I discovered photography in high school. I learned how to shoot black and white, develop the negatives, and develop the prints. I loved it. Once I hit college, I continued to shoot. I took a college level course in black and white and signed up for a darkroom monkey position. I gained 24-hour access to the lab. I learned how to mix chemicals.
Black and white photography was a necessity in my Graphic Design program. I learned how to composite typography and photographs using a stat camera and toxic sheets of a special film called Kodilith. I learned how to dodge and burn using light and pieces of cardboard, Goldenrod, and Rubylith.
Photography is time-consuming. There were design projects that would literally take days to complete. I think the longest I stayed up to complete a darkroom project was three days. By the end of that stint I had a bloody nose. The process, while time-consuming and sometimes hazardous to one’s health is rewarding.
I love digital photography but there is nothing like the process and qualities of film. That doesn’t mean I prefer one over the over in general. I am grateful for having such an extensive background working with film. I have a lot of respect for the history and will continue to shoot film until it’s no longer available, affordable, or until I’m no longer available.
Now, I’ll get to my point. Recently, Derek and Heather relaunched JPG Magazine. The site looks great. I signed up.
JPG Magazine began a few years ago. It began as printed magazine based on particular themes. It was open to everyone (and I mean everyone). Contributors sent their images based on the current theme. And some of the images were then chosen and printed in that issue. Me? I was drawn to it because they were taking an online art form and later creating a printed piece. And as a print designer, I can’t get enough of print.
JPG Magazine has changed a bit. It’s changed for the better. It seems that they’re leaning more toward a community Web site, while adhering to the old school, photographic ideas. The magazine still exists, but it’s much, much more.
One of the reasons I like JPG Magazine is that they adhere to the art form before it gets to Photoshop, which means contributors are asked to avoid manipulating their images. Techniques like desaturating certain parts of an image, adding overused Photoshop filters, blurring, adding text, or distorting an image are off limits. They just want good, unmanipulated photographs. When I taught at American University, I was constantly asking that my students try and capture what they wanted before taking the image into Photoshop. You wouldn’t believe how much you can accomplish before the image is “developed” or “downloaded”. Really. Another reason I like the new format of JPG is it’s kind of nostalgic for me; it’s sort of like sitting in a classroom again, checking out other work based on a given project, or, in this case, theme.
So, my friends, go on over and have a look. Sign up, too. It doesn’t cost a thing and they’re really great people who know really great people. Plus, I’m great people so you should do it to be with me.
Say hello to JPG. I promise, you won’t be let down.
again with the ‘enriching others lives.’
oy. where would i be without you.
so, have you heard of this magazine, ‘the sun?’
i love it. i think you might too.
im too lazy to look up and then post a link. i was up late.
p.s. i made my pancetta and garlic linguine last night. yum.
visit and you too can have it.all.
heather, I’m starving.
I’ll check out “the Sun” immediately.
Oooh ooh! I’m totally all over this!!!
One of my biggest concerns about going digital was that some of the ‘art’ is lost. I can’t stand that someone can take a mediocre picture and play with it in photoshop to make it lovely. That’s lame!
JPG sounds like my cup of tea as I try to compose a picture as I would with a film camera, however I just get instant gratification, and can modify the settings. Good times.
Thanks for the head’s up!
hemlock, my pleasure. I couldn’t agree more, btw. I make my living using programs like Photoshop and Illustrator, yet, I can’t stand when people randomly manipulate the hell out of a photograph. (Unless, of course, that’s the point.)
I am so glad you’re into it! They’re really great people as well. That’s always a plus. I like helping out fine folks.
I understand what you are saying on the photo manipulation, but I don’t think it should be so readily dismissed either. There are methods to the manipulation that serve the art (I dont’ think that is what you are talking about here, but feel defensive since I enjoy using these tools). It is still a valid form of art, is all I’m saying.
just read your quote on Ms. Condoleeza Rice and I too feel she may one of the those who prepare a throne for antichrist. Its in the eyes, i know a devil-worshiper when i see one, i used to see it myself in the mirroor before i stopped looking to deeply into mirrors. You got balls to say that in public, she’s like the 3rd most powerful person in the US Government.
