What is a "vision"?

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What is a "vision"? Sandy, if I understood correctly, it is an impression about a topic or subject that you reveal/express of it, at a certain preconceived situation, time & place, so as to portray your thoughts about it. Robert Adam's work would fall into this class, right? And you would have a point to make about choosing the subject matter. If this is the case, I was wrong saying that we cannot have a vision in photography.

What I want to ask here is whether "vision" is necessary (or possible) in every aspect of photographic work? Take for instance, the work of Stieglitz. His work is broad. While he may have a preconceived idea about "The Steerage" just before the exposure, he probably did not conceive the subject of rich and poor, beforehand. He was "moved" at that instance there and then. He was out there all the time doing "sensitive" pictures he could find in the streets. My point to the group is, "Would his photographs be less "sensitive" had he appointed a project (vision) for himself? Or was he out there just shooting? What about his "clouds" pictures? Your thoughts please?

As for Atget, I think now that he was "free" in his seeing because he saw his work as documents and not art.


-- Aaron (ngaaron@singnet.com.sg), December 21, 2001


Vision is needed for photography. Its hard to get somewhere when you don't know where you want to go. Stieglitz may have not conceived of the idea before he photographed the ship but an idea has to be in the picture. When it is conceived isn't so important. Its just a matter of time when the photographer understands what they are doing.

Atget is the best stock photographer ever. This is not an insult but one of the highest praise I can give to a photographer. He made photographs and then people thought of them as art. Critics, curators, gallery owners and collectors understood what he really wanted to do. Personally I think the work is okay. Hoever I respect his impact. He is lucky that Abbott took the work to New York and people liked it.

"Vision is a feedback loop" - David Payumo (I am paraphrasing. I think.)

-- David Payumo (dpayumo@rogers.com), December 21, 2001.


I have been following your threads, and even popped in on the first one concening Atget. I certainly don't pretend to know you or how you feel or what you want to say with your photography. So excuse me if I am off base for saying this, but it appears to me that you seem to be trying too hard to define one form of communication with another form of communication. Photographs are a language. More universal than any spoken language. And they speak to those who view them on a very personal and subjective level such that all of the spoken language in the world may not be able to describe the message either sent or received. Pardon me for saying so, but I think that you are trying to hard to describe photography with words. You cannot tell another person how to feel about "The Steerage" just as you cannot tell another person exactly what the words "love" or "hate" really mean. Yes you can get close, because we are all human, but you cannot be exact, which is why it is better sometimes to just allow the language to happen through the photograph itself, and not argue (discuss) what the photograph really means, or what the photographer really meant. Yes, it is possible that there could be some deep meaning that Atget wanted to present to his viewers. On the other hand, it is possible that Atget said to himself, "I see this, I think its interesting, I want to show it to other people" and thats it! I think alot of photographers sometimes are "just out there shooting" and the vision is nothing more than "I see this, I think it is interesting in my own way, and since I cannot bring it to show other people I can bring a representation of it by making a photograph of it, and that photograph will speak for me in a language that I don't have to explain (because I cannot really explain it) so I will let the viewer attach her own meaning to it, and we will have communicated" Then, of course, after those feelings comes the craft (the desire to show it in the best way possible)which is even more subjective (i.e. what film, what paper, what exposure, etc.) Kevin

-- Kevin Kolosky (kjkolosky@kjkolosky.com), December 21, 2001.

Yes Kelvin, you miss the point. Aaron

-- Aaron (ngaaron@singnet.com.sg), December 21, 2001.


By assoiciating the notion with a preconceived idea, I think you are confusing a vision with an agenda. A century ago photographers were sidetracked by imitation of painterly effects. Today academic photographic training has convinced many photographers that they must start from a preconceived, highly verbalized, program and then go out and make photographs to express the agenda. I suppose decent work can be done that way, though I see little. I think it's a serious sidetrack from photography's real strength. For me photography by its nature is at its strongest when used reactively, interpretively. An artist's reactions and interpretations are plenty of material to constitute a personal Vision, as the current thread on Weston's vintage print show in LA points out. Weston had a vision, and it may be that he had an agenda to express that vision in his photographs, but the photographs themselves were his discoveries and reactions and interpretations of the world around him, not a pre-conceived and verbalized 'statement.' Some of the worst photographic criticism I've seen (Sontag comes to mind) fails because it insists on analysing photographs as though they were a text. For a photographer to approach the making of photographs as though they constitute an expository text is, I think, an equally b

-- Carl Weese (cweese@earthlink.net), December 21, 2001.


