Luck or Art?


artspraken

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Some famous street photographers are famous for a series of photos. But to narrow down to that small series, these famous photographers have taken hundreds of thousands of shots, maybe millions, in their career.

Of course, nowadays we praise these photographers with many fancy superlatives. We seek to emulate everything they do.

In a BBC documentary on photography, I noticed that some supposedly genre-starting and "famous" photographer used his camera like a machine gun, and took multiple shots of the same sequence - only to select that one particular picture that looked "arty".

But I have often wondered - if it takes so many snaps to pick out one good snap - is it luck or art?
 

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dingaroo

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I suppose both?

Art is when you set up the scene to look the way you want it.

Luck is when you are at the scene at that specific moment and a vista opens up to him/her.

Just my 2 cents.

Cheers!
 

artspraken

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I was told this post too general, might be moved to general section of CS. This discussion is for RF photography only. Do not move this to other forum pls.

To entrench this in RF context, I want to point out the photographer to whom I was alluding is Garry Winogrand (he uses Rangefinders, not DSLR), and the picture I was thinking of as example of one good snap out of many bad snaps is here.

This famous picture actually got many different snaps taken. Winogrand just selected one good snap out of many in the negatives he keeps. The BBC documentary I watched shows all the negatives as a result of his machine gun shooting.

So the point of discussion is - LUCK OR ART? WINOGRAND REALLY SO GOOD MEH?


For eg, here is another lesser version which we seldom see
 

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artspraken

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I refer to http://2point8.whileseated.org/2010/01/31/reconsidering-winogrand/

I refer to quote below.

If you take "hundreds of thousands of negatives", surely got some are good right?

Winogrand’s is the work of a serious artist (though he’d cleanly deny it) dedicated to seeing his project through to completion, even if, in his own case, it wasn’t exactly clear what the project was, or how it might end. Hard work would figure it out. Hard work would leave behind the four foot high piles of prints, the hundreds of thousands of negatives.
 

artspraken

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I refer to http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1256720&postcount=23

Credits to Mr. Crawford. Reproduced for easy reading below.

Looks like the artist is the publisher who selected which photographs to publish. The artist was not the photographer.

The thing is Winogrand DIDN'T create a body of work out of all that. Hell, he left 9000 rolls of unprocessed film when he died, 3 yrs worth of shooting he never bothered to even look at. John Szarkowski is the real author of the Winogrand legacy, he directed the creation of Winogrands books, exhibits, and largely created the image of Winogrand the artist. Without Szarkowski's patronage, Winogrand would have been nothing. A.D. Coleman called Winogrand a monkey with a camera randomly snapping photos of anything, while his handler picked out the 'good stuff'. I agree,
__________________
Christopher Crawford
Fine Art Photography
Fort Wayne, Indiana
 

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Redshutter

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It is up to you to decide whether the piece of work in front of you is art or junk. Personally I'm not a big fan of Garry Winogrand... but since you are picking him as an example and his style of work are obviously street photography, with that being said, there is no way you can control anything on street photography, other than choosing your own position, as the photographer, to capture your subjects. That should said enough about street photography.
 

Redshutter

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I refer to http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1256720&postcount=23

Credits to Mr. Crawford. Reproduced for easy reading below.

Looks like the artist is the publisher who selected which photographs to publish. The artist was not the photographer.
well... don't really think it is necessary to rumble about such things now isn't it? We can easily also argue, that if it is really that easy for Garry Winogrand to machine gun his way to captures all these images... why not the publisher himself do it? or anybody else?
 

mamypoko

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Dec 18, 2007
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You can't control the street, so in a part it is luck. If you could control it then it wouldn't be street anymore.

Art is getting the composition just right when the shutter opens.

If you are going to wait for the perfect moment, and to use only 1 exposure to get it right, good luck to you.

Even digital photographers these days take hundreds of shots but end up only using a few selected images, even in studio settings.
 

Srono

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Mar 20, 2006
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What i think is that you need to work hard. If you already have good eyes, good skill, then with higher volume you take, more good keepers you have.

Robert Frank took 28000 shots to make The Americans (83 photos).
HCB took many thousands in his US road trip but didn't publish any book on that.

Well, someone may think she would come out with same iconic book if I had 28000 photos. It could be true! But, please do the IF part first ;)

BTW, it is interesting to look at the contact sheet of famous photographers. I learnt that they DID take large number of shots on their subject, many iconic photos were cropped.
 

dtohs

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Thanks for stating this thread, I did my fair share of ‘machine gunning’ (MG), I remember I did not have any significant results then, i still don't now..(I used to shoot film, I think I still have undeveloped film in my house somewhere..).

