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Thread: Are we Over-Saturated?

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    Question Are we Over-Saturated?

    I often wonder if we really understand the meaning of a photograph? How many photos do you look at and just think, nice shot, or look that is interesting, and flick to the next one. I am reminded of a photo entered in a comp here on AP a while ago where the photographer had a completely different view of the photograph than most people who commented mainly because they were all commenting on a technical level rather than a human level.

    If you watch just about any photography documentary there will be commentary on what the photo means, what it tells us, what we can learn about the subject etc. But can Joe public see this, indeed can we see this for ourselves? I often have a photo that I see in a particular light only for most others to simply gloss over it.

    I think we miss the point 99% of the time!! So if we miss the point, is it because the photo simply isn't telling the story? Or is it because we are exposed to so many images every day that we are over-saturated and no longer have the ability to really "see" a photograph? Or is it something else?
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    I absolutely agree! Yes to all of the above.

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    All of the above!

    Competition wise, I think the addition of titles has allowed members to creatively direct members to think about their entry in a certain way. A clever title can often direct our thoughts to what the photographer was hoping for. A well thought out title can, in some cases make us look at a photo in a completely different way to what we might have.

    The same can be said of threads, a good title, or a small paragraph about the photos can lead the viewer into seeing what the photographer wanted them to. Whereas a thread with the words 'took these today, are they ok' will often evoke a technical response as members think the poster wants to know how to improve the results. Same photos with a few words like "I wanted to capture the emotional attraction between the elderly couple" will result in an entirely different set of replies, even if it is the same photos as the 'took these today' thread.

    So what I am saying, is that the power to influence your audience lies with you. It is up to you to be a photographer, director and art curator. With well chosen words to accompany your photos, you can direct your audience to look at your work the way you want them to, even without making them realise they are being directed at all.

    I have never been to a photography exhibition that didn't have a title, and then each photo also had a title. The result of all this titling is that it influences the way we look at photos in the exhibition.
    Last edited by ricktas; 05-07-2011 at 6:35pm.
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    I think in general we as photographers, especially on a forum are quick to bypass emotional
    Impact and jump straight to the technical aspects

    Are we oversaturated, well, yes, I think in today's instant on age there is so much data in so many mediums we process each image very quickly. Compare this to say pictorials of 100 years ago how long and lovingly each image would be pored over
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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Is the photography market in Australia over-saturated..definitely!

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    At the risk of sounding boring, "I agree too".

    There is an absolute deluge of images everywhere we go, and in such a visually-dominated world these days, the irony is that we actually have to look for what we're being shown.

    Kiwi is right in that people tend to assess an image firstly on technical grounds, assuming the emotional aspect is even considered.

    A person submitting a photo is more likely to hear "Your horizon is a tad crooked, squire!" or "Maybe darken that bit over there" rather than "Wow, I can feel the cold mist in that scene; it reminds me of a time I was at a location like this".

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    Commenting technically is also easier. Telling someone to fix a crooked horizon is easy, it is obvious to all that see the photo that the horizon is crooked. Commenting emotionally is harder (and more likely to offend a sensitive photographer). Emotive comments can lead to disagreement, where a crooked horizon is either crooked or it isn't.

    So making an emotive comment lets people into your psychology a bit and reveals more about the poster as a person, and often, on the net especially, people are wary of revealing to much about themselves to what are essentially a group of strangers.

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    I've been reading and posting here for a little over 12 months now. When I started I was staggered by the generally high quality, from my perspective, of the images posted here. I don't think that's changed, except perhaps for quality to have naturally improved over time, but I do find that unless I can pass on some positive impression that I tend to just look and move on without commenting in any great depth on an emotional level.

    I know what I see in the images here, but I'm not sure that I should say what I see on each occasion. Sometimes I do, and the poster appreciates the validation. Other times they apparently do not. I remember on one occasion asking the (long standing and talented) poster "What were you trying to achieve with that shot?" I gave them the benefit of the doubt in an image that really offered me nothing, emotionally. The poster's response was "Nothing. It's just a photograph!" That sort of response can make it pretty dangerous to expose how an image makes you "feel", as opposed to pointing out some area for technical improvement. JMHO.
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    It is, like so many things, the way of the world.

