chantal stone photography: the blog

March 29, 2007

On ‘Clichés’…

Filed under: Lists,Photographers/Artists — chantal @ 10:18 pm

So… in my previous post, I mentioned ‘photo cliches’….or so-called clichés. What makes a cliché anyway? Something that is over-done? Like I said before, I think certain subjects are photographed often because they are beautiful and interesting, and for whatever reason, artists are attracted to them.

A while ago I came across this. It’s a list of so-called ‘photoblog clichés’ from the Photoblogs.org Wiki. And it’s true, if you browse enough photoblogs you’re going to come across many, many repeating themes and subjects. It can be a little redundant, but each photograph is still unique, creating with a unique eye…by someone either practicing a newly learned technique, polishing an old craft, or simply creating something new out of something familiar. (I gotta admit though, I’ve seen more than my share of random junk on beaches, over-saturated against an HDR sky!)

Here’s the list:

Photoblogging is generally undertaken by amateur photographers. It is often the case that photobloggers shoot the same subject and these subjects have become known as clichés within photoblogging. A list of such subjects includes:

  • Flower macros
  • Pigeons
  • Squirrels
  • Shopping trollies
  • Eye macros
  • Disgarded / ripped chairs
  • Mannequins
  • Graffiti
  • Sunrises
  • Sunsets
  • Funny signs
  • Homeless people
  • Zoo pictures
  • Aquarium pictures
  • Pictures shot and then modified with stock Photoshop filters
  • Pictures with Photoshopped tilt shift
  • Pictures with Photoshoped holga effects
  • Images shot with a holga (just because you used a holga doesn’t make it good)
  • People in clown makeup (or some other silly costume)
  • Fall foliage
  • Pretty clouds
  • Empty roads
  • Abandoned factories
  • Abandoned buildings
  • Peeling paint
  • Barns
  • Children finger-painting
  • Bubbles
  • Long exposures of the beach at night
  • Seagulls
  • Swans
  • Ducks
  • Water reflections
  • Couples on the beach
  • Your cat
  • Any cat

..and many more besides.

At the end of the list, there is a link to slower.net, where Eliot Shepard talks more about the subject, offering advice to anyone interested in entering Jen Bekman’s Hey Hot Shot! competition. His list of clichés include:

  • Diptychs or other multiple presentations where the photos do not have a direct relationship to one another. Steer clear of juxtaposition for its own sake.
  • Parking lots, lonely shopping carts, gas stations
  • Floral still-lives
  • Suburban emptiness
  • Eerie night photography
  • Beds: empty, unmade, and so on
  • Moody (nude) self-portraiture
  • Meditations on illness or death of a family member
  • Shoes and feet
  • Loosely edited street photography
  • Exuberant Photoshop experiments (Just Say No)
  • Rigorously documentary travel photography

*SIGH* Looks like I need all new material.

Interpretations

Filed under: Articles,Photographers/Artists,Photography — chantal @ 1:41 pm

I recently interviewed photographer Jonathan Greenwald. We discussed his street photography, particularly his images of the homeless in NYC and Toronto. You can read the article here……the comments following are of particular interest. Evidently most people disagreed with Jonathan’s method of photographing the homeless anonymously. They seem to feel that his choice to not interact with his subject is in a way objectifying. Read the comments…you’ll see what I mean. There were a few who actually liked his images, there was even a compliment to my interviewing/writing skills (thanks!!)…but for the most part there was criticism or my titling the article “…Conscientious Street Photographer”.

I avoided making any comments myself, people are entitled to their opinions, not everyone is going to like or agree with what you say, or write, or photograph. And I tend to think that any discussion at all is a good thing. But since the article first appeared on T.O.P. over the weekend…it seems the issue is still not dead. And I feel like my own blog is the perfect venue to voice my own thoughts, opinions, and observations.

First of all, the article initially appeared on Blogcritics Magazine back in February. What I find most interesting is how differently the article was received. There are a few things to consider here: BC readership is much different from T.O.P. readership….BC has a more diverse readership, not just photographers and photo-enthusiasts, etc. Also, the title is different. On BC, the title is “…NYC Street Photographer” (editor choice, not mine). However I don’t really think the change in title would have made any difference in the BC-reader reaction. I think photographers tend to be more critical of each other, than non-photographers are of art and photography.

