RA-000 Introduction

Dear Reader,

First posted 2018-06-04, Updated 2018-06-10.

Ever since the photographer Eadweard Muybridge was paid $25,000 in 1878 by Leland Stanford to help Stanford win a bet that a galloping horse has at some point, all fours hooves off the ground, the series has been near and dear to photography.

Professionally I synthesize information from disparate sources into something that makes sense to my customers.  That same activity also touches this week’s series, which is also part of the umbrella project “Roadside Attractions”. Speaking of disparate sources here is a collection that are informing my current approach.

  • David Hockney brought cubism to photography through his use of Polaroids. When I think of Polaroids the fours words that come mind are quick, ephemeral, disposable, and time. There is also a sense of play to Polaroids that I enjoy.  After all this art and photography arena should be enjoyable. The borders of a Polaroid are equal on the left, right, and top sides.  The ratio of total width to total height is 1:31.
  • Hilla and Bernd Becher founded one of the two major photographic schools of the late 1900’s, The Dusseldorf School of Photography. The Bechers proposed, practiced, and taught a rigorous approach to photography that valued technical excellence and objectivity. The Becher’s collection of fading industrial artifacts are not instantly captivating.  The patient viewer though is richly rewarded.  The photos of world renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky have roots in the Dusseldorf school. I have long been drawn to the conflict between beauty and subject matter in his work.
  • Though I enjoy the work of the people I follow on Instagram, there is something disturbing about the way images are presented and consumed. The medium, especially on a smart phone, is not conducive to thoughtful consideration.  The medium promotes rapid scrolling through one’s feed and responding with one of 3 choices, do nothing, like, or comment.  The quality of photographers I follow is high and their craftsmanship is visible.  Instagram does not give photographers their due.  The challenge is how does one arrest attention spans.
  • After my first photograph in this series I concluded that it would be immoral not to pick up the subject matter after capturing an image.  I have also come to appreciate that walking along various verges with tripod, camera, gloves, and a garbage bag helps to accentuate the ephemeral nature of these particular images and photography in general.

You may conclude that all this sounds like pretentious bullshit.  Depending on the day and hour I may well agree with you.  I question and doubt myself constantly.

Until tomorrow, Cheers, Sean

5 Replies to “RA-000 Introduction”

  1. Your comments about Instagram really resonated with me. I too find it disturbing. For quite a while, I have been a bit frustrated that I don’t have many followers and can’t seem to add more, then realized that this shallow medium is making me sour and anxious. In fact, it has taken the pleasure out of my photography. So I checked out of Instagram for several months–and felt better. I can’t escape the conclusion that Instagram, while free, isn’t the right tool for serious photographers. It appears to more about the number of followers you can collect than a way to share ways to improve one’s photos.

  2. Instagram. Exactly!! I’ve been looking, off and on, for a place to display photographs at a quality level better than social media, but not print level, that also didn’t eat the viewer’s bandwidth or try their patience. A place where one might put fewer photos rather than more. A place that wasn’t focussed on selling, or charged the photographer an arm and a leg, to say nothing of a spare lens or two. Plus had some nice templates, and a process that wasn’t too onerous for those that didn’t want to do everything by hand. A place that didn’t warp your chosen crop to fit their standards. A place that would protect your copyright. A place where others could find you, or be invited to browse and comment. A place that wasn’t restricted to landscapes, or macros, or Alberta, to mention a few of the Facebook groups I belong to.

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