Musings on Photography


Posted in Uncategorized by Paul Butzi on June 6, 2007


There were some interesting questions in the comments recently, so I thought I’d address two of them.

Oren Grad asks

More questions for Paul, to help sort this out: in this situation, exactly what “quality” are we trying to acquire by acting as though we already have it?

I see at least two distinct possibilities in Paul’s discussion: Deborah Marlin’s feelings about dogs in general and Golden Retrievers in particular, and her urge to take pictures of them.

In the end, does one have to “acquire the quality” – share the feeling – in order to fully “understand” it?

I think that acting as if you had a quality works for any inner state you want but don’t have.  If you want to be less angry, act less angry; eventually you’ll be less angry.  It’s just my observation that as a general thing, our inner state tends to conform to our behavior.

So if you want to really come to grips with Marlin’s dog photography, and you think that some insight into her inner state might be helpful, it seems to me that if you actually engage in making photographs the way she does (imitate her behavior) then to a certain extent, your inner state will tend towards what her inner state was when she made the photos.

Maybe that’s a good thing, or maybe it’s bad.  Maybe it leads to deeper understanding, maybe it doesn’t.  I don’t know.  I just thought it was an interesting idea, and thought I’d put it out there. 

Rory writes:

Which of course brings up whether or not we as photographic website owners have a responsibility to keep our audience happy, or at least to buffer them from ‘about-turns’ in our photographic direction. Paul has avoided such a pitfall by documenting his photographic evolution and his thoughts on why he’s presently doing what he’s doing: he has, in effect, brought all his visitors along with him on his journey. If the only thing that matters is pleasing yourself, irrespective of what anyone else thinks, why post pictures up on the web for people to view?

Over time, I’ve discovered that the websites and blogs I find most interesting are  the ones where people offer a glimpse into some part of their process.  Websites that focus on crowd pleasing ‘finished product’ (either the author’s work, or else the work of others) are interesting for a brief time, and then I rapidly lose interest.  My assumption is that there are other people who feel likewise. 

So I do what I do, and if people like it, then they’ll continue to look.  If they don’t, they’ll stop looking.  Since the audience is self selecting, and can leave at any time, I certainly don’t feel any responsibility to keep the audience happy.  If someone is dissatistified, the appropriate thing for them to do is to wander off and start reading one of the bazillion other blogs out there, or perhaps even better, start a blog of their own.

2 Responses

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  1. Rory said, on June 6, 2007 at 6:03 pm

    I knew you were going to say that. 😉

  2. Oren Grad said, on June 6, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    I just thought it was an interesting idea, and thought I’d put it out there.

    Thanks, Paul. Indeed, an idea doesn’t have to be fully resolved to be usefully thought-provoking for self and others. A blog can be a good place for thinking-out-loud.

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