Although he said it with different words, Carl said the same thing I did. Perhaps it is you that is "missing the point".


-- Kevin Kolosky (kjkolosky@kjkolosky.com), December 21, 2001.

still getting the end of messages chopped off...anyone know how to fix that? add a few returns at the end?

-- Carl Weese (cweese@earthlink.net), December 21, 2001.

It is possible that "vision" is something that is as much unconscious as conscious. I know that I have looked back at quick street photographs and discovered that I unconsciously included elements that made them much more powerful to me than if the placement had been a merely random "snapshot". I think the more experienced we become as photographers the more effectively we are able to pursue our vision through photography on an unconscious as well as conscious level. This is not to devalue the active process of thinking and previsualizing, but to say that it often works in tandem with processes that are unconscious. I think what made Atget a poweful photographer was his innate confidence in his conscious and unconscious ("intuitive") sense of what makes a strong image. To me, what separates good, competent photographers from powerful ones is their ability to make sense of the world's chaotic imagery through both processes. I find Stieglitz fascinating because he was so capable, and had such a pathbreaking ambition for photography. On the other hand, I find him intuitively cold and austere (except when photographing Georgia O'Keefe). There is a cold draft emanating from his work, that is so different from the work of his contemporaries like August Sanders and Paul Strand.

-- Andrew Held (Heldarc@hotmail.com), December 21, 2001.

My vision revolves around seeing a subject that personally resonates with me, then trying to communicate that feeling on paper. If the end result produces something that others enjoy, great. If it produces a finished print that I look at and can say captures how I felt when I first saw the subject, my vision has been achieved.

My vision seems to be best achieved with certain subject matter. I enjoy finding abstract subjects and found urban/suburban landscapes. I work at night also. I have learned that my vision is dependent on making images that I want to make and not images I feel I have to make because I sometimes use a large format camera.

When I first got a 4x5 I imagined producing Adamesque images of granduer. I pursued many a landscape when time would allow, but I was always disapointed. So I got an 8x10- same result. The first photo I considered grand was one taken about 10 miles from home of a flooded park and some half submerged vehicles with birds sitting on top and wonderful reflections on the water of the surrounding trees and buildings. Pretty mundane for an 8x10 image by some people's standards, but it was a return to my personal vision and subject matter.

Sometimes I think it becomes easy to try to emulate others because the medium allows us the technical ability to come close to the quality of their work. If your desire is to produce similar work and that is your vision great. But don't be afraid to explore things that only you may be interested in. You may be surprised where your "vision" may lead to.

-- James Chinn (jchinn2@dellepro.com), December 21, 2001.

No Kevin, it's not about what Carl said that's not different from what you said. It's about you saying that I'm putting my opinions about Stieglitz's image onto others. I never did. I remember reading what Stieglitz said about what he "saw" and "felt" and that he felt a release being separated from the rich (something to that effect). And as one poster pointed out in the other thread, Atget called himself a documentary photographer. So I thought he must have been "free" from a certain burden in his work. Why do we read "The Daybooks"? To understand the artist, isn't it??

Yes, I'm trying hard to communicate, because I'm the one needing help here. How am I supposed to get help if I do not open up myself to scrunity (spelling?)? And I'm getting help here (I'm learning)! Not Arguement! So please be kind.


-- Aaron (ngaaron@singnet.com.sg), December 21, 2001.


