Debunk some theories – debate

Updated on July 21, 2017 in Photography
9 on July 17, 2017

Hi folks,

First off I will say, I absolutely love Eric and his continued wisdom on photography and perspective on the craft. But I would like to counter a few things (and I think he will appreaciate me for doing so).

I’ve been asked to teach a workshop myself so I am using my friends, new and old, here as a bit of a jumping off point. I don’t know if I’m ready but there are a few things

1) ONE CAMERA ONE LENS

While I think one camera one lens is cool, gives photographers less to think about and let’s us just focus on making photos, I think it too can be a crutch. To be the best photographers we can be I think we need to be able to utilize all of the tools available to us. To be able to make choices of equipment for a task, and therefore in a way pre-conceive our photographs based on he knowledge of said equipment choices.

Does a carpenter just use one hammer? Does a painter just use one brush? Why do we have so many choices in the first place?

For instance if you want to use a 90mm lens on the street, why not? Why not a 280mm? The idea here is you are looking to get the best shot YOU can make and while you have to understand your own history and the history of the art. The bottom line is you can make a shot with whatever you see fit.

That said, if you can only afford one camera one lens or make that choice, by all means become the best possible photographer with that 28 equivalent and rock it. But KNOW it is a choice!

2) BOKEH

There is NOTHING wrong with using your lens wide open if you want to. I wouldn’t default to it, just like I wouldn’t default to “F8 and be there”. Maybe a better point is to say, “know when to shoot wide open, and when to include more depth of field in your shots.” Again this relates back to knowing your EQ. Making informed choices based on knowing multiple different set ups, including lens choice. If you have an f2 lens, why in the heck not shoot at f2? Seems like you are unduely limiting your palette.

3) WORKSHOPS VS FINDING YOUR OWN MASTER, YOURSELF

I have both taken Eric’s workshop and others (Bruce GIlden twice, etc) and although there is a lot to be said for the input of a leader, the intensity of critique, and more it can be another crutch. The only person that can tell you anything about your own photography, life or art in general is yourself. You know better than anyone who inspires you, what your particular perspective is, and how this journey is going to pan out. Trust it. Find the teachers that give you the most step up, and when anyone’s filter goes against that ask yourself why or how that feels to you? Are you afraid of being yourself, seeing what you see, knowing what you know? Do you. You have to become your own Master.

4) ONLY SOMEONE WHO THEY THEMSELVES HAVE CREATED A NOTABLE WORK OF ART CAN TELL YOU ANYTHING ABOUT CREATING A NOTABLE WORK OF ART

Like the above, this is simply finding those that tell you anything about the creation of art someone that has they themselves gotten to a point that they have something to tell you. Choose your influences wisely. The thought above is from Ezra Pound’s ABC of READING. About poetry, but works for most other arts if you see fit to read it.

5) WHAT YOU DID BEFORE YOU WERE A PHOTOGRAPHER, OR YOUR LIFE OUTSIDE OF PHOTOGRAPHY, OFTEN INFORMS YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY MORE THAN YOU THINK

How you define your own distinct voice in this is often a combination of assimilating a style from the artists before you. True enough. But to go BEYOND that you have to develop something that is uniquely you. As you are yourself a unique person. Araki once said, “I wondered what would happen if I photographed every aspect of my life?” What would you photograph? Who? Wh n? How? This is sometimes more important than any of the techniqu and aesthetic choices you make (editing and processing). Otherwise your images are only your editing and processing and well, that’s interesting but it’s just one step, one aspect. Find yourself in your work and you will attract more people to he human condition you create. It’s more universal.

Thanks folks, and please debate what I’ve said if you feel like doing so. Nothing is set in stone.

Much love!!

BB

 
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1 on July 18, 2017

For me the one camera, one lens thing comes down to my personality type. 

If I have (as I have in the past) a bunch of lens, I worry too much about which one to use, should I have taken that shot with that lens, would it have looked better etc.) I get pretty bad anxiety at times and this is one of the things that added to that when shooting.

I also think it depends what you are shooting. If you are doing full blown pro commercial work, real estate work etc then, more than likely, you are going to need options. I shoot friends, the streets, live shows, stuff for me more than anything these days so my Ricoh GR suits me.

An area where I think a lot of people can run into trouble is not having too many lenses, but getting too many too soon. Buy one, shoot it, a lot, learn it well, get a new one. Some people, especially if new to photography and they have the money to spend, buy their first DSLR and two or three lenses and never get great/good with any of them.

