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David Kilpatrick

Three years on - 30 Keys article

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3) Get Close – this is not just the old advice for movie-makers rehashed, ‘if it hasn’t worked you were not close enough’. It’s also a bit of visual psychology. Closer viewpoints connect to the viewer better than distant telephoto shots even if the subject has the same scale in the shot. I do not mean use an ultrawide lens and shoot from inches away, simply don’t rely on your 70-200mm for everyday shooting. Your images will lose immediacy. Henri Cartier-Bresson understood this well.

 

Since I stopped taking those obligatory travel-marketing sunsets, I no longer use a telephoto lens. I smile when newbies say they are shooting candids with a long lens from a darkened doorway. People pictures require the shooter to make a double exposure: he/she must expose themselves to make an exposure of the subject. 

 

​Cartier-Bresson's greatest talent was anticipating the moment. 

 

I've taken till today to reply to this reply. 

I looked a bit into Henri Cartier-Bresson and I was blown away. It led me down a really slippy road and now I'm thinking of buying my first film camera. There's a magic to film shots. A mystery, and drama that I sincerely believe has been lost in digital. I want to know what that is like. I'm now in the hunt for a Canon AE-1 Program 35mm SLR. 

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I've taken till today to reply to this reply. 

I looked a bit into Henri Cartier-Bresson and I was blown away. It led me down a really slippy road and now I'm thinking of buying my first film camera. There's a magic to film shots. A mystery, and drama that I sincerely believe has been lost in digital. I want to know what that is like. I'm now in the hunt for a Canon AE-1 Program 35mm SLR. 

 

 

No offense Paul, but there isn't a magic and mystery to film shots per se.  Although there may well soon be a mystery as to where to buy the film, and then get it processed.

 

I can just about stretch the argument for continued use of film for high profile fine art photographers, and higher-end specialist film wedding photographers - but it is entirely based on the romanticism of using film as a commercial value proposition. There the costs and risk of using film (having to send it off, or process it yourself, and the singular copy of the image) are offset by the potential for higher rewards in sales (because the customers have the same romanticism) but in terms of practicality of capture, backup, storage, costs, and flexibility there really is no comparison to the digital environment you have found yourself in for the entirety of your photographic experience.

 

I shot film for 16 years before buying my very first digital camera 13-14 years ago (a 1MP fuji finepix, closely followed by a Canon 10D as soon as it became affordable). It wasn't mysterious or magic back then I can assure you, other than that very first time in a darkroom seeing a print appear. The quality of the end product from neg film is comparatively very poor to a digital file especially at anything over ISO 400, and slide film less forgiving and a nightmare to then transform into and end product. From a commercial point of view for stock & news there isn't a comparison - for the majority you couldn't run a stock business on the cost model of film/slide with the returns we now see and you couldn't compete at all in news even with ninja level dev&processing skills and a tank of chemicals in your boot.

 

Considering film based photography based on that era might be likened to lusting after Pammy based on her early Baywatch performances and then waking up next to the reality of today.

 

But of course this isn't about the commercial considerations or indeed Ms Anderson.

 

By all means pick up some kit of course why not and it wouldn't be a huge amount - but don't expect it to transform your photography into a magical and dramatic set of frames. If Cartier-Bresson was buying a camera for himself for Christmas he'd be getting a Fuji XE-2 make no mistake. The art is in the eye, and the approach, not in the technology or lack of it, within the camera body, and if you want the look and feel of the end result then Lightroom or PS will handle that for you. You can get high-end fibre prints made from a digital file as you could from a neg - you only have to take a look at Joe Buissink's wedding prints created by master printer Robert Cavalli to see that. More of an issue now is the familiarity, and in many cases objection of the general public in having photographs taken of or around them. In many cases, especially in the UK, you wouldn't get the same oblivious, or camera-aware decisive moment as Bresson could back then.

 

You should take a look at the Don McCullin (Canon propaganda) video when he shoots with Jeff Ascough and "discovers" digital. Staged as it is as a discussion between the two of them I genuinely believe his sentiments from the viewpoint of a die-hard film shooter about the benefits and about what really matters when you make an image.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Psnp2vXblfQ

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Yes, Mark, that's me. It is now in other hands and not the same magazine. I should have kept f2 (Freelance) but rather rashly let it go when the figures stopped adding up. The new owners had a simple answer - stop paying anything for writing or pictures, and suddenly the figures make a profit, even if what you get for free is not exactly the same as what you get when you pay for it. A lesson, I guess, learned from most of the UK's newspaper groups and many other media.

 

Glad to hear that you are still in the "game" :-)

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3) Get Close – this is not just the old advice for movie-makers rehashed, ‘if it hasn’t worked you were not close enough’. It’s also a bit of visual psychology. Closer viewpoints connect to the viewer better than distant telephoto shots even if the subject has the same scale in the shot. I do not mean use an ultrawide lens and shoot from inches away, simply don’t rely on your 70-200mm for everyday shooting. Your images will lose immediacy. Henri Cartier-Bresson understood this well.

