the photoshooter's journey from taking to making

APPEARS TO BE…..

Stylistically, I can say, without fear of refutation, that this is, um...a photograph.

Stylistically, I can say, without fear of refutation, that this is, um…a photograph. Ain’t it? 

By MICHAEL PERKINS

I RECALL, MANY YEARS AGO, WHEN THE JUICIEST COMPLIMENT I COULD IMAGINE SNAGGING for a photograph was that “it looks just like a postcard”. That is to say, “the picture you’ve made looks like another picture someone else made while trying to make something look like…. a picture”.

Or something like that.

Seems that an incredible amount of photography’s time on earth has been spent trying to make images not so much be something as to be like something else. The number of effects we go for when making an image, in the twenty-first century, is a list of the inherited techniques and processes that have waxed and waned, and waxed again, over the entire timeline of the art’s history. We are now so marinated in all the things that photographs have been that we find ourselves folding the old tricks into new pictures, without self-consciousness or irony. Consider this partial roster of the things we have tried, over time,  to make images look like:

Paintings    Etchings    Drawings    Daguerreotypes    Tintypes    Cyanotypes    Expired film    Cross-Processed Film    Kodachrome   Sepiatone    Toy Cameras    Macro Lenses    Badly-focused, Damaged and Flawed Lenses      Obsolete Film Stock    Daytime           Night-Time    Negatives    Postcards     Antique Printing Processes     Dreams, Hallucinations, and Fantasies    “Reality”

We not only manipulate photographs to make them more reflective of reality but to mock or distort it as well. We make pictures that pretend that we still have primitive equipment, or that we have much better equipment than we can afford. We utilize tools that make pictures look tampered with, that accentuate how much they’ve been tweaked. We make good pictures look bad and bad pictures look passable.

This post is turning out to be the evil twin of a recent article in which I emphasized how little we know about making “realistic” images. The more I turn it over in my mind, however, the more I realize that, in many cases, we are trying to make new photographs look like photographs that someone else took, in a different time, with different limits, with different motives. We steal not only from others but also from what they themselves were stealing.

All of a sudden my head hurts.

 

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3 responses

  1. Nice reflections.

    November 1, 2016 at 6:37 PM

    • Thank you. Between your kind comments and your wonderful work, you’re a bright spot in the web cosmos!

      November 1, 2016 at 9:16 PM

      • Thank you Michael but your words are too kind.

        November 1, 2016 at 9:39 PM

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