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Bill Brooks

Difference between good photography and great photography

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A thought provoking talk about good photography that we all do most of the time, and the great photography that we all do only sometimes.

 

https://fstoppers.com/education/good-or-great-photo-opinion-self-righteous-sanctimonious-or-absolutely-correct-458290

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A good vid.

I remember the 'pile of bricks' exhibited in the Tate in the 70's and the 'what a joke' reaction. We were all laughing about it at school so our art teacher at the time took a whole lesson discussing it. Completely changed my perception of modern art and what meaning they try to convey.

l guess 'great' photography provokes thought, 'good' photography is nice to look at.

It made me laugh at the beginning though as most of my portfolio appears to be 'camera club' quality according to the host, a bit of a downer :D:D

 

 

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Thanks for posting Bill. Yes a thought provoking video. I liked how the undulating shape of the solar panels was backgrounded by mountains behind. I think I was looking at it aesthetically before I started thinking about meaning in it. Undulating lines are a good way of drawing a viewer into an image. I've been a member of a camera club, and the judges on competition nights regularly mentioned how they are looking for a story in an image, rather than just a beautiful landscape or bird portrait, in line with the message from the video. They liked the bird image if there was a story in it about what the bird is doing, but were not so impressed by what they called 'bird on a stick' images, a static portrait without a story.

 

I do get this, and certainly many (probably most) great photos from history are telling a story and are thought-provoking in some way. At the same time, however, I have to admit I love beautiful landscapes and bird images, even if they're not telling a story. I find them restful to look at. So perhaps it depends on how much I feel like exercising my thinking brain, and how much I just want to relax and enjoy colour, forms, shapes, patterns. I also think static portraits can capture the character of a subject. Sometimes having a person/people in a landscape can definitely add interest and provide a story, or the imaginings of a story if the image is open to different interpretations.

 

And don't worry Martin L, I think I fall into 'camera club' quality too 😁 You have some beautiful bird images. I love the puffins!

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On ‎26‎/‎02‎/‎2020 at 09:45, Bill Brooks said:

A thought provoking talk about good photography that we all do most of the time, and the great photography that we all do only sometimes.

 

https://fstoppers.com/education/good-or-great-photo-opinion-self-righteous-sanctimonious-or-absolutely-correct-458290

Bill,

 

Loved Iain's video, I do agree with him BTW.  In my own opinion my favorite photographers, photojournalists, have been Gene Smith, Raymond Depardon

and two I have known well Joseph Koudelka  and Jim Marshall.  I respect Andreas Gursky, but not moved greatly by the small amount of his work that I

have seen.

 

"F8 and be there" is what I believe to be the most important rule of photography, but just one of them.

 

Thanks,

 

Chuck

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Different images/art have their places.

 

I don't want to have to 'think deeply' every time I see an image. There are times when this is important.. other times, you just need an image which is pretty and makes you feel happy whether it tells a story or not.

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On 26/02/2020 at 13:31, Martin L said:

A good vid.

I remember the 'pile of bricks' exhibited in the Tate in the 70's and the 'what a joke' reaction. We were all laughing about it at school so our art teacher at the time took a whole lesson discussing it. Completely changed my perception of modern art and what meaning they try to convey.

l guess 'great' photography provokes thought, 'good' photography is nice to look at.

It made me laugh at the beginning though as most of my portfolio appears to be 'camera club' quality according to the host, a bit of a downer :D:D

 

 

 

I think your kingfisher in the reeds is spectacularly beautiful. Hooray for beauty! And, of course, you did that very impactful eagle. I do see that there is something else going on in the "art" photos but they are not often something I would want to look at every day.

 

Paulette

 

PS. Your common adder is spectacular too. If I was looking for animals I would definitely look at your portfolio.

Edited by NYCat

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Thanks

Getting wildlife with a bit of differentiation is difficult, you have definitely managed it with some of your pics.

It's hard just to get the little blighters in focus. What would I do to have the ability to ask my little wildlife friends to 'sit still and just move your head to the right a bit'

 

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15 hours ago, Chuck Nacke said:

In my own opinion my favorite photographers, photojournalists, have been Gene Smith, Raymond Depardon

and two I have known well Joseph Koudelka  and Jim Marshall.