 

Since I stopped taking those obligatory travel-marketing sunsets, I no longer use a telephoto lens. I smile when newbies say they are shooting candids with a long lens from a darkened doorway. People pictures require the shooter to make a double exposure: he/she must expose themselves to make an exposure of the subject. 

 

​Cartier-Bresson's greatest talent was anticipating the moment. 

 

I've taken till today to reply to this reply. 

I looked a bit into Henri Cartier-Bresson and I was blown away. It led me down a really slippy road and now I'm thinking of buying my first film camera. There's a magic to film shots. A mystery, and drama that I sincerely believe has been lost in digital. I want to know what that is like. I'm now in the hunt for a Canon AE-1 Program 35mm SLR. 

 

 

Good for you. Film is not the same as digital pushed through a make-it-look-like-film software. It may get close, but it never gets there (how can it? I know it's faked, you know it's faked, just as skill is being replaced by camera technology!). Film is different. It's not just the look, it is also how you get there. A joy to view (Xmas pressie!) is this book from Erwitt. A large book where you really see how the character of colour film meets skill to create a wonderful collection of photographs. Of course, from a commercial point of view, digital is way ahead. But commerce is not everything is it?

 

On the topic of digital being way ahead, (the point about camera technology), the consequence of digital technology just hit the photographer profession in Austria. The Austrian high court just ruled that "Professional Photographer" status (a registered profession which did require formal training, proof of skills etc) is no longer a recognized/regulated profession. The court's ruling (sorry only in German) is based on the development of digital technology which has eliminated the need for special skills to make photographs. Anyone can now be a "Professional Photographer". No skills needed. 

Edited by Mark

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That ruling repays careful reading, or Google translating at least. It's a bit narrower than 'no skills needed', it's about restraint of trade and the unfairness that press photographers were not regulated. Digital photography was just used as an example to show that some of the skills were no longer essential.

As far as I can see the law was struck down because it wasn't necessary to protect public health and safety or to protect people's money.

There was a scare about this here 25 years ago, that this sort of regulation would seep throughout the EU but it never happened. Had it done so I suspect many Alamy photographers would have been prevented from making a living, as they would have been in Austria. Until now.

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Guest

On the topic of digital being way ahead, (the point about camera technology), the consequence of digital technology just hit the photographer profession in Austria. The Austrian high court just ruled that "Professional Photographer" status (a registered profession which did require formal training, proof of skills etc) is no longer a recognized/regulated profession. The court's ruling (sorry only in German) is based on the development of digital technology which has eliminated the need for special skills to make photographs. Anyone can now be a "Professional Photographer". No skills needed.

Actually special skills are needed to 'make' photographs, no special skills are needed to take photographs. It's a distinction frankly all too often lost on articles about volume photography.

 

I beg to disagree with the article from the OP, it's about some areas of stock...not about stock. Stock has moved on greatly in the past six months, let alone three years. Also to characterise microstockers as having their throats cut or words to that effect is simply showing a bias that doesn't stand up to the facts. When the average image on Shutterstock makes more money than the average on Alamy, you really do need to look at both the wider market and the way that Alamy works.

Edited by Guest

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Actually special skills are needed to 'make' photographs, no special skills are needed to take photographs. It's a distinction frankly all too often lost on articles about volume photography.

 

 

 

That is a completely erroneous statement. To think that placing a subject in a frame and activating a set of lights is skillful . . . well, nobody even had to teach me that, it's so obvious. No special skills are needed to take BAD photographs. That would be true . . . but to find and take good photographs is another matter entirely. That certainly requires a number of skills, all done on the run, quickly and precisely. One must deal with composition, lighting, what to include in a frame and that decisive moment when to click the shutter. These are not skills? They most certainly are skills. 

 

Yes, DavidK was talking about a specific part of stock photography and so are you. Just not the same part. 

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Skills, yes, but the Austrian ruling was about whether the public needed to be protected from photographers without a specific set of them, and they decided not. We're not doctors. The market can decide.

Edited by spacecadet

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Skills, yes, but the Austrian ruling was about whether the public needed to be protected from photographers without a specific set of them, and they decided not. We're not doctors. The market can decide.

 

Mark, you'll forgive me if I don't much care what the Austrians are up to of late. There was this Austrian guy a while back who tried to redesign the World to his way of thinking. He failed. In my part of the World, the Supreme Court decided that corporations are people and have the same rights as people under our Constitution. A pox on both these houses. 

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It may not affect you, Ed, but a decision such as this in a national court of an EU member state may come to inform the body of EU law which impinges on us EU residents in many ways, so you'll forgive me for commenting on it.

