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what makes a great photo ?
March 29, 2007 6:30 PM   Subscribe

What makes a great photo ? - fascinating discussion from the conscientious fine art photography blog - Digg doesn't.
posted by sgt.serenity (25 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Truly intelligent and probing find, sgt s.
I'm usually drawn to photos focussing on faces in conflict or stress---human, animal, or otherwise.
Curious what others will say.
Thanks!
posted by Dizzy at 6:37 PM on March 29, 2007


Is the point of the last link how they are uncultured barbarians? Because I have to agree--that looks like a porn shot. A snuff porn shot.
posted by DU at 6:48 PM on March 29, 2007


Digg doesn't what? Make a great photo?
posted by puke & cry at 6:50 PM on March 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, doesn't what? I didn't quite get that either. Maybe to understand your point I'd have to actually read a Digg page? Hmmm... I don't wanna do that...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:03 PM on March 29, 2007


My favorite discussion of photography comes from Roland Barthes, in his La Chambre Claire.
posted by cubby at 7:12 PM on March 29, 2007


digg doesnt dig it, clever clogs.
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:18 PM on March 29, 2007


If digg itself were on digg, no diggers would digg it.

IMHO 'digg' is a misnomer.
should have been named dikk
posted by isopraxis at 7:23 PM on March 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Aha! So I would've in fact have had to actually read comments on Digg. No thanks. But, hey, um, good to know that they don't like it over there... I guess...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:24 PM on March 29, 2007


You know DU, I wasn't thinking that when I first saw the photo, but in looking at it again, I think you may have nailed it.

"It's so in-your-face and yet exquisite at the same time. It's stark - almost harsh, but still beautiful. It's hard to think of another photograph from the period where the photographer so ruthlessly (and powerfully) divides up the picture. If I could buy one photograph this would be it."


This argot is so self indulgent, it made me throw up in my mouth a little.

Further down the page there are some quite exceptional photos, however.
posted by quin at 7:24 PM on March 29, 2007


The biggest problem with digg is that it is not completely worthless. I wish that it were, so I could ignore it and be spared the crap that passes for content there. But it unfortunately does manage to occasionally come up with a gem once in awhile.
posted by nightchrome at 7:25 PM on March 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I dig (hah!) the fourth one. There was an inbalance of power vibe that I liked.

The rest were pretty meh, except for maybe that last one. There's probably a pretty good story behind that one, but I bet it's not as good as the one that's going on in the head of the guy wearing the hat in #4.
posted by Cyrano at 7:26 PM on March 29, 2007


that is arthouse bukkake. somebody had to say it.

*checking for reserve parachute, not finding one*
posted by phaedon at 7:39 PM on March 29, 2007


That first photo is ridiculous. I don't know how you could say it's "great" It's completely bland and a little gross.
posted by delmoi at 9:23 PM on March 29, 2007


That first photo is ridiculous. I don't know how you could say it's "great" It's completely bland and a little gross.

Well, thank goodness photography isn't an objective science.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 9:31 PM on March 29, 2007


photography is subjective...

that is all...
posted by photoslob at 9:39 PM on March 29, 2007


personally, i can't wait for the mefi vs. digg battle-royale. that'll be a good day.

i for one enjoy the conversations on that blog. it is good to talk about what makes a photo poignant. it doesn't have to be in the context of an "fine art" photograph, even snapshots can move and shake you.

i've taken fine art photography classes at UNC as part of my documentary photography sequence, and i was always slightly put off by the way the art majors would talk about photography. this blog brings me back to that, but by now i've learned that critical analysis of photographs, even in an art context is just fine.
posted by virga at 9:48 PM on March 29, 2007


The first photo from the weblog entry is a fine example of the conceptual dreck that leaves most non-MFA types cold. The problem with "fine art photography" is that most practioners try too damn hard on the "fine art" part and not nearly enough on the "photography" part.

On the other hand, how many times was goatse.cx mentioned on that digg thread? Three or four times, at least. Nevermind all the porn/boobs/nekkidness shoutouts.

Great photography lies somewhere between these two poles.
posted by DaShiv at 9:51 PM on March 29, 2007


I am strangely in love with this photo.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:34 AM on March 30, 2007


The problem with "fine art photography" is that most practioners try too damn hard on the "fine art" part and not nearly enough on the "photography" part.

I find that an interesting area, when it comes to writing about art - if you go to a show where there are a lot of photographs on the walls, it is not always apparent whether you're dealing with 'a photographer' or 'an artist using photography' (eg. as documentation of a performance work, or in a meta sense of photography being, consciously, the subject as well as the medium of the work).
posted by jack_mo at 3:06 AM on March 30, 2007


If you cant consume it and your granny doesnt smile when she sees it - there's a good chance it'll be a fine art photograph.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:41 AM on March 30, 2007


Somewhere between porn and fine art is most commercial photography. The reason some of you don't like these pictures, some of which are very famous, common examples of great fine art photography is that your brain is wired to appreciate commercial work. If you have a difficult time appreciating Friedlander than I think you probably have a problem appreciating art in general.
posted by xammerboy at 7:23 AM on March 30, 2007


A good photograph captures something other than the scene. This is why vacation snapshots are usually pretty bad, except when they're really, really great.
(just my opinion obviously)
posted by bobobox at 9:51 AM on March 30, 2007


What I mean by capturing "something other than the scene" is that a good photograph traps/brings to light an aspect/feeling that you wouldn't have seen if you were there, in person, looking at the same view.
posted by bobobox at 9:56 AM on March 30, 2007


I don't think that the photographers whose photos I admire the most -- Cartier-Bresson, Evans, Frank, Erwitt, Avedon, etc -- produced merely "commercial work" (though Avedon's fashion work comes close, and regardless there are plenty of great commercial/advertising/etc photos out there). It's that their photos were about being photographs first and foremost, rather than being self-consciously "art" from the get-go. Of course one could argue whether Adam's landscapes or Weston's peppers were more "photography" or "fine art", but my point is that it's not the conceptual art-school types picking up a camera who usually wind up producing great photos -- it's photographers who shoot as their bread-and-butter. And photography critics (including on the linked blog) virtually always overrepresent the former group quite a bit in their appreciations.
posted by DaShiv at 2:35 PM on March 30, 2007


If you have a difficult time appreciating Friedlander than I think you probably have a problem appreciating art in general.

I don't even appreciate photography and I have no problem whatsoever appreciating art in general.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:23 PM on March 30, 2007


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