But why the harsh critique in the first place? There are those who believe that photographing the homeless is a cliche, or is over-done. But tell me, what isn’t? Browse through any photo portfolio or photoblog an you’re bound to see one of the following: flower macros, sunsets/sunrises, dewdrops on leaves, children laughing/playing, a solemn-faced woman next to window under natural light, a crowd of people preoccupied with something with a singular face looking directly at the camera…and I even read somewhere (and tell me this isn’t true) that at one point every photographer will shoot a lone tree in a field.

Doesn’t it stand a reason that photographers will often photograph the same subjects over and over again. We do it because these things are interesting, they are visually stimulating. So what’s up with calling a certain subject a cliche? What subject matter, at one point or other, isn’t??

Now to the issue of Jonathan’s choice not to interact with his subject matter. There are a couple of comments in the T.O.P. thread that defend it very nicely, so I won’t bother here. The fact remains that it is his choice. And really, isn’t the beauty of street photography the spontaneity of it? You can’t really achieve that by talking to every person you shoot. Maybe Jonathan’s critics are looking at his method from the wrong standpoint. If you look at Jonathan’s body of work in the context of photojournalism, then his objective viewpoint is perfectly acceptable—even necessary. Perhaps Jonathan’s critics were coming from a more ‘street photography as art’ point of view, which is fine, but one is no more right or wrong than the other.

I read a lot of books, magazines and blogs about photography, all the time. And there are so many opinions out there, it can get kind of crazy at times. Everyone is a critic, everyone has an opinion…but guess what…no one has the correct opinion. Any opinion is correct.

March 27, 2007

A Few Thoughts…

Filed under: Personal,Photography — chantal @ 1:33 pm

…I may expand upon these later on, but I just didn’t want to let these thoughts slip my mind (it happens).

1.) Friday I received the first set of prints for my exhibit and I was unhappy with them—not with the printing, it was they way I processed them, they weren’t cohesive enough. I worked on them over the weekend and had them re-printed…got them back this afternoon. They look nice. Not 100% what I wanted, a little warmer than expected and not as bright…but they certainly are gallery-worthy. If I had the time, I’d process yet again, but I procrastinated too much and now I’m out of time. Lesson learned. They’re good prints. No one else knows what’s in my head, so by anyone’s standard they are perfect. And I’ll have plenty of time to re-process and print again for my own personal satisfaction.

2.) Mark Hobson, of the Landscapist, wrote something the other day concerning ‘making’ pictures versus ‘taking’ pictures. (He mentions it in this post, but also talks about in other ones…just read his blog, if you don’t already…you’ll benefit, I’m sure). After the process I went through, making the photographs for my exhibit, and just thinking about where I want to go photographically in general, I just get what he’s talking about. In the past I have ‘made’ pictures—a few here and there…always with success and great satisfaction. Three that I made are hanging on my living room wall and serve as a reminder of my potential when I begin to feel the confidence wane (like, a lot!). But for the most part, I’ve just been taking pictures…rather aimlessly, I might add. Sometimes with good results, more often not. It occurred to me though, before reading Mark’s posts, that I want to be the sort of photographer who makes photographs. I’m happiest in that process. It’s a zen-like feeing, in the heart of that process…visualizing, creating, making.

Every once in a while, I feel like I reach another level, creatively speaking. Like my eyes are suddenly opened to some new thing. If there are 100 levels of photographic success, I may only be on #97…but the view is better here than 98, I’m seeing more clearly.

…..more on this later…..