 

Thanks for quoting these names Chuck. I had a look at some of their images I found online, and there are many powerful and moving ones there that definitely have a story, along with some iconic photos, like Jim Marshall's musician ones. I realise I have seen some of his work before now, such as ones of Miles Daves and Buddy Guy. 

 

It leaves me thinking that what makes a great image (at least for me anyway) is whether the photographer respects their subject and feels something for the subject. If those ingredients are there, I think it works. I think for me that is true whether it is a beautiful landscape or animal, or whether it is a meaningful story in a photojournalism image.

 

Perhaps too the best photojournalism images make you both think and feel.

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On 26/02/2020 at 13:31, Martin L said:

A good vid.

I remember the 'pile of bricks' exhibited in the Tate in the 70's and the 'what a joke' reaction. We were all laughing about it at school so our art teacher at the time took a whole lesson discussing it. Completely changed my perception of modern art and what meaning they try to convey.

l guess 'great' photography provokes thought, 'good' photography is nice to look at.

It made me laugh at the beginning though as most of my portfolio appears to be 'camera club' quality according to the host, a bit of a downer :D:D

 

 

 

Martin. Don't feel down, you have started uploading good images that will sell as stock.

 

There are three types of images, bad, good, and great

 

I take lots of images. I delete the bad images. I upload the good images, and the occasional great image, to Alamy.

 

Good stock images will sell, but great stock images will sell more often.

 

When a client does a search they are presented with 100 images on the first page. Some of those 100 images are good, and some are great. The client will compare good images to great images. When the client makes a selection they may rent a good image, but they will more likely rent the great image. So photographers producing a larger number of great images will have higher sales, other things being equal.

 

Producing great images is like excelling in any endeavor. Practice practice practice. If you set out to produce only great images it will lead to creative block and no images. Do not overthink it.

 

Practice often enough by producing good images, and you will start producing great images. It is like playing the violin. 

With more great stock images, you will make even more stock sales.
 

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Posted (edited)
On 26/02/2020 at 14:45, Bill Brooks said:

A thought provoking talk about good photography that we all do most of the time, and the great photography that we all do only sometimes.

 

https://fstoppers.com/education/good-or-great-photo-opinion-self-righteous-sanctimonious-or-absolutely-correct-458290

 

In fairness to the other guy, he has never visited that guy's camera club. He is being presumptuous.

 

I've never been a member of a camera club so can't say for sure what they produce. But he does seem rather harsh and condescending towards camera clubs. The examples he gives as 'camera club' photos, look nice, but certainly look unoriginal and derivative. I can't believe this is the only sort of thing they produce.

 

We can all put our art critic hats on and waffle on about a work of art, testifying to why it is so great. Whether our arguments have validity and credibility and really resonate, is quite another question.

 

 

Edited by andremichel
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On 29/02/2020 at 20:47, Bill Brooks said:

 

Practice often enough by producing good images, and you will start producing great images. It is like playing the violin. 

With more great stock images, you will make even more stock sales.
 

 

There is also the question of whether a great image at an exhibition also makes for a great stock image and vice versa.

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On 02/03/2020 at 06:13, andremichel said:

We can all put our art critic hats on and waffle on about a work of art, testifying to why it is so great. Whether our arguments have validity and credibility and really resonate, is quite another question.

 

18 hours ago, andremichel said:

There is also the question of whether a great image at an exhibition also makes for a great stock image and vice versa.

 

I think those are both valid points. I've been a member of a camera club and people produce all kinds of images. There are bird and wildlife specialists, architecture specialists, portrait specialists, people who love creating composites in Photoshop etc. It is really nice to see the ways different people see the world through their camera lens. Sometimes judges on competition nights made decisions more on a technical set of rules, and some judges were more focussed on emotional impact, though still using technical, aesthetic criteria. Increasingly they were talking about the importance of a story in an image. They did all operate on the basis of formalised criteria that they are trained in for assessing images.

 

But I think using the word 'resonate' is good because then it is communicating something for sure. Not everyone will resonate with the same thing, but what I like about some photo comps is when they have a people's choice award. Often what the public choose as their favourite is something quite different to the judges with the main award. When it comes to stock, ideally we want our images to resonate with as many people as possible, and that may be something different to what a photo art critic looks for.