    Whilst that may sound like a cop-out, there is also truth in it.

    I, in my job (I'm sure many may agree), have been trained / bullied out of making any comment, judgment or decision you can't support with demonstrable evidence.

    As an English teacher, I can't simply read a poem a kid has written and comment that 'it moved' me or 'sounds silly'. I am required to comment of technical aspects judged against defined criteria. As a result, sometimes a poem can be technically very good (it has similes, juxtapositions, symbols etc.) but still sound crap.

    Now, I am sure many on AP are old enough to remember being told your poem was rubbish, your drawing lacked effort, or your essay was shallow etc. You try finding a teacher who is willing to give this assessment these days. The parents will be on the phone so quickly, complaining to the principal how little Jenny has slipped into a trauma induced coma blah! blah!

    Instead, you will find teachers who are frightened to look at a text at an emotional level for fear of the consequences but, instead commenting and assessing of a bunch of technical details.

    Sometimes it is valid to get technical but sometimes, a poem is beautiful just because it sounds beautiful - so too a photograph. So too they can be crap for the same reason.

    I wonder if on AP we are also wary of offending : and on the flip side, are we all looking for offence in the comments of others?

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    I think that the more people are involved with photography and do photography, the more they will see the technical side of things (as well as the 'story'). You get someone who doesn't do photography and they will just see the whole image for what it is (or what they perceive it to be!). They won't see a crooked horizon, an overly bright sky etc etc, just the image itself.

    For example, I quilt. When I see a quilt in an exhibition, I see the stitches they have used, I see if they have got the points perfect, have they quilted by hand or machine etc but someone who doesn't quilt will see the 'whole' quilt as one, and not pick it to pieces. They will just be astounded at the beauty of the quilt and wonder just how someone could do such a thing; just like a non-photographer will see the 'whole' beauty of the photo and be blown away by it!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scotty72 View Post
    I wonder if on AP we are also wary of offending : and on the flip side, are we all looking for offence in the comments of others?
    Speaking for myself, I hope not to offend when I critique an image.

    As I'm a technical photographer, I tend to notice the technical shortcomings of an image easily, and try to help people see where there are flaws in execution.

    Of course, it's difficult to point out such flaws without sounding nit-picky and potentially offending the photographer. Nobody likes to hear that his/her image is over- or under-exposed, has a crooked horizon, etc., but as photographers we need to hear about our mistakes (as unpleasant as it is) so we can learn from them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenedis View Post
    Speaking for myself, I hope not to offend when I critique an image.

    As I'm a technical photographer, I tend to notice the technical shortcomings of an image easily, and try to help people see where there are flaws in execution.

    Of course, it's difficult to point out such flaws without sounding nit-picky and potentially offending the photographer. Nobody likes to hear that his/her image is over- or under-exposed, has a crooked horizon, etc., but as photographers we need to hear about our mistakes (as unpleasant as it is) so we can learn from them.
    By way of eg, a photo may be uploaded. It may be 3 stops over exposed, it may have chopped off appendages, you, as the responder, may be thinking, 'what is the pic meant to be portraying?' but, instead, we get, 'Nice pic, good DOF but, you might wanna check the horizon.'

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    definitely over-saturated!
    Probably the best example for me to give experience about is what happens on flickr. I like to post an image with a backstory behind it but I doubt that 99% of the people who visit the page do anything else but look at the thumb, decide 'fave' or not, decide 'great shot' or not, and then move on to the next 'contact's' image to do the same process in the hopes that enough people reciprocate with their own image such that it reaches the 'explore' algorithm
    In this forum, I believe there is a much more meaningful look at images and that's why I prefer to post here. I don't consider myself great at expressing artistic critique, hence most of my CC comes from a technical viewpoint too.