I agree with what Kevin and Carl. Photography is only one means of artistic expression. It's more a journey than a destination. The "vision" comes from within yourself. You have to dive into yourself to find it. It's an accumulation of your experience(pains and bliss), of what you have learned, of your memories of past and observations of HERE and NOW. You have to ask yourself a serious question: Do I have to use cameras to express myself? Be honest with yourself. If the anwser is a simple no, then do not take photography seriouly, there are millions of happy hobbiests in this world. If the anwser is YES, and photography as a means of expression so important for you that you can not live without it, then start to build a life around it. Your can not ask other people opinon about your photos. They are irrelavent. Do not expect to make a living out of it. It's more a sacrifice. Take your time to learn, and do not rush yourself. Try to observe THINGS. When you look at a tree in its fall glory, try to imagine yourself as that tree, feel the warm golden light on your skin. In addition to Rilke, read Van Gorh's letters, some Proust, or even some Zen books. Sometimes you have to get loose. If you have the verbal anwser for the big question of "vision", why do you need photography? Photography is a very sensual experience, enjoy it. If you do not have an an anwser to your question, be content that you do not have an anwser. To finish, I want to quote you some wisdom of 3000 years age: Do not seek fame. Do not make plans. Do not be absorbed by activities. Do not think that you know. Be aware of all that is and dwell in the infinite. Wander where there is no path. Be all that heaven gave you, but act as though you have received nothing. Be empty, that is all. The mind of a perfect man is like a mirror. It grasps nothing. It expects nothing. It reflects but does not hold. Therefore, the perfect man can act without effort.

-- hugo Zhang (jinxu_zhang@ml.com), December 21, 2001.

Aaron, you are spending way to much time trying to apply a formula or scientific technique to creativity. The bottom line, is don't take an image unless you are moved by your subject matter. I spent the last two weeks of September wandering (mostly alone) and exploring the ruins of Cedar Mesa, Utah. I only took 31 photographs, but I have five maybe six outstanding images. I took a couple just because I nearly killed myself getting to one particular ruin. The image is not impressive, but will always remind me of the ordeal I went through to get there.

Ordinary things may not move you as they do others. Only you can feel what that motivation is. I can't imagine myself finding beuty in a fork, but others might and will probably blow me away with the image. If you aren't moved by your subject, how can you expect your audience to be moved by your final image?

On the scientific end, you need the technical skills to bring what excited you to the final print. What moved you when you took the image may or may not play a role when you decide to print it. Something different may grab you months later in the darkroom. Develope the technical skills you need, then stop thinking about it. Just do it....

-- Paul Mongillo (pmongillo@thurston.com), December 21, 2001.

Hi Aaron, I'm going to answer and read the other posts second.

I love to over-simplify because I feel everybody, yourself included, makes this too hard.

Vision is simply how "I" "me" see. I'm a processor progammed by 50 years of life experiences. Tears, joys, my family, my faith, my loves, my hates, my fears, who I am. Put a scene in front of me and I "see" it differently than anyone else. It's not something that I have to go looking for, it's there. Over time I see 3 maybe 4 bodies of work that could be roughly categorized that all are a direct result of "my" vision.

Since it's built in, and I can't/ won't do much to change it, the natural fear is to say, "Does this guy have anything to say?" Well, I do or I don't. That's for others to decide. Doesn't matter because I'm not going to change and be somebody else, "Adams" "Weston" "Mann" whoever to please the masses. I'm just me, and the pictures I take go through that filter/ processor, and over time that combined vision becomes a style if you will, a signature for good or for bad.

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@lnett.com), December 21, 2001.

Hi Aaron,

To clarify what I wrote on the other thread about vision: Of course I don't mean that one sits around in a vacuum, comes up with an idea, and then goes looking for ways to express it. As others have already written eloquently in these posts, your vision does evolve over time and is made up of your experiences and your attention to the world outside yourself and well as inside yourself. That includes attention to the work of those artists who came before you, in any medium.

While it is somewhat frustrating and sometimes futile to communicate with words what is a visual experiences, I do believe it is a great help to write down your thoughts about your work and life, as someone already suggested. In school we make our students learn how to write artist's statements, and pull their work together in series. All that really helps you see what you have been doing. Remember the creative process does not stop after the shutter is released. Editing, choosing, cropping... SEEING your pictures after they are shot is equally important as making the exposure.