The truth is (I speak for myself) I don’t question whether it is coincidence when looking at someone’s work, and whether it was done thru one shot, three shots or thru “machine gun”.

For me really I feel what’s vital is what message I want to capture when I take my shots, and these initial thoughts may change when I monitor closer right after I took that shot.

I gather art could be created without an intention, and in photography I take account of pre-mature / delay fire, miscalculated exposure or s.speed, and also unforeseen elements, e.g. like a pair of humping dogs in the far-flung corner that i didn’t see while firing and only realized when i see it in print or on my screen much later.

In short, I am a believer that art can be created without an intention, but one cannot present his/her work without an intention. I speak for myself cause I shoot a lot on the street and i am slow and everything else moves faster than me.

Like everything else in most serious hobbies including photography, i think we should give each other more slack and even more encouragement.
 

nordleadx

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Thanks for stating this thread, I did my fair share of ‘machine gunning’ (MG), I remember I did not have any significant results then, i still don't now..(I used to shoot film, I think I still have undeveloped film in my house somewhere..).

The truth is (I speak for myself) I don’t question whether it is coincidence when looking at someone’s work, and whether it was done thru one shot, three shots or thru “machine gun”.

For me really I feel what’s vital is what message I want to capture when I take my shots, and these initial thoughts may change when I monitor closer right after I took that shot.

I gather art could be created without an intention, and in photography I take account of pre-mature / delay fire, miscalculated exposure or s.speed, and also unforeseen elements, e.g. like a pair of humping dogs in the far-flung corner that i didn’t see while firing and only realized when i see it in print or on my screen much later.

In short, I am a believer that art can be created without an intention, but one cannot present his/her work without an intention. I speak for myself cause I shoot a lot on the street and i am slow and everything else moves faster than me.

Like everything else in most serious hobbies including photography, i think we should give each other more slack and even more encouragement.
:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:

to me, its luck and art. both are important, the eye for the right pic and tone... with help of luck , something magical can be created.

nothing to do with having a Leica or Canon.. to me its a passion driving the desire to capture...
 

Shawn

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Oct 19, 2006
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to me, its luck and art. both are important, the eye for the right pic and tone... with help of luck , something magical can be created.

nothing to do with having a Leica or Canon.. to me its a passion driving the desire to capture...
:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:::Agreed!!! Even my iPhone can create lovely art:D love it to bits.
 

nordleadx

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:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:::Agreed!!! Even my iPhone can create lovely art:D love it to bits.
Art to me is abt expression . why bother abt the technical bits, like how many shots, machine gunning and what ever. How HCB shot might not suit everyone's style, how I shoot might not suit others too.

But I am grateful for all of them for sharing these inspiring pics that adds more drive to my passion to capture.

Just my thoughts and pardon me if I speak too much
 

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night86mare

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Aug 25, 2006
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can you take something that winogrand took that he is famous for?

if you can't, then please wait until you have taken that shot.

of course if everyone machine gunned, sooner or later they would get a good photograph - but a good photographer is more likely to maximize a good opportunity than a half-past-six photographer, that's the main difference.
 

night86mare

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I was told this post too general, might be moved to general section of CS. This discussion is for RF photography only. Do not move this to other forum pls.

To entrench this in RF context, I want to point out the photographer to whom I was alluding is Garry Winogrand (he uses Rangefinders, not DSLR), and the picture I was thinking of as example of one good snap out of many bad snaps is here.

This famous picture actually got many different snaps taken. Winogrand just selected one good snap out of many in the negatives he keeps. The BBC documentary I watched shows all the negatives as a result of his machine gun shooting.

So the point of discussion is - LUCK OR ART? WINOGRAND REALLY SO GOOD MEH?


For eg, here is another lesser version which we seldom see
your lack of attention to detail is appalling.

at a quick glance, i can tell you why the top photo is far superior to the bottom. expression, timing, angle, all these beat the bottom photo hands down, that is why winogrand is winogrand, and unknown photographer is unknown photographer.
 

osocan

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Dec 29, 2007
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A bit OT ... I dont think the second picture was taken by Winogrand.
 

wongsan

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Oct 20, 2009
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My take:

"You have to be good to be lucky....and you have to be lucky to be recognised as good"
 

chiif

Senior Member
Whether it's luck or art, the photographer first have to take out the camera out and shoot and document Life. Most great photographers became great just because they spend their entire life just doing that and they became good and then great.

Since this is such a broad topic for discussion, I OT a little, sharing this article my good friend sent me this afternoon...

click here