 

In the video, I liked the image of solar panels, and yes it did make me think, but if I wanted to hang something on my wall at home it would be the kingfisher or the landscape. 

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On ‎02‎/‎03‎/‎2020 at 06:01, andremichel said:

 

There is also the question of whether a great image at an exhibition also makes for a great stock image and vice versa.

In my not so humble opinion,  Really Great Images do not often make for frequently licensed "Stock Images."

 

Chuck

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Posted (edited)
41 minutes ago, Chuck Nacke said:

In my not so humble opinion,  Really Great Images do not often make for frequently licensed "Stock Images."

 

Chuck

 

Yes.. some of my images that I have sold a few times definitely wouldn't make it into a gallery.

 

I guess to us an analogy, Ferraris are nice (and many of us might like one) but chances are we will buy a Ford, a Vauxhall/Opel or Volkswagen as that's what we can afford and in many cases are more suitable! 🙂

Edited by Matt Ashmore

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1 hour ago, Chuck Nacke said:

In my not so humble opinion,  Really Great Images do not often make for frequently licensed "Stock Images."

 

Chuck

Could not agree more.  

 

If you guys have few minutes to spare, check out this site:  https://zizka.ca/portfolio-2/

Paul is well known in Canadian Rockies.  He doesn't do only landscapes, but if you are into nature you will be awed.  I think he was doing stock too when he started.  But he is too good now and he knows it.  His prints and books are all over Banff

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Art is in the eye of the beholder.

 

There are many markets for photography and each market has it's needs we as photographer strive to fill in order to make a living. 

 

Striving for great can be daunting and crush your ego as you constantly fall short, as we all do. I like the "F8 and be there" mentality as working on the day to day or mundane can lead to good maybe great work, great work takes work.

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How many pictures that are neither good nor great have sold and made money as stock photos?

 

I don't really care about 'great' pictures.

 

And I don't really care what others think about me not really caring about great pictures. 😏

 

 

 

 

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I don't like momma's apple pie either 🤡

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Well I will try this again.....

 

Keep in mind that I have been and am now expressing my opinion centered on Photojournalism.

 

In my opinion, really great images document a pivotal moment in time, a moment that illustrates

a major change in the course of history, Alexndria's photo at the Berlin wall is a good example.

On another side would be Jim Marshall's photo of Johnny Cash at San Quentin Prison (not really

history changing but...)  Then there is Eddie Adams image in Viet Nam. 

 

Ian, 

What does pie have to do with it?

 

Chuck

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1 hour ago, Chuck Nacke said:

 

Ian, 

What does pie have to do with it?

 

More importantly, how can you not like pie? 🙂

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7 hours ago, Autumn Sky said:

Could not agree more.  

 

If you guys have few minutes to spare, check out this site:  https://zizka.ca/portfolio-2/

Paul is well known in Canadian Rockies.  He doesn't do only landscapes, but if you are into nature you will be awed.  I think he was doing stock too when he started.  But he is too good now and he knows it.  His prints and books are all over Banff

 

Wow Caspar David Friedrich has come back and is using a camera.

 

wim

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, Chuck Nacke said:

In my not so humble opinion,  Really Great Images do not often make for frequently licensed "Stock Images."

 

Chuck

Not when they license for $1.

Chuck, I'm adopting the acronym "RGI" from now on, if you don't mind. It should go far.

Edited by spacecadet

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On 28/02/2020 at 10:16, Matt Ashmore said:

Different images/art have their places.

 

I don't want to have to 'think deeply' every time I see an image. There are times when this is important.. other times, you just need an image which is pretty and makes you feel happy whether it tells a story or not.

 

 Matt you are right. Don't overthink it.

 

Your great people picnic image came about, because you had fun making a lot of good pictures. Lots of good images helped you develop an eye for a great image.

 

So when the chance at your great picnic picture came about, you probably reacted from your gut without a lot of thinking.

 

Most of my thinking is done later when looking at the surviving good images from the shoot. What should I have done, at the shoot, to turn this good image into a great image?

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