Yes, Carl, add a return to the end of your post and it won't cut off.


-- Sandy Sorlien (sand44@mindspring.com), December 21, 2001.


Please please do not get the impression that I want to argue with you or that I think I know all of the answers. I certainly don't. But I do know this becasue I have experienced it many many times. Two people can go to a gallery or a museum and look at photographs. And one person will say, " I see this and this and this in that photograph and I think this is what that guy was saying", and the other person will say, "well, I guess I see it this way, and I like this and this and this, but I really don't like what you liked, and I really this the guy was trying to say this instead of what you think he was trying to say". And that whole conversation can and does actually take place AFTER both people have read about the photographer and actually studied what the photographer had to say about his own work!!!!!!! Consider this. You and I could go out "crusing for snaps" as they say, and we might each at the same time see the same thing and tell each other we want to stop and photograph that thing. Heck, we might both even put our tripod in the same holes. And our prints may look exactly alike. But if you showed your print to one person and I showed mine to another person, we may each get a different expression from those people as to what the photograph means to them. And those expressions about "the photographers vision" might be completely different from what you or I felt when we made the photograph. Which is why I said before that even though we might use words to convey a little something about what we saw and felt when we exposed the film, those words may not convince the viewer because the viewed may not "see", or as you say, "have the same "vision" as you do. The bottom line is,and has to be, that the image speaks for itself. You feel something and you make the image. You present it to someone else for approval. Either they approve it or not. And if you are strong enough in your character and your belief in your "vision" you accept what they have to say for what it is, you continue to believe in yourself, you continue to expose film and make prints, and you live your life. You may never in your own lifetime have knowledge of whether other people believe you had a "vision" or not. All you can do is feel how you feel, go about your business in as comforatable a manner as is possible, live your life, and if you choose, tell other people about yourself through your words and if you are so inclined through your photographs. In addition, and it sounds simple enough, remember that a photograph is and must be about the "thing" photographed. I think too many people get mixed up about that. I might have a "vision" that we live in a beautiful world, but if I only photograph ugly things I certainly didn't go about showing my "vision" did I. And then the question becomes, is what is beautiful to me also beautiful to you. All we can do is rely on ourselves and our feelings, and put them out there to be judged, and be happy in the knowledge that we were in the arena trying our best, and every once in awhile be really happy when a viewer comes up and says they see the same thing you saw. If that happens You have then communicated, which means that another person has recognized you as having worth, and life is good! Kevin

-- Kevin Kolosky (kjkolosky@kjkolosky.com), December 21, 2001.

"Vision" is Kodak's name for its current motion picture reversal filmstocks (2383, 2393, 5242/7242, 5246/7246, etc.). It is not available in sheet film sizes, just 35mm and 70mm bulk rolls. (And, yes, I am just being a smartass!) :-)

-- Michael Chmilar (chmilar@acm.org), December 21, 2001.

A photographer's "vision' is usually something that is defined by someone looking back over a photorapher's body of work; the person doing the looking is usually someone other than the photographer and sometimes the photographer buys into that "niche' and sometimes they just keep making images of the things that interest them (which can be changable) and in ways that interest them. and ignore the pigeonholeing. Some people have their "vision" defined early on and either dig deeper into it or say that's nice and try not to take it too seriously. (it's important to take your work seriously and more important not to take yourself seriously) . this sounds that I'm dismissing the value of input from others. But I'm not, it is really great to have other people look at your work and give you feedback about it, to help you see elements & themes in your work that you either take for granted or that you just don't see. This process can open paths into your work that you just weren't aware of. You have to develop a sense of whose opinions to trust and whose not to take to heart. This , like, vision, takes time, work, doubt & sweat.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (ellis@ellisvener.com), December 21, 2001.


I just read an interview with the actor Jim Carrey in the Dec, 17, 2001 issue of the New Yorker. In it he says something that should make you feel better:

"Well I've asked for a lot, you know. I pray for wisdom, and when you pray for wisdom you get your ass kicked."

Happy holidays!

-- Ellis Vener Photography (ellis@ellisvener.com), December 21, 2001.

