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Hoooba Jan 12, 2006 10:42 PM

Is it just me or are most posts on these forums just snapshots. I am not trying to be negative or draw any angry debates, but it seems that it's hard to come by real photographs except for a few photographers on the forum who really do have excellent talent. Even Steve's Photo of the Day has included some really questionable shots. What do guys think? Is this a case of "beauty is in the eye of the beholder"?

Tullio Jan 13, 2006 12:41 AM

What exactly differentiates a snapshot from a "real" photograph? Is it the individual taking the picture and his/her ability to create a "perfect" composition? Is it the quality of one's photo equipment? Or is it one's ability to use Photoshop real well and turn a crappy photo into a piece of art? I believe the "eye of the beholder" has a lot to do with it. I've been to many photo expositions of well known photographers and leave the place thinking...gee, I wonder why he/she is so famous!?! A lot of times, what may be very appiling to an individual, it may simply be ordinary to another. I'm very new to this forum and I don't consider myself a "photographer" but someone who enjoys taking pictures and who hopes to improve using other people's comments and suggestions as inputs to my work. I would not mind posting my pictures to a "snapshot" forum where viwers would appreciate my photos and comment on them as they felt touched in any way.

squirl033 Jan 13, 2006 1:36 AM

i agree with Tullio. what exactly is the difference between a 'snapshot' and a 'photograph'?

some will say it's in the composition, or the subject... pictures of the kids at the lake are 'snapshots', while pictures of a lovely sunset or an artsyabstract in black and whiteare 'photographs'. that may or may not be a valid distinction, but i've seenplenty of shots of subjects that by that criteria should be considered 'photographs', but were so lacking in imagination, interest, or any kind of message, that i could only scratch my head and wonder 'why?'.

i agree, i've seen many pictures on this forum that are not what you'd call 'fine art photos'. i've seen some that, sad to say, were really poor. but at the same time, i've seena lot ofvery good work. i've posted shots myself that wouldn't meet anyone's definition of a'fine art photograph'... and that's just fine. i don't post here - nor do most others, i suspect - simply to impress hyper-critical, judgemental people. we post here to show others who have never been where we are what it's like. we post here to have others review our work and make suggestions so we can become better photographers. we post just because we like to share a special moment or a favorite scene. and yes, sometimes we do post really good shots, the ones that even the most critical would consider 'good photos'.

i have seen many pictures taken by professional photographers, using $10,000 cameras, that i wouldn't have wasted the time to focus on. they simply do not speak to me. the subjects are boring, the composition isn't right to me, and the technique or the treatment of the subject doesn't excite me. i've seen photos where i've wondered, "what on earth was the point? what is that picture supposed to be of? why was it even taken?" i've also seen countless 'photographs' for sale in galleries, or on calendars orin magazines, and thought to myself, "that's a neat subject, and the exposure is technically good, but the overall effect, the 'feel' of the image -to me - is mediocre at best". often, i look at shots like that and wonderwhat i coulddo given the opportunity to go to that place andshoot that subject... would my work be better? perhaps, orperhaps only to me, because it would be my perspective, my view of that subject, and it would be just a little different from the other guy's.

i have also seen pictures taken by complete noviceswith inexpensive 2MP cameras that were simply stunning, because - whether by accident or design -the photographer captured something that struck a chord. that's because photography isn't a mechanical task - it's an art form that each of us approaches, and views, in a different way. it's a way for each of us to capture those things we think are worth remembering, and for us to share those moments with others. to some, it really is an art... a way tocapture our own unique vision of the world, our own creative perspective. and when it's done really well, a lot of viewers really like it. does that make it a 'photograph'? is that the deciding factor?

if beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, then photography is that person's way of capturing that beauty. like a painter, the photgrapher records an image because he likes what he sees, and wants to share it with others. not everyone will be impressed. he knows that, but he doesn't care, because he likes it, and he knows that for every person who thinks his work stinks, there's another who loves it, and it's all simply a matter of personal taste and opinion. if the photographer does the basic steps right and the composition, exposure, color, lighting, subject matter all come together perfectly, that's wonderful! he has created something that preserves forever a moment in time that he found beautiful, or dramatic, or evocative. and if all those elements don't work properly - or if the viewer, in his own opinion, doesn't think they work properly - what then? does that make the work any less pleasing to the photographer? the result may not be as "artistic", but hasn't the photographer still captured that moment he was after?

with the exception of some professionals who shoot only subjects they're commissioned to shoot - babies, weddings, and other hopelessly boring subjects like that - most photographers, amateur or professional, photograph things they like, things they want to preserve in an image. they don't take the pictureto please someone else, though if other viewers enjoy it, that's good too. so what makes them better photographers than those of us who don't earn a living at it?do they take 'photographs', while the rest of us only take 'snapshots'? i've never made my living as a photographer, though i have made money at it. i've sold prints of things i shot because i liked them, and i've sold more - many more - of things i'd never have wasted film on for myself, because i didn't findthem interesting. does that make me a 'pro'? does that make my opinion worth more? does it make my 'eye', or my technique better? does that make my work 'photographs', while someone else who's never sold an image takes only 'snapshots'?

these forums are not fine art museums. if that's what you're looking for,there are a zillion websites full of pictures by people who fancy themselves 'photographers' because they've taken a class or two and spent a few thousand dollarson whiz-bang cameras and lenses, and think that entitles them to offer 8x10 pictures of dandelions for $95 each. if that's your idea of 'photography', you probably won't find it here.