3.) Saturday I held a “Portrait Day”. I’ve been working on building my portfolio and I didn’t have any studio work, so I had this idea to remedy that. I advertised a little here and there, a lot of word of mouth. My mother arranged for me to use the party house at her apt. complex, which is huge and beautiful, and I rented a bunch of lights. I already had the backdrop and a few props. From 9am until about 6:30, I shot portraits. The day was full of appointments, it really was fantastic. There were young couples, babies, families, young girls, siblings, a young woman and her puppy…lots of fun had by all. I only charged $20 for the sitting and with that everyone will receive 4 5×7 prints, with the opportunity to purchase additional prints or enlargements at my usual fee. I have about 1300 images to process, and once I do, I’ll be sure to post the best of the bunch, either here or on my photoblog. (and yes, everyone signed a model-release.)

4.) I’ve been thinking a lot about the two sides of photography I am trying to do: Art and Commercial. Both very different, yet not so much. Hmmm……more on that later too.

March 22, 2007

Time To Breathe

Filed under: Photography,Process/Learning — chantal @ 9:30 am

For the past few weeks I have been working on a couple pieces that will be in an exhibit beginning April 1 at the Mac Worthington Gallery here in Columbus. It’s a small artist’s gallery that represents a large number of artists, mostly local, in various mediums. It’s located in Columbus’ Short North, in the heart of the arts district, and will be part of the monthly Gallery Hop on April 7. So, not exactly the MoMA, but I’m honored, humbled, and super excited to be part of this family of artists.

When I was first offered exhibition, I thought I had an idea of what I would show. I shot a few projects and was happy with the result. After a while I hated it, and did another project…eventually hating that too. I finally decided to just wait until I got my new camera and shoot something totally new. So 17 days ago I photographed my first set of what I thought I would put in my exhibit. I took the images home, loaded the up on the pc, and hated it. I loved the subject, but I realized I needed to re-read my camera manual, AND I realized I needed a new computer… I thought that could wait, but no.

So, a week later, new computer, new software, camera manual read, I go for shoot #2. This time the results were promising. I get home, load the images and thought yeah I could do something with this. But ugh, Photoshop is just a mountain I wasn’t prepared to climb. I got my friend Paul Lester to give me a quick tutorial over the phone, which helped tremendously, but I also had to go out and buy a book. I read it cover to cover. The second shoot wasn’t so promising after all.

Shoot #3. Now it’s crunch time. It was Monday, March 12, and I had 18 days left to shoot, process, print and frame, and have the photographs brought to the gallery. I was hoping to use natural light, but of course it was a gray and rainy day, but I felt confident and prepared and I figured I could make the available light work. This time, the forethought and preparation worked. When I got home and loaded the images, I quickly realized that by getting the look I desired IN camera made my post-processing very minimal, even from RAW. I chose the images I wanted, and it really took me about 6 days to achieve the desired look, but I was intent on getting it ‘right’. I’d process, send off to print, tweak a thing or two, process again, print again…

Last night I sent of the final edit to be printed. I felt good about it too. It felt good to conceptualize an idea, execute it, and then process it the way I had it envisioned. I woke up this morning feeling like a big weight was lifted. But then…

The old demon returned…self-doubt. I won’t receive the prints until tomorrow. That leaves me one week to have them framed—which should be fine, I talked to my frame guy and he said he could do it in a day for me. But what if the color is off, or there’s too much noise, or they just totally suck? I can’t do anything about it until tomorrow, so all there’s left to do it take a deep breath.

I’m too nervous to show the actual images I’m using, but to see one from the set of shots, look here. The others are similar.

This whole process really has me thinking about my photography, the way I shoot, where I see myself going, etc. It’s been a great experience…once I gather some thoughts I’ll write about it some more.

March 20, 2007

Time, Effort, Stamina

Filed under: Uncategorized — chantal @ 9:34 am

I love this…I found it via Sebastian’s blog….very cool:

how to be creative

Huh?

Filed under: Nonsensical/Randomness — chantal @ 9:22 am

What’s the deal with Canadians and Tim Horton’s?

Tim Horten’s commercials are even tooting the Canadians-love-us horn. Now I love our northern border neighbors, I even say all the time that I want to move to Canada (it’s just too hot in Ohio for me).  But TH coffee tastes like sludge and their doughnuts are too tough and chewy…not-melt-in-your-mouth goodness like Dunkin Donuts.

Dunkin Donuts kicks Tim Horten’s butt!

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