Three large format photographers are riding through Yosemite together. The first guy yells "Stop" and we stop while he sets up his tripod almost in Ansels tripod holes and does a picture of "Monolith Halfdome" He's bemused that neither I nor the other photog even set up a tripod. We continue on and after a bit I yell "STOP" and I set up my tripod and take a picture of the remains of a fueling station that operated in the park from 1927 to 1941. I'm careful to include line and detail that to me speaks of a previous generations style and quality and mood. The other 2 guys think I'm crazy. Eventually we proceed on and after a bit the 3rd guy yells stop. He sets up his tripod and does a picture of an illegal fire ring with beer bottles and trash lying around and just in the corner of his wide angle, almost out of focus is Yosemite falls, an Icon recognizeable by anyone.

Fiction of course but 'nuff said.

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@lnett.com), December 21, 2001.

Let me guess at the photographer's real names :

(1st photographer) Fred Picker (never had an original idea)

(2nd photographers name) John Sexton (Places of Power)

(3rd photorapher) Robert Adams (our (humanities) impact on the enviroment.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (ellis@ellisvener.com), December 21, 2001.

let's rename the photographers: #1.) Fred Picker

#2) John Sexton

#3) Robert Adams

Aaron, your homework assignment is to go find books or info about these three guys and determine why I chose them. You have six months to research and study.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (ellis@ellisvener.com), December 21, 2001.

Aaron, i believe the concept of a personal "vision" is overrated and misunderstood. Artists love to talk about their "vision" in terms that make them feel important, as if they have some special magical talent that no one else has, and you can just forget trying to "find" a vision because it's too amorphous and vague of a concept; you either have it or you don't. I believe something quite different; a person's "vision" IS a special and magical talent, totally unique in the universe; the part where I disagree with many others is in the definition of what a "vision" is, and who gets to say they have it.

My belief is that EVERYONE in the world has a "vision," which is simply defined as one's own unique perspective. The reason everyone has a unique perspective is that no two brains or experiences are the same, and so no two perspectives could possibly be the same. And so, when you say a word like "tree" to a thousand people (whether or not they are artists), they will all think of a different thing based on how their brains work and what their experiences have been. If a thousand people were to stand and look at some particular thing, or scene, they would all see something different.

In my view, then, the artist's biggest challenge is not to "develop" a unique perspective, because we all already have that built into our brains; it is to RECOGNIZE our own uniquen perspective. Strangely, though it sounds easy, this is an incredibly challenging task. We naturally assume (totally incorrectly) that everyone else sees the world in just the same way we see it, and so as we walk around in the world, although every moment of our lives is a unique experience that will never be repeated again in all the possible permutations of infinite universes, we mislead ourselves into believing we are having a mundane experience the same as everyone else's. And so we disregard the magic in front of our eyes, and wonder where the heck we can go to find something unique to photograph. And so we go to Yosemite and copy other people's work. Which, hopefully you can see, is counterproductive if our goal is to find our own unique vision.

On top of the difficult of escaping the assumptions built into our brains, there are powerful forces out there that take us in exactly the opposite direction of personal expression, that tend to make our work homogenous and derivative. For example, look at the 10,000 nature photographers out there who are all making identical images of the same places, any of which could be interchanged with each other in different photographers' shows and no one would notice. For some reason people out there think they're developing a personal "vision" by precisely copying the work of thousands of others. I think the basic need being satisfied here is the need for security.

So, without going on too long here, here's my advice: forget the large format for awhile, and go out with a 35mm camera and shoot a CRAPLOAD of film. Take pictures of everything that even remotely interests you. Try to make all the pictures good (i.e., don't just shoot for the hell of it), and look at everything you shoot from every angle and perspective you can think of. Shoot during the day, during the night, with wide angle, telephoto, color and B&W, grainy film and sharp film, long exposures and short, with a tripod and without. And then look, look, look HARD at the results. Out every 1000 photos you shoot, 999 of them will be crap, but then once every 1000 frames or so, you will see something that will make your heart jump a little because you'll think "hey, I've never seen a photo quite like that one before." That is your personal perspective showing through.