 Regarding workshops, again, if you can afford it, go for it. It’s like art school/photography degrees. I got my B.A in photography. Cost about 6k (Europe) and I got to spend every day for three years discussing photography, shooting in well equipped studios, being tutored by properly working photographers and networking. Made connections I still use to this day.

I think workshops are great if you are realistic about what you will get out of them. A workshop won’t turn you into a Magnum photographer, but it can open your eyes to new things, help you make some new connections and is just…fun! (I did one in wedding photography years ago and I don’t shoot weddings but I had a blast learning about something out of my comfort zone and got away for a few days too.)

 For point four I agree, choose influences wisely but also make mistakes and don’t just write off advice/feedback based on the other persons accomplishments. I used to subscribe to this but really now, when I think about it, I’ve never directed a movie. I can still tell you if something is super shitty etc. I don’t fight, I can still watch boxing/MMA and see where someone messed up. I don’t subscribe to four. 🙂

 

Bit of a rambling response but there ya go! 

 

Good topic!

on July 18, 2017

With lenses I would say one at a time definitely. But I tend to default to a few not just one. I for instance used to hate the 50mm focal length although 15 years ago it was the first and only lens I had. Now I have more 50s than any other focal length. Things change over time.

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1 on July 18, 2017

One camera one lens. Absolutely. Start with one lens, learn it’s visual vocabulary then move onto another lens and learn it’s vocabulary. Most good street type photos are made with a 28mm 35mm or 50mm. So at least learn those. Friedlander once said as I get older I shoot wider. He went from 50 to 28mm. Just know that the wider you go the more complex picture organization becomes.

 

on July 18, 2017

Eggleston went more tele, and started with a 24, then 28, 35, and now at 77 used a 50 0.95.

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1 on July 18, 2017

I don’t think one camera one lens always needs to be taken literally, but I am a believer in limiting the amount of gear you own. I only own two lenses, a 50mm and a 20, and I very rarely feel limited by it. In fact I usually find myself just choosing one or the other to take with me based on the situation.

I love bokeh just as much as the next guy, but my fear(especially for beginner photographers) is that people can use it as a crutch and slack on composition. I wouldn’t say one should never shoot wide open though.

on July 21, 2017

The bokeh issue comes down to learning PHOTOGRAPHY, not just getting a DSLR or mirrorless camera and setting it on P and opening your 50 f1.8 wide open and hoping for the best. Same if you buy a Leica and a Summilux anything, or a Noctilux and just shoot it at 0.95. You might think you are the “best” at that one aperture and setting and getting so so shots because you haven’t played with various apertures.

For instance, I’ve modern lenses are technically best 2-3 stops from their widest aperture. That would mean f4, f5.6 are where the lenses are typically going to have the most unique rendering for that particular lens. Each lens varies though. Leica, Zeiss, RICOH/Pentax all have distinctive attributes and different engineering. So maybe instead of “f8 and be there” we may consider learning the hyper focal distance for other apertures and learning to shoot as fast. Try it with flash, try it without. Try using the viewfinder and try just gauging with both eyes open no viewfinder and trying to hit a target and keeping it in focus. See what light can do with some out of focus areas and the pop of a lens not “quite” wide open.

The idea here is PLAY while you can, and if you shoor digitally there is ZERO reason not to.

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2 on July 19, 2017

Bil I respect everything you write and agree with you. Thank you for pushing my thinking forward. I’ll meditate on your ideas. Deep shit.

on July 21, 2017

And I respect you! Let’s all move this thing called photography forward, by example, and it benefits all to come.

We have these little engineering marvels in our hands, as well as 180 years of practitioners. Street photography, portraits, fashion, landscape, it’s all photography! It hit me in conversation with Eggleston, he literally didn’t distinguish between doing an urban landscape or a portrait. He never worked a scene, he took one photo each. He also never selected his own photos for exhibition. He said he had no favorites and when he asked me to describe one of his photos, he stopped me and said, “no, that’s JUST COMPOSITION.” For a photographer that only reads technical manuals and shot my M10 without looking through the viewfinder with both eyes open and got a perfectly composed shot… it told me that maybe, just maybe, we are going about this in an extremely rudimentary way. These are tools. That’s it. It’s all coming from someplace else.

Maybe it’s time to find out that that place is.

on July 21, 2017

Here’s a point that may be interesting I just thought of:

How do cinematographers work?

Preconception based on a scene? Choice of equipment? Looking at shots that came before?

Do we think of a shot we want and like a scientist hypothesizing try to make that shot happen?

Eggleston also spoke about quantum physics: how it’s a number of controlled variable that PROBIBLY will happen. How much control do we have over those variables?

Thinking…

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