    With modern life's 'accesssiblity' comes this dilemma though. We're spoiled for choice (and ease of changing options) that it's so much simpler to gloss over rather than appreciate each individual one.
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    Not every photograph is taken with the intent to convey some deep and meaningful message - there may not be any emotional aspect to react to. Everyone has a camera of some sort these days. And everyone (it seems) has a facebook page or similar to show their photos on. As a result, I think an awful lot of shots are taken and displayed simply because they can be, and for no other reason.
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    Allow me to tag your interesting observation, Jules. And this...
    As a result, I think an awful lot of shots are taken and displayed simply because they can be, and for no other reason.
    Can also be taken as...
    ... a lot of awful shots are taken and displayed simply because they can be, and for no other reason...

    (Of course, I could be hoist by the same petard...m)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jules View Post
    Not every photograph is taken with the intent to convey some deep and meaningful message - there may not be any emotional aspect to react to. Everyone has a camera of some sort these days. And everyone (it seems) has a facebook page or similar to show their photos on. As a result, I think an awful lot of shots are taken and displayed simply because they can be, and for no other reason.
    I agree entirely, and in my mind there lies the problem. We are bombarded with images many or most of which are just snapshots for memory sake; and therefore we miss the important ones. I think we are starting to loose the ability to really 'see' a photography because of all the other noise (pun intended ) around the place.

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    i often wonder if it is best to ask a non-photographer thier opinion on a photograph rather than a photographer...

    I say this because a non-tog will more than likely give you an emotional based response rather than critique on technical merits.

    probably true to some degree but not entirely... still food for thought.

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    I find that I don't look at photos in a gallery with the same critical eye as I do here and on other similar forums. There is something about seeing a large print hanging on a wall that has me immersed in the emotion of the photograph for a while before seeing the technical aspects. On AP it is the complete opposite, probably due to the 'purpose' of posting in a constructive critique forum is to obtain critique and not so much to present an image for others to simply enjoy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ving View Post
    i often wonder if it is best to ask a non-photographer thier opinion on a photograph rather than a photographer...

    I say this because a non-tog will more than likely give you an emotional based response rather than critique on technical merits.

    probably true to some degree but not entirely... still food for thought.
    That is sometimes the problem: the earned reputation of the expert / authority / person who has given their heart & soul is reduced to be equal to the average woman / man.

    Take a look at any variety of topics:

    A) photography
    B) climate change
    C) child welfare
    D) education
    E) population

    Endless list...

    As a society, we have stopped listening to those who are experts or have demonstrated experience.

    Instead, we immerse ourselves in a sea of half-baked emotional responses.

    Emotional responses are fine - so long as they are supported by reason.

    Just follow any twitter stream on an issue of national importance. It very quickly becomes a name-calling session based on 0 facts and 100% emotion.

    Or, if you really want to torture yourself - watch Question Time from Canberra one day.

    Scotty

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    Wow what an interesting discussion, thank you for starting this as I had forgotten about the emotional and concentrated on learning the technical.

    I went to the Nick Brandt exhibition last year and I didn't look at one photo going on the WB is a bit out on that...(I am assuming that that it wasn't) I was in awe of every single image, and I think there are few people that convey that and that is what differentiates the good from the award winning.
    Wow what an interesting discussion, thank you for starting this as I had forgotten about the emotional and concentrated on learning the technical.

    I went to the Nick Brandt exhibition last year and I didn't look at one photo going on the WB is a bit out on that...(I am assuming that that it wasn't) I was in awe of every single image, and I think there are few people that convey that and that is what differentiates the good from the award winning.

    ... a lot of awful shots are taken and displayed simply because they can be, and for no other reason...
    i think you need to be careful about comments like this is whilst very technical photography is still subjective and as Scotty said good technically doesn't make a great image.

    I also remember a photo that Steve Parish took that he was going to throw away as it is a bit blurred, but it is of a bird taking off at dawn and it is one of my favourite shots as it conveys so much about what the animal world is about, movement and light....

    One of my own favourite photos is not technically any good, it is also on my iphone, but it is of my husband at the footy and gives me an emotional response, I wouldn't expect it to to anyone else, a lot of what is on facebook and flickr falls into this category.

    As for the question are we over saturated? Maybe, whilst technically and emotionally bad photos will always be denigrated, and technically amazing but with no emotional attachment will attract the nice photo comments, emotionally amazing and poor technically will have a place, but for the few that get the combination of both technically perfect and inspiring there will always be a place.

    Hope this makes sense....
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