Okay, that's all for now. Write me privately if you want to discuss further.

Oh, and one other thing: Only take artistic advice from people whose work you respect. So, check out mine, and either strike me off the list of people who you want to hear from, or write me.

~chris jordan (Seattle)


-- chris jordan (cjordan@yarmuth.com), December 21, 2001.

You pick something to photograph, and you present it in an interesting way. That is vision. Or you write, or sculpt, or paint.

You do this for yourself, or for recognition(whether you want to admit it or not), and/or in addition to being paid. You get good, or very good, or great at it, after awhile. You enjoy doing something you know you can do very well, and it validates and fulfills you.

No matter what you've done, you think you can do better, and if you see someone above you, or ahead of you, then you try to pull yourself up to where they are. If whoever is ahead or above you is secure within themselves they have no problem extending a hand to pull you up to where they are. They don't mind this because they will always be them, and you will always be you.

Then we all share. In the vision and the Art. Art was put here to serve us, for us to enjoy, and whatever gift we have for being able to see what few others can see, we have so that we can share with others. In a dark room, if you are lucky enough to have a flashlight, then you show everyone in the room the way.

-- Jonathan Brewer (lifestories@earthlink.net), December 21, 2001.

Aaron.....as I've said before you've clearly got an itch you can't scratch. You've got all this advice, and as some folks have suggested you need to think about things, then make some choices and changes, change gears, change cameras, travel, read, and while your're doing that pick somebody out and ride with them.

Chris Jordans suggestion of a switch to 35mm is a good one, maybe you don't shoot enough to develop/discover you style/vision or whatever your 'feelgood' or 'comfortzone' is.

-- Jonathan Brewer (lifestories@earthlink.net), December 21, 2001.

Well said, Mr. Jordan. Much of what you said I think I said also but in a different way. The only thing I would add is that when you take out that 35mm camera and shoot tons of film, try and shoot it on something that you really really care about. I don't care if its a person, or a tree, or a mountain, or a car, or whatever in the hell it is. Just make sure you care about what you shoot. Why I say that is because I do think that photographers do better (subjectively) when they have an emotional stake in what they are photographing, be it whether that emotional stake is genuine care, or whether the emotion is the desire to do well for someone who is paying you money for the photograph. I disagree with those who would complain about "originality". Heck, if a photograph is well done and provides viewing enjoyment for me then I don't care who did it first or how many times it has been done. I also disagree that one can only learn photography from those who photograph, or that only those who photograph can critique photographs. Those who photograph might be able to teach craft or style, but they can't teach feeling or art which is sensed rather than learned. Okay, I'm done. I won't say no more. Kevin

-- Kevin Kolosky (kjkolosky@kjkolosky.com), December 21, 2001.

Kevin's last statement was correct - you don't have to learn photograpy from photographers or photographs. I learned most about light on buildings from Edward Hopper's work (painter). Read novels by visually attuned people like Wright Morris or Wallace Stegner.

I think the work that endures is, above all else, persuasive. It is so heartfelt, so true to that ineffable thing we are calling "vision," that the viewer with an open mind and heart will be persuaded and will respond.

Thanks for starting this interesting conversation.

-- Sandy Sorlien (sand44@mindspring.com), December 21, 2001.

No, Chris. How could you go back to 35mm from LF? What makes LF so addictive is the challenges and rewards it represents. Tell me you feel the same when you look at THINGS on 8x10 ground glass. What about that sensual sharpness and special texture and glow of contact print? The time you spend to contemplate about compositions and zones behind that dark cloth and the pounding of your heart the moment you press the shutter when you know you are getting something good. The heaviness of your gears and the endless hours you spend in the darkroom trying to craft a fine print. The lonliness and joy. LF can be a powerful tool of artistic expression. But the physical and emotional involvement of it can also be an unique experience and be an end by itself. I know some people who shoots 8x10 and has not developed the negs for the last three years. You do not have shoot 1,000 frames to get good. Better time might be spent to look at good pictures, specially good paintings. I can go weeks without a single exposure. If I have nothing to say, I just keep quiet.

