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Re: [OM] Aesthetic sense.

Subject: Re: [OM] Aesthetic sense.
From: *- DORIS FANG -* <sfsttj@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 15 Jul 1998 21:28:18 -0400 (EDT)

On Wed, 15 Jul 1998, John Austin wrote:

> Developing the "vision", the "eye", the way of "seeing", I find harder. Yes,
> I have studied the work of the greats, and for the most part I understand
> what makes those pictures "work". But unless I want to duplicate exactly
> what they've shot, it doesn't help with developing a vision of my own.

  Think of them as departure points, not as icons. 

> There
> are several books on the market that show great landscape shots, and tell
> exactly what equipment was used, the time of day, the season, the weather,
> and even EXACTLY where to stand or place one's tripod. Ansel Adams was even
> guilty of producing one of these. Providing you can read and have access to
> the location and the equipment used, great photos are almost guranteed.
  This is a fallacy. Try going there sometimes with duplicate equipment,
great pics not guaranteed. Not at all. Ansel's shot of Canyon de Chelly,
taken very near to where T. O'Sullivan took his shot, is quite different.
O'Sullivan's vision is very different from Adams. Look at their shots
of of the Oceano dunes sometime.

> How does one develop a sense of "seeing" a great photo as one observes the
> things around them.

  By becoming sensitive/open to the world around you.

> I think Doris and Matthew come close when they talk
> about evoking a mood or emotion that transmits what you are trying to say to
> the viewer.

   Of course, all of this is intuitive. No inner dialogue takes place.
 You do not think of "what you're trying to say" or "what the viewer
will think". You trust yourself and your vision in the moment, and go
with it. This is where the technical should be as smooth as breathing, and
your vision should be free to rise and manifest itself unto the film.

> But what if you have nothing to say.
  Everyone has something to say, but not everyone has sensitized
himself and opened himself to the world so that what one sees is
integrated with one's being and feelings. We all wear blinders to some
degree. Not everyone is fluent through images (one of the things you can
learn from the work of the greats), but I find most people lack the
confidence to come out and express their feelings. 

> How is it that two people
> can look at a scene and one of them sees nothing worth saying anything
> about, and the other sees an emotion that they then convey to the viewer
> through a photograph.

  Well, one may not be receptive to that type of "scene", also. But this
is one of the mysteries of photography, that you can go with a dozen
photographers to the same location/event/model, and everyone sees
something different.

> That is the "vision" that I'm talking about. How does one develop that

  If photography is a language, you must learn to "speak" it well enough
to sing and write poetry. The Vision thing is a tougher nut to crack.
What do you love, hate, are attracted to, repelled by ? These are a good
place to start. They are emotional (in a geological sense) fault lines,
that allow you access to your inner self. Sometimes the real route is
one we may find very, very difficult. Following one's bliss is a good
idea, and so is following one's fears, going where you normally avoid
  Find your sources of inspiration, and this can be difficult. I think of
inspirational sources as being all around us, as a sort of positive mine
field. You have to go running about many possible inspirational sources
before you find one that is an energizing source. I remember reading 
in "Hot Light/Half-Made Worlds", how the Master Magnum photographer
Alex Webb said that a few novels (purposely leaving out titles here, you
should find your own) by French authors were his inspiration. They are
keys to our inner selves.

 Or is it something that one is either born with or
> isn't, and it's not possible to "learn" to be a good photographer?

      Many artists did not "bloom" until their later years. Some. like
Lartigue, had their hottest periods at an early age. Van Gogh's last two
years were almost white-hot in terms of creativity. A similar thing
happened to Atget as an older man. I am sure there's some genetic
components involved in all this, but am confident a lot of it
 is learned, enough to make it worth anyone's while. It is about personal
growth & evolution, and you can't go wrong by devoting yourself to
any of the arts.

                                whew, what a longie...
                                  Doris Fang

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