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May 17, 2004

Finding Satisfaction While Overloaded, Plus Another Take on Collages


I'm still in the middle of a crazy busy period doing a lot of photography (14 rolls of film and a couple of gigs of digital images) and trying to make various clients happy in the short term. Despite numerous technical snafus that always seem cruelly timed (including scanners, printers, enlargers etc all malfunctioning within days of each other near a big deadline), I somehow got a dozen black and white prints up on Saturday at the ballet studio, followed by four more color ones on Sunday from early weekend dress rehearsals and shows, and thankfully they were very well received. A lot more printing and developing to be done, but thank goodness it seems under control in the short term.

The currency of praise in photography is sadly worth little, given how easily it is dispensed by loved ones and colleagues, and it can be even dangerous for photographers, as it correlates too infrequently with financial rewards or personal growth and spiritual rewards for that matter (as shooting strictly to please others rarely produces personal work). But in reading Kevin's latest post, I'm reminded that sometimes the simplest praise is the most rewarding; in his case, it came from a small gesture from his father, in my case it came from the dancers themselves as I posted the prints right after they finished their pre-show rehearsal...as they saw themselves in candid poses during past classes, in performance, or simply sharing a laugh during a break, they couldn't stop looking at the prints, and one woman just yelled (to no one in particular) "These [pictures] make me so happy, I just want to cry".

It sounds hokey, I'm sure, but I don't sell a single print, I'll still feel fulfilled for having engaged in this project.

first_piece_group_leap_small

Emily and I had a good email exchange regarding the merits (or lack thereof) of Guillem Ramos-Poquí's work in my recent post on photomontage. I've expressed my reservations about a lot of digital photomontage, which too often looks cheesy or merely clever, which made it a pleasure to view Em's own collages from years ago before she even had a camera. Her modest and engaging work was assembled using a scanner and photographs from various sources, and has the depth and personality that so many collages lack, in my opinion. Once again, proof that personality and sound artistic motivation trump equipment and lofty jargon anytime...

More posts and links to come as I extricate myself gradually from my workload...

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Comments

[Regarding "Em's own collages"...]

There certainly is a lot more depth to an image that feels physically melded. More often than not, digital photomontages come off as a series of filters and unconnected imagery, layered atop one another.

Posted by: Walker at May 18, 2004 2:52:13 AM

I'm tellin' ya...it's all in the blending technique. People need to back sloooowly away from the eraser tool.
And yeah, layer upon layer and still, somehow, so much manages to looks so flat.
And then there's not melding things that work together. One random b&w photo in the middle of a collage that isn't b&w...seems some folks don't even attempt a sense of coherence.
My stuff is pretty goofy, but...I think I did ok for someone who was Photoshop self-taught and just wingin' it for fun.

Posted by: Em at May 18, 2004 2:36:45 PM

BTW Em... I hope it was understood that I was complimenting your collages over the collages on that other site.=)

Posted by: Walker at May 19, 2004 3:15:40 AM

Oh, yeah, definitely. But I do look at my stuff and think it's pretty goofy....until I see the other stuff people are putting out there and calling "digital art" or "collage"...gah! Some really bad stuff, then I don't feel quite so bad about it.
I'm sure that the Photoshop skills I taught myself during that time are paying off today. (Well, I hope.)
Nope. No worries. I didn't think you meant that.

Posted by: Em at May 19, 2004 2:02:34 PM

I don't think it's necessarily the breaking of certain "rules" that make for bad collage...one could mix B&W, color, found objects, portraits, rainbows, whatever (well, maybe not rainbows). But I think it's just the overwhelming amount of bad digital blending out there that makes it hard to appreciate well intentioned stuff, and how digital composites tend to look flat unless you're as polished as Em in providing a more organic look.

Lucas Samaras is a good example -- he did all this amazing pre-digital stuff with his self-portraits using Polaroid manipulations, but when he went digital, his stuff suddenly lost its distinction.

Posted by: Robert at May 19, 2004 7:49:53 PM