Aaron, I had no idea what you were talking about at first. Then I talked to Google and I found it. I no longer feel that way about Condi especially given the latest torture bill. Now, I’m terrified to say anything at all about our government and the powers that be. They are all saints and angels. All of them.
I really respect photography that is unmanipulated and still stunning. While I myself have recently starting enjoying the perks that come with playing with photoshop, and think that a balance can be struck between the raw and the manipulated, I agree that many photographs look far too “tweaked.” Thanks! for the heads up on JPG. I’m excited to spend some time perusing. : )
y’all, I’m not saying that there aren’t valid purposes for all post processing and Photoshop manipulation (filters, etc). I’m also not saying that they’re not used in making what one might consider art. If you gathered that from what I wrote above apparently I’m not writing very well.
I told my students that if they were going to do a lot of post-processing that I don’t want to know exactly what they did to accomplish the look they ended up with. It’s not that I thought it was bad, per se, but it does sort of set the bar at only a certain height when I feel (and felt) that exploring their options even before getting it into Photoshop (or the darkroom) is something worthwhile. It’s too easy a lot of the time. Plus, I wanted them to think more about their actual subject matter and how they set up the shot or where they stand when they take the shot, how they frame it, etc. That’s all extremely important in photography. All too many times I have heard people say, “that’s ok, I’ll fix it when I get it into Photoshop.” That mentality seems a little lazy, in my opinion.
Lastly, this post was written with a specific site in mind and that’s JPG Magazine. I’m being very specific and I happen to feel a lot of excitement in reference to their mission statement and their overall view of photography. Please don’t take something so specific (this post) and generalize it. JPG’s mission, while something I find really exciting, isn’t for everyone. And they say as much on their site.
You explained yourself fine, Michele. I know you were being specific to JPG Magazine and also know you can appreciate using the tools available to enhance art…after all, you’re a graphic designer! ;-)
I was feeling edgy yesterday, is all. Made me defensive when it wasn’t necessary. xo
i stuggle with photography in general, but i do feel that the closer to the original, the better. you were talking about “non-street street photography” a few weeks ago and you asked me what “i” thought of it. well….i have thoughts even though they are disjointed, but somehow this post brings me back to thinking about it and i think somehow they are related.
Do you have something you’d like to share with the rest of us, Mr. Greg?
Don’t be shy. Share!
i struggle with “art,” and maybe this is a personal problem…..but when photography comes up, i really struggle with throwing the word around. probably because my feelings on art, in general, are difficult to define by what is the “remainder” or “residue” of what may or may not be art (i.e. a painting, a sculpture, a photograph)……
Would you say there is an art to photography and not that it’s necessarily art?
Are you saying that you’re a purist?
I don’t believe graphic design is art. I don’t like when people say things like “Well, you’re the artist! You decide!” No, I’m not an artist. I’m a designer. I make shit that’s meant to communicate with a particular audience based on what my client wants. Sure, there might be an art in how I do that (I’m really great with key commands! An artist of key commands, if you will!) but I’m no artist and what I create is far from art. It’s communication.
I struggle with this too. I could talk about this all day long, to be honest. All day.
when i look at photography, is see a mechanical box that focuses reflected light on a light sensitive media, then transfered through a process to another light sensitive media….it captures what someone sees and transforms it to something someone else can see yet not experience directly. when i add that to my ideas of art, photography falls through the cracks and lands in the world of craft…….a place i believe in whole heartedly.
