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Being unprepared will not cause you to be creat...

Published February 16th, 2012

David Mamet is very right when he says that being unprepared on set will not cause you to be creative, at the best you can copy something that you know works or do something interesting that may not be right for the story. He says that directing is all done before the cameras and crew show up. David Mamet’s On Directing Film

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What define being a photographer

Published February 8th, 2012

The amount of time spend in front of a screen is beginning to define what “being a photographer” is like these days.

-Wesley Mann,photographer, New York

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Photo Critic Expert

Published February 8th, 2012

Anyone claiming to be a photo critic expert is selling something. I brandish my ignorance like a crucifix at vampires.

-After Aaron Bady

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Custodians of High Art

Published February 1st, 2012

One of the great powers of the internet community is its ability to criticize the idea of the objective opinion, to shame the unquestioning critics' insistence that this or that is a work that everyone must like or dislike. Who see themselves as custodians of high art frequently stumble in recognising significantly innovative or original work

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The Ugly End of Cameras

Published January 14th, 2012

On a recent trip to the Galapagos I counted cameras: smartphones outnumbered everything else in use, and by a substantial margin. That was a bit of a shocker to me, and shows how fast things have changed in the photo taking world. Not too long ago, Galapagos tourism was mostly a SLR/DSLR world.

Overall, the smartphone trend is driven by the young (and getting younger), the retro/interchangeable trend driven by an older, more mature user. Photos are heading more and more into the cloud rather than local hard drives, getting printed less, and neither camera companies nor camera users seem to get the fact that electronic display is the likely future but is typically maxed out at 1920x1080 due to HD TV definitions.

if there is one thing that camera manufacturers have shown in the past, is that they are pretty poor at the software side of things – aspects of what you actually do with photos once you’ve taken them.

In 2008, mobile phones with cameras were cited by only 18% of respondents ...

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Advice for authors

Published January 11th, 2012

1. Please understand that book publishing is an organized hobby, not a business.

The return on equity and return on time for authors and for publishers is horrendous. If you’re doing it for the money, you’re going to be disappointed.

On the other hand, there’s a worldview that’s quite common that says that people who write books know what they are talking about

2. The timeframe for the launch of books has gone to unrealistic.

When the world moved more slowly, waiting more than a year for a book to come out was not great, but tolerable. Today, even though all other media has accelerated rapidly, books still take a year or more. You need to consider what the shelf life of your idea is.

3. There is no such thing as effective book promotion by a book publisher.

Out of the 75,000 titles published last year in the US alone, I figure 100 were effectively promoted by the publishers. This leaves a pretty big gap.

This gap is either unfilled, in which case the book fails, or it is filled ...

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Creativity that stand out

Published January 6th, 2012

To get creativity that stand out, you need people who are more excited by what is possible than they are scared of looking foolish.

Mark Choueke

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Express reality as felt

Published December 24th, 2011

The purpose of the artist is to express reality as felt

Robert Motherwell

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Is art quality relevant?

Published December 17th, 2011

We want to believe that our delight in a fine painting/photography or bottle of wine is due entirely to its quality. But that’s not the way reality works.

The scientists argue that price shift the preferences of the wine tasters, so that the $90 Cabernet seems to taste better than the $35 Cabernet, even though they were actually the same wine.

Subjects consistently report that the more expensive or famous paintings and photos are better, even though they were actually the same art. It is a perennial truth of the art business that high values or fame tend to attract critical endorsement.

The attractiveness of a photo increases with the number of people liking it. The popularity play as large a role in determining the rank of a successful photo as the technical skills qualities. Why a photo is popular may not have any answer.What we call talent usually comes from success, rather than its opposite.

http://more ...

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Ask them what they have in their portfolios

Published December 12th, 2011

"Never ask anyone for their opinion. Ask them what they have in their portfolios"

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Stools by artist Ai Weiwei, for half a million ...

Published December 8th, 2011

• People keep the market hot by manipulating auctions.

• You pay a premium for a piece once owned by someone famous.

• Something that has been shown in a museum is worth extra.

