Monday, November 20, 2006

ku # 440 and a commentary for your consideration


As I slowly get sucked into the photo blog vortex - a place of incredibly high density from which I wonder if any light will escape - I alternately feel either intrigued/captivated or anesthetised/mind-boggled (mind-bloggled?). At times, when you really get down to the nub, it seems as if much is being written/expressed about very little, or, at least, about the same basic question. Lots of people - spewing and venting (I don't mean that in a negative sense) about photography/art - caught in a kind of endless What's-It-All-About, Alfie? loop, although on ocassions it seems more like a Monty-Python's-Meaning-of-Life loop.

Ultimately, as I (tentatively) see it, it appears that one question (with a variation) keeps coming to the fore (directly or indirectly) - what is a good photograph? and it's variant - are my photographs good photographs?

For me, the answer to the primary question was made simple (relatively) when, years ago, I stumbled across the phrase "to illustrate and illuminate". Ergo, for me, a good photograph must engage the visual sense and the realm of the intellect/emotion. When a photograph does that, it tickles me right on my photographic Gräfenberg spot (that's "G-spot" for all you insensitive guys out there) every time - and I use the word "tickle" because I derive great pleasure from a good photograph.

I experience even greater pleasure when a photograph makes me "work for it" by challenging my eye and my intellect. I'm not looking for a fleeting slam-bam-thank-you-mame thing. I do enjoy a photographic quickie now and then, but they seem to come and go in a flash. Nothing to write home about. Nothing to hang your hat on. Nothing to sink your teeth into.

As for the variant question, I know my photographs are good photographs because, first and foremost, they give me pleasure, in fact, great pleasure. And, fortunately enough, my photographs have been seen and appreciated by a wide enough audience for me to know that others think they are good photographs as well. Many have been pleasured by my photographs and part of my pleasure is knowing that I connect with others through my photography.

So there you have it (time to unseat all of those tentured photography professors mucking around in arcane academic theory). It's so simple - photography/art is all about pleasure and the more penetrating the pleasure, the better.

Admit it.

No matter how serious your photographic intentions (and mine are pretty serious), is anybody out there doing it for the displeasure of it all?

FEATURED COMMENT: Kent Wiley wrote: "...I like your logic: simple, direct, to the point. But does it blast us to escape velocity so we can pull away from the dreaded "black hole" of bloggery?..."

2 Comments:

Anonymous Kent Wiley said...

To recap:
Good Photos = illustrate + illuminate
G.P.s pleasure the senses - mentally
Others have gotten pleasure from
my G.P.s
Ergo, I must be a good lover...er photographer.

I like your logic: simple, direct, to the point. But does it blast us to escape velocity so we can pull away from the dreaded "black hole" of bloggery? Much navel gazing going on down here.

But, as with sex, if you can't do it, let's talk about it - photography, that is.

11/21/2006 02:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Joel Truckenbrod said...

Good read Mark.

The nature of "illumination" is what I often struggle with. It has struck me that what may sometimes be illuminating to one, may be obvious to another. When we see true illumination, do we always recognize it? Probably not, and if we do, it may take time to truly grasp it. Expanding our photographic "lexicon" (of sorts), seems to be one way to approach the issue...beyond the simple and neccessary act of creating on our own. Still, it generally seems to me, that true inspiration seems to come from within, not from without. While pushing the envelope has its moments, being true to oneself has great merit as well. If we are simply attempting to illuminate for the sake of illumination, we risk falling on our faces, our photographs becoming empty vessels. Does photography generally bring me great pleasure? Sure. Does photography sometimes frustrate the hell out of me? You bet. Both aspects seem important in different ways and capacities to true artistic growth.

Anyhow, this is simply based on my limited photographic experience, maybe I'll be singing a different tune as time and life progress. Best regards.

11/21/2006 03:14:00 AM  

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