encouraging consumption and always asking for something new, seem to have made producing quick projects ever more common

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At the risk of sounding like that old scratchy record again, what I’m looking for in photography is something that turns me into a different person, something that I need to come back to, something that when I come back to it looks and feels at least slightly different even though it’s the same images. I believe such photography comes from a photographer who has undergone a transformation her/himself. In part, that is why some projects take a long time to do: It’s not just that taking the photographs takes time, it’s also that their maker evolves along with the images.

via Conscientious.

There Are 7 Comments On This Article.

  1. Ok, disclaimer: I am not a photographer. I am a painter and a prop stylist. But, I just have to respond to this….”what I’m looking for in photography is something that turns me into a different person…. such photography comes from a photographer who has undergone a transformation her/himself.”

    I can absolutely see this comment from a Museum Curator, looking for art that is transformative. But, really, does an art buyer for advertising need to see this to hire a photographer? Really? The photographer is going to be shooting models or product or product with models or, any of a number of things that need to sell a product.

    I don’t mean to be crass, and I DO think the photography needs to have an amazing quality of feeling, lighting, design, evocative of any number of things. But transformative, from a photographer having a transformation experience? I just don’t see how every time you shoot an image you can be doing that. Nor would you want to. Sometimes consistent excellence is enough.

  2. To Nancy:
    Yes, an art buyer SHOULD expect this. That is what a REAL pro brings to the table. Allow enough time, in both pre-production & shooting, to let the scene develop, play out, let the opportunities present themselves to the photographer. Why else would the AB search through portfolios and websites to find an appropriate vision for a job? If they didn’t expect something above & beyond the layout ( intangible elements – VISION & CREATIVITY) then just hire the cheapest guy/gal who knows how to setup a light. Granted, some agencies do exactly that, then lament the mediocre work that is produced… and the point of the post is that in the new world of “just in time” marketing, where the creative is seen as something that can be shipped by FedEx overnight and be dropped in by 10:30am to the layout going to press @ 11am, this level of excellence is suffering. And usually not due to a poor choice of talent, but for not allowing enough time to make the creative happen. I have experienced this just recently… insufficient time in pre-pro, AD consistently showing up late for shoots and then being lost on their smartphone and unavailable to collaborate… Results in the perfect scenario presenting itself – just as the clock ran out on talent & location. We fudged it in post… but it was a ‘good-enough’ solution. Mediocrity is the new excellence.
    In the end, after all the type & logo is stripped out, I want to have a piece of ‘art’ for my portfolio. An image that does exactly as Rob posted above…

    • @Kevin Brusie,

      Let’s not forget that a lot of the folks working in ad firms are artists themselves. Making ads pays the bills – for me and for them. But there’s still an artist there.

      I get more commissions from my personal work than anything else. The commissions showcase technical know-how and convey “this person can work with others”, but the personal work showcases pure vision.

    • @Kevin Brusie,

      “SHOULD” is a fantasy word. Should has little relevance to ‘IS’ in this industry. What Joerg Colberg describes is nothing new in the advertising industry, though it may be perceived as more acute than it’s been in the past.

      More often than not image makers are hired on hype and because their images fit the creative concept – not based on “vision”. The ad/cd loves your work, then wants to use your technical/product skills to produce their own “vision”.
      (Consider the number of stock images used for comps and final art, as well as the adherence to that comp in creation of a new image).

      Vision, transformation, creativity may happen on rare occasion in the (self absorbed) advertising world. The transformation of creator which produces the byproduct of art in the fine art world is often a whole other level than that which happens in ‘applied’ arts.

      What happens in the creation of art vs applied art is very different. In the later there is a goal, a deadline, a specific communication to craft. In “Art” there is no goal, deadline or specific communication to craft. The Art we see is the byproduct of the artist trying to understand, resolve, transform. When the artist learns, grows and transforms his/her consciousness through the creation of their work it is that transformation experienced (by self and viewer) which is perceived as Art.

      Advertising is advertising – a vehicle to sell goods and services.
      Art is a means of growth, understanding, transformation.
      Art is (often) created through process. It takes time.
      Applied arts (advertising) does not allow this process to develop.
      Both Art and applied art may use the same materials to create an artifact.

  3. Hi Kevin. I did NOT say that the art buyer shouldn’t find “an appropriate vision for a job”, nor “hire the cheapest guy/gal who knows how to set up a light.” That would be ridiculous and demeaning, and is not at all a representation of my comments.

    I DID say that in my opinion expecting every photo “to transform me…” and that the photo would be produced by the photographer having him or herself “undergone a transformation,” seems a little over-the-top.

    During the best photoshoots that I have worked on, the photographer, the art director, the stylist (food or prop), and, indeed, the photograph itself, has been “transformed” by the evolution of shared vision and respectful teamwork.

  4. Joe Schuyler

    Photography provides for the evolution of a person. is it art, documentation, news etc. Doesn’t really matter. It is a window to a world outside ourselves, a world which the gifted can interpret so that others can understand.

  5. With all do respect – I don’t think Joerg Colberg (of Conscientious) was speaking of advertising with this comment – and think it is being taken out of context with many of these responses. Advertising, for those in denial, is all about selling product. While some advertising may transcend the norm and latch onto an interesting or unique style, we can’t forget that the end result is profits, and not artistic merit.

    The difference between a long term project by either a documentary or fine art photographer, and a paying gig to shoot a model, product or “lifestyle” is contrived. One has a personal vision that, if it is strong and the artist motivated for the long haul, supersedes any corporate vision in the world. It is that kind of work that will allow a photographer to be changed themselves through a project, and give an exciting gift for readers to explore.

    I know this blog is biased towards the editorial and commercial worlds. However, the reference above, like even the best photograph – if it is taken out of context – doesn’t make much sense.