• The prestige factor :

 The price paid for a work is the trophy itself

 The people who are spending record amounts on art buy more than the pleasure of contemplating pictures, which they could get for $20 at any museum. They’ve purchased boasting rights.

 What you buy is less about the object than the cash you threw at it.

 Prices keep mounting as collectors compete for this “super-status effect.”

• Dollars are easier to measure than beauty: the easiest way to gauge the aesthetic “sense” of an art purchase is to check out the price the thing is selling for. When you’re looking for great art, you may spot it by its price tag.

• When you make headlines by spending vast sums on newcomer artists you can become a tastemaker yourself, instead of having to ...

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Published December 7th, 2011

"When we see images that are similar to the images that we think are great, there’s an association, a connection that is positive. These are derivative images. But instead of being a negative aspect, these images get elevated, often to the highest awards and often without realizing we’re just awarding what worked in the past."

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Art buyer pleasure these days is to be found i...

Published December 7th, 2011

"Being an art buyer these days is comprehensively and indisputably vulgar.

Artistic credentials are au courant in the important business of being seen as cultured, elegant and, of course, stupendously rich.

Do any of these people actually enjoy looking at art? Or do they simply enjoy having easily recognised, big-brand name pictures, bought ostentatiously in auction rooms at eye-catching prices, to decorate their several homes, floating and otherwise, in an instant demonstration of drop-dead coolth and wealth. Their pleasure is to be found in having their lovely friends measuring the weight of their baubles, and being awestruck."

-Charles Saatchi, the most important British art collector of his generation, his gallery has become a showroom for upcoming auction lots, had made many millions selling on much of his collection. ...

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The pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of per...

Published December 1st, 2011

The pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of perfection are mutually exclusive. I ask you to imagine a person you know who is a perfectionist. Are they smiling?

-Robert Mankoff

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Andy Warhol is an art-world colossus whose work...

Published November 21st, 2011

Bryan Appleyard's text highlights


To attract material at the top end, auction houses pre-sell the material to ‘irrevocable bidders’. They are deliberate, orchestrated events. Irrevocable bids are guaranteed, pre-saleroom offers that ensure a work does not go unsold. But they also ensure that the price at auction may not strictly be a transparent meeting point between supply and demand; at times the auctions are little more than a theatre of private deals. Such arrangements are commonplace throughout the market.

Warhol is the most powerful contemporary-art brand that exists. Picasso is another. It’s about sheer, instant recognition and what comes along with it is a sense of wealth, glamour and power.

It is a perennial truth of the art business that high values tend to attract critical endorsement. It is almost inevitable, therefore, that Warhol should be critically as well as commercially acclaimed. If you look ...

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Before the Photoshop era: Every photograph was ...

Published November 18th, 2011

Ye Fakers

Camera Work, No.1, January 1903

by Edward Steichen

It is rather amusing, this tendency of the wise to regard a print which has been locally manipulated as irrational photography–this tendency which finds an esthetic tone of expression in the word faked.

A manipulated print may not be a photograph. The personal intervention between the action of the light and the print itself may be a blemish on the purity of photography. But, whether this intervention consists merely of marking, shading and tinting in a direct print, or of stippling, painting and scratching on the negative, or of using glycerine, brush and mop on a print, faking has set in, and the results must always depend on the photographer, upon his personality, his technical ability and his feeling.

But long before this stage of conscious manipulation has been begun, faking has already set in. In the very beginning, when the operator controls and regulates this time exposure, when in the dark-room the developer is ...

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How much are manipulated photographs worth?

Published November 16th, 2011

The most expensive photograph was sold at Christie’s New York. Andreas Gursky's Rhine II became the first photograph to be sold at auction for over $4 million. It is a manipulated photograph.

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Why Holga and Instagram filters are so popular...

Published November 14th, 2011

"My teacher handed me this plastic Holga camera and said, “You’re going to use this and learn to deal with imperfection.” I remember developing the first roll and the feeling I got from the vignetting and the light leaks that came from the blurry plastic lens. That transformed the way I looked at photography—from trying to replicate reality into taking a scene and creating some kind of interpretation of its mood."