Nikon8800 Jan 13, 2006 1:51 AM

Art is very broad. You like this? I don't. I like this? You don't. Photograph? Snapshot? Who cares? Let's enjoy! :blah:

Tullio Jan 13, 2006 11:51 AM

Squirrel said it all but I'd like to a couple more thoughts to the subject. Studies have been done showing that people with various degrees of autism are very artistic specially with regards to photography. The reason the pictures they take are so artistic is not because of the equipment they use, or the subject they choose or even the processing involved but how they see the world. Normal people look at a tree as a whole object. The beauty of it is based on how we percieve beauty, that is how well balanced it is, its shape, texture and color while an autistic person may find interesting the bark formation where the trunk meets the ground. As a result, normal people will tend to take a picture of the entire tree while the autistic will focus solely on the bottom part of the main trunk. The difference in results can be quite dramatic. I believe digital photography is enabling people to see the world differently by trial and error. When a picture is taken, we can see the results right there and then and if we don't like it, we shoot it again, and again and again at to extra cost. Then we go to Photoshp (or whatever software we like) and crop it in many different ways until the result is what we consider interesting and appealing to our eyes at the same time. Is there anything wrong with using software to manipulate art? Well, that's an entire different subject, which I really don't want to get started. Cheers.

squirl033 Jan 13, 2006 1:24 PM

one of the things we learn as we become "better" photogtraphers is how to "see" things we didn't notice before, or to see them in different ways. a couple of years ago, i would've passed by this tree, maybe made a mental note that it looked kinda neat, but i would never have paid any attention to anything other than the overall image. studying photography, learning from others, and experimenting as Tullio mentioned, have taught me to look at more than just the obvious... and to think in terms of light and color, not just shape and line...

oh, by the way... i'm definitely NOT autistic! :G

Tullio Jan 13, 2006 2:09 PM

Now that is an interesting shot of an interesting tree.

bhammitt Jan 13, 2006 4:18 PM

I read this post early this morning before work and thought I would think about it till I got home before commenting. The thing I enjoy most about our forum is sharing, learning and chatting with others that love photography. We all come from different backgrounds, skill levels and parts of the world, but it is obvious we all love taking photos. If you follow the forum and really watch you see most people really grow their photography skills over time with tips and helps from watching the people who are farther along than they are. I know I have learned alot and gotten encouragement from people here and I want to pass that along to others. I enjoy looking at everyones work. be it a snapshot or photograph.


klfatcj Jan 13, 2006 8:10 PM

I think these forums aregreat as they aresharing knowledge, not showcasing. Some photos are great, some get mixed reactions, but all teach. Seeing why a photo doesn't quite work (or finding why it still works for some viewers) teaches not just about photography but also a bit about human nature. All of these help developskills; marvelling that someone else is head and shoulders above me in skill does not. Seeing the ability of some to tweak a photo from plain to exciting helps me to understand how great photos are created.

(And Tullio, I really appreciate your comments about autism. As the father of a son with a form of autism, I see some of that and am glad that people recognize that not always fitting in and seeing the world differently isn't necessarily a bad thing.)


digcamfan Jan 14, 2006 7:56 AM

Snapshot example:

In 1944, a Marine photographed my father and other Marines "somewhere in the Pacific".

It was probably taken with a Brownie camera. It is faded, only 2 x 3 with a sepia look to it.

Worth to others: Probably nothing.

Worth to me: Priceless.

These are some the Marines who had Dad's back. Because of Marines, Dad made it home to be a Dad. He lies in Eternal Rest now.

I often look at these Marines, one of whom destined to become my father.

The overwhelming feel is one of gratitude, eternal gratitude that can never be repaid.

Photograph example:

Margaret Bourke White's immortal photograph of a different kind of a band of brothers.

The photograph to which I refer is her photograph of the survivors of Buchenwald gazing into her camera's eye, thru the wire, moments before liberation.

So, I concur with others on this thread.

Snapshot v. Photograph is not the point.

It is how the image affects you, how your attention is drawn to it, how, if you are the maker of the image, how your mind's eye "worked" so you could "see" the image before you captured it.

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