest that such redundancy diminishes, not amplifies, the effect.

  4. Wittering is not always gratuitous. Some people witter naturally. The gratuitous nature of wittering comes into play surely when one seeks to witter. In the forums I mention, wittering seems gratuitous. People seek those forums with the ultimate aim of wittering.

  5. Wittering is gratuitous when it is witless.