“I’m a designer. I make shit that’s meant to communicate with a particular audience based on what my client wants……but I’m no artist and what I create is far from art. It’s communication.”
what i find very interesting about your statement is that many of the old paintings (Art with the capital a)that now hang in galleries around the world, do just that….they communicate. they had meaning and purpose. so in the postmodern world of flexible definitions, we struggle to find our art. (“art is useless” richard serra. )but once again, we also need the educated audience to “Read” the work. and the reductive nature of photography still acts as a representation of “what” we see as opposed to a study in “how” we see our world(painting). without a common knowledge between the viewer of the photograph and the taker of the photograph, there cannot be any real understanding other than purely compositional. reductive in nature, though many painter’s also use reductive means to experiment in “how” we see, they are the medium of the reduction, not the mechanism. their efforts are the translation from artist eye to canvas when the residual action is recorded. there is composition in painting, but it is but a piece of the puzzle where it is the puzzle in photography.
if the purpose of the camera is to remove the human from the process as it records the human condition as art, then, it’s purpose is to capture art as life….this seems to me to totally negate life’s fluidity. if one can compose art and also capture art it reduces art to nothing and anything at once. murder becomes art, a smile becomes art, my pee becomes art and so on.
so, as for, capturing a moment with a photograph, we really are dislocating a piece from space-time and representing it with something that could never actually be seen by anyone other than the camera. the essence is “noticed” by the photographer and the shot is taken, but what they are doing with the camera is referencing an impossibility, one the viewers of the photograph could never completely grasp. sure they can appreciate, but even in modernism and postmodernism, appreciation does not make. (again it screams craft.)
personally i prefer craft to art, especially when it’s mediocre art, i can accept something as misguided craft easier than being told something’s art. i put “art” on a very high pedestal so maybe you can call me a purist…or i just don’t like calling everything under the sun art, i don’t know
i’m not trying to diss photography(even if the above seems harsh on the reread), i love good photography and i like a good eye when i see it. and i too love talking about this, but usually i talk to eddie about it most of the time. he’s pretty well versed in art and some critical theory.
gosh, i hope i didn’t offend….it was not my intention. : (
greg! Not at all. Actually, I began writing you back – a long one too but I got sidetracked by work. I am so sorry.
Not offended. Not even close. I dont’ think anyone could or would be. :]
sidetracked by work!!!! i would never! hehehe
Michelle, I just wanted to say thanks for telling this story. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the new JPG as much as we are. :-)
my pleasure, Derek. meant every word.
Pssst my name has one L, sir. But I answer to both spellings. :]
I’m come from a similar school of hard knocks as you and it’s nice to hear a well-formed opinion of how you approach photography. The untouched image sitting latent on a memory card or printed on a contact sheet holds a lot of power.
naugle, dude, haven’t you gotten my emails lately? I do wonder if you’ll read this.
Been trying to get in touch with you! Find me! :]
I am responding to this a bit late but better than never, right?
Post processing digital photos has it’s place. Is it really any different than dodging and burning or manipulating the method of developing film or even deciding which film to use? It is all about enhancing the actual exposure. I think of post processing as developing the film.
I know what you’re saying and I tend to agree with you, however, I think there’s a fine line between post processing and tweaking the living hell out of an image and I guess i get tired of seeing the same old filters used over and over again. But that’s because I’m around it all the time. I spend about 6 hours of my day in Photoshop and working with designers. And when I taught more and more students went straight for an easy manipulation instead of really trying to make something really individual and therefore interesting.
Sometimes it seems more and more that the work and thought is going into the post processing rather than the actual subject matter/set up/ etc. and that’s a shame, in my opinion.
I think this is why Warhol’s work with Polaroids is always so interesting. You really have no chance to mess with the image after you shoot it.
i agree on the polaroid, they are magical. i love the fact that everything they need to exist is right there in that little package. they have a tangible feeling to, there is substance to them and texture outside of the image.
I have scratched the hell out of some developing polaroids, however. DOes that count as Post processing? :]
I agree that the goal should be the perfect shot right out of the camera… but oh how I do love technology for those times when a guy needs just a little help.
Michele, do you shoot RAW and if not, does in camera file manipulation count as post processing? I think the D200 almost always requires a little USM.
I do admire your photography and my heart of hearts tells me that post processing is just wrong. So, I really do agree with you. I just can’t stop myself from tweaking just a little.