Edited by spacecadet
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Your comments are always welcome, Mark. And the decision may well affect me.  Like all of us here, I operate in an international market.  So I will spit in their direction.

 

I keep having to remind people that I lived in Europe for 16 years, and my stock agencies have always been European. 

Edited by Ed Rooney

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Actually special skills are needed to 'make' photographs, no special skills are needed to take photographs. It's a distinction frankly all too often lost on articles about volume photography.

 

 

 

That is a completely erroneous statement. To think that placing a subject in a frame and activating a set of lights is skillful . . . well, nobody even had to teach me that, it's so obvious. No special skills are needed to take BAD photographs. That would be true . . . but to find and take good photographs is another matter entirely. That certainly requires a number of skills, all done on the run, quickly and precisely. One must deal with composition, lighting, what to include in a frame and that decisive moment when to click the shutter. These are not skills? They most certainly are skills. 

 

Yes, DavidK was talking about a specific part of stock photography and so are you. Just not the same part. 

 

 

You've completely misunderstood, your statement is the same as mine. You create a picture by decisions taken before you press the button. The more 'creative' the input, the more you create rather than take an image. If you read the whole of the previous, the point was that just because you can press a shutter with modern technology, it doesn't make you anything other than a button presser as opposed to an image creator or photographer in the true sense.

 

Volume photography has become, IMO, about the taking of the image over and above the creating of an image. What is quite clear is that the areas of stock where more creative decions are taken (as in to create and not the artistic element), the better the returns and the further from 'volume work' you get.

 

The quote was regarding the Austrian court and said 'make' as opposed to take photographs - the former the province of image makers. As you said, the court seems to have taken the pressing of the shutter as the sole province of being a photographer, quite wrongly even in the true sense of a painter of light.

 

I used the words quite precisely in their actual senses.

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Okay, Geoff, if I've misunderstood or misinterpreted you, I apologize. I can see where I might have. 

 

In photography, and with all creative work, there is a series of decisions that add up to a bigger decision: the final image. That sounds grandiose, but you know what I mean.  :)

 

I listened to a tape today. It was Frank Sinatra talking about the nuts and bolts of singing, how he used to swim underwater as a child to build breath control, and how he learned more about controlled breathing from the great trombone player, Tommie Dorsey.  Anyone doing anything creative would benefit from hearing that tape. 

 

Again, sorry, Geoff.

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PS: Here's a cell phone camera contest on my local radio station, WNYC. No prizes of course, just crowd sourcing. 

 

http://www.wnyc.org/story/best-best-your-2013-cell-phone-photos/?utm_source=showpage&utm_media=treatment&utm_campaign=featured&utm_content=item0

 

At the moment, I would say the picture-taking tourists on Mulberry Street are divided between 60% cellphone shooters, 40% DSLR carriers, and just a few people using the new pro-level mirrorless boxes. I wonder what the spring will bring? By the way, this was a very busy weekend on The Street, despite the inclement weather.  :)

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Okay, Geoff, if I've misunderstood or misinterpreted you, I apologize. I can see where I might have. 

 

In photography, and with all creative work, there is a series of decisions that add up to a bigger decision: the final image. That sounds grandiose, but you know what I mean.  :)

 

I listened to a tape today. It was Frank Sinatra talking about the nuts and bolts of singing, how he used to swim underwater as a child to build breath control, and how he learned more about controlled breathing from the great trombone player, Tommie Dorsey.  Anyone doing anything creative would benefit from hearing that tape. 

 

Again, sorry, Geoff.

 

No worries Ed, Gene Smith was the photographer I most admired when I started in photography. Chuck in Pete Turner and that's the exhibition I will pay good money to go see.

 

:)

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Okay, Geoff, if I've misunderstood or misinterpreted you, I apologize. I can see where I might have. 

 

In photography, and with all creative work, there is a series of decisions that add up to a bigger decision: the final image. That sounds grandiose, but you know what I mean.  :)

 

I listened to a tape today. It was Frank Sinatra talking about the nuts and bolts of singing, how he used to swim underwater as a child to build breath control, and how he learned more about controlled breathing from the great trombone player, Tommie Dorsey.  Anyone doing anything creative would benefit from hearing that tape. 

 

Again, sorry, Geoff.

 

No worries Ed, Gene Smith was the photographer I most admired when I started in photography. Chuck in Pete Turner and that's the exhibition I will pay good money to go see.

 

:)

 

 

Pete Turner was one of the photographers I interviewed for the portfolio book I did for Nikon. He taught me the special dupe-making method he used to copy Kodachromes onto Kodachrome. I can see your interest in him, Geoff; he was (most of the time) a fine photo illustrator. All of us seem to admire Smith. But hopefully, we won't try to design our lives on his. 

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