-- hugo Zhang (jinxu_zhang@ml.com), December 21, 2001.

20/20 in the one eye and pretty screwed up in the other. But I get by.

-- Erik X (xx@xx.com), December 21, 2001.

Sandy....I learned a lot about composition and lighting from paintings.

Hugo......Aaron is spinning out in his Ferrari, why not go back to the go-kart, mini-racer, or whatever to work on his technique?

He sure doesn't need to take the hour or whatever to set his LF gear to take one shot which has a good chance of not living up to his expectations, according to what he's told us. Get out the thirty five gear and shoot, but without getting sloppy. He'll mess up plenty, but he'll come up with a number of 'keepers'.

You might consider something unrelated to photography that encourages focus and mental discipline. I played chess a lot, but don't have the time anymore. My woodworking helps me to make better images.

I know LF is going to work for me because of my woodworking. All you have to do to be able to tell if a woodworker can stay focused is count his fingers. If he cannot stay focused, cannot concentrate, shut everything else out except what he/or she is doing, he will have less than ten.

-- Jonathan Brewer (lifestories@earthlink.net), December 21, 2001.

aaron - shooting lots of film with a portable camera is a really good idea, it can help you refine. writing your thoughts down is a can help too. not just in a discussion forum - but maybe in some sort of a journal that you keep - words can sometimes lead to pictures. god luck - john

-- john nanian (jak@gis.net), December 21, 2001.

Sounds to me like you want to find yourself Aaron. This is really the highest and most demanding of life endeavors. Not many are up to the task... but if you will ...start small by doing little things well... and with excellence.Make a good meal...take care of a plant and make it grow...walk down the street with awareness and a sense of immediateness. Learn from all and listen to no one. And after a life time of search and study you may reach your goal.

-- Emile de Leon (knightpeople@msn.com), December 21, 2001.

Keep it coming in. I'm still listening. Aaron

-- Aaron (ngaaron@singnet.com.sg), December 22, 2001.

What is "vision"? Well, we already have reality to the extent that we can apprehend it through our sensory organs. To attempt to duplicate reality not only inevitably ends in failure since no technology is able to reproduce human sensory experience in all its manifold complexity. To compound the problem, the attempt at duplication may also impede our direct apprehension of the raw reality before us, so we fall between two stools. How many of us have found our photographic activity interfering with our participation in or observation of the event which is our subject? Snapshot photography does fulfill a number of very valuable functions, emotional as well as documentary, but my point here is that the goal of the medium is clearly not to attain or approach as closely as possible the replication of the subject.

Instead, some kind of "interpretation" is involved--selection, emphasis, simplification, transmutation, etc. The process engages the physiology of the human brain, the photographer's own past experiences, the cultural setting at that time and place, the particular moment in the photographic tradition, and so on--a complex situation that's going to vary from photographer to photographer and from image to image, so obviously no pat formula can be defended. But one question I do find worth asking is, whether my or your vision is of any value or interest to a wider viewership or is it merely a quircky expression of an individual's mood or setting when the shutter was released? To the extent it's the former, then I think we can talk about the photographer getting at something of importance or essential in the subject.

Working out and expressing this "interpretation" necessarily requires equipment, materials, experience, skills and technique appropriate to the task--in short, the craft. Through larger format films and camera movements, the LF photographer is given the opportunity to practice the craft at a higher level--more options permitting the possibility of more satisfactory results, results that correspond to the original "vision."

I fully realize how limited a take on photography this is. I revere the particular--my wife and me at Vernal Fall, my daughters blowing out birthday candles, my son sitting on Santa's lap, the disposable cameras that come home from the Prom that I pay to have developed and all rest. When Andy Wharhol hit back in the 60s, I was so impressed that I created a museum of everyday commercial "art" in my bedroom, complete with a full set of Campbell's soup can labels. All I'm trying to understand here is that part of my photographic life that applies in the medium of large format. But it's probable that all photography involves a "vision" of some kind or other. Nick.

-- Nick Jones (nfjones@stargate.net), December 22, 2001.

i,m looking for release form for photographer

-- don cox (riioart@aol.com), April 08, 2002.

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