-Kevin Systrom, Instagram founder in "Oversaturated: Is Instagram’s Popularity Changing Photography?"

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If you see things as they really are, you are n...

Published November 5th, 2011

No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist." -Oscar Wilde

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What is to be a successful photographer?

Published October 31st, 2011

To be a successful photographer is to be connected to the right channels, presenting to the right audience and in the right manner. It’s who you know, not what you can do. It is like a networking popularity contest, or how one presents/markets his or herself.

-Paraphrases from a anonymous photographer.

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How many of you expect to make your living from...

Published October 25th, 2011

I spoke at the College of Southern Nevada today and asked the following question to an audience of around 200 people.

"How many of you expect to make your living from creating or providing content?"

Close to half of the audience responded by raising their hands up.

When I asked the same audience:

"How many of you believe that you should pay for content?"

Less than a dozen people kept their hands up…

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What is relevant in contemporary photography?

Published October 19th, 2011

What is relevant in contemporary photography? Photography is just many things. But there are amateurs policing the boundaries of what art and photography are. The photography has expanded in such a way that it’s really hard to define what it really is. So no matter what you say about photography, it is, by necessity, limited to a fraction of it.

The more amateurish you are, the higher you aim your ambition to find an anchor in an old practice or imitate Ansel Adams, in a kind of congealing of art photography around the set of values of the perfect image. But what about Diane Arbus or Walker Evans incapacity to print decently? Why believe that photos must have an impeachable veridical relationship to their subject matter, ever? A lot of the great Brassai pictures, for example, are staged pictures. The difference between descriptive and art photography is an obvious authorship marker.

- Paraphrases from SFMOMA symposium.

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To avoid criticism, do nothing

Published October 17th, 2011

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.

-Elbert Hubbard

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Cull everything that isn’t excellent or vital...

Published October 13th, 2011

Gallery owners and publishers do not value “me too” work. Set off on your own. Imitation is like practicing your scales. Even Picasso copied the masters, at least when he was in short pants. When you’re ready to offer your vision of the world and art, at least make it your own.

Cull everything that isn’t excellent or vital. Define what sets the project apart from previous work.

-James Martin, photographer, has produced 20 books and numerous articles.

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Small publishers can make someone’s career by t...

Published October 12th, 2011

Photographers are definitely thinking of photo books in a different way than publishers. They don’t understand that publishing is a business, so publishers are always looking for what will sell. For the large publishers, it’s generally either going to be a retrospective of a major artist, or a book on a well-known and perennially interesting subject.

The larger publishers operate much more like multi-national corporations (which most of them are), and thus have layers and layers of bureaucracy. Whereas those publishers need to sell upwards of 7,500 or 10,000 copies of a book to make it work financially for them, a smaller press can be quite happy with sales of 2-3,000––and often the decision to publish at a small press is made by one person.

The editors and publishers of these smaller presses basically act like curators. Their buyers are basically collectors of their books, and often so trusting of their taste, that these publishers can make someone’s career by their decision t ...

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I'm done spending time creating content for fre...

Published October 8th, 2011

"I started writing a blog. Mixed in with genuine responses was a post by someone who liked the photos of an attractive woman but felt that the rest of the blog was of little value. In the age of free content I guess we need thick skins but it made me step back and really think about how I was spending my time. I should have been swimming or running. But instead I was writing a piece about a $499 camera that will be obsolete in a few months and lost to nearly everyone's memory in a year.

Sure, there's an ego reward that goes along with putting out a blog. On a good day we'll have 12,000 pageviews of the material here. My name recognition among photographers is currently strong. If I liked doing workshops that would be a good thing. If I had products to sell to other photographers that would be a good thing. But the time spent here is time stolen from things that are more important for me.

We had a good run. Now I'm turning my attention back to where it should have been all alo ...

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You have all your life to make art, but a month...

Published October 8th, 2011

If you could go back 10 years, what advice would you give yourself? You have all your life to make art, but a month to make rent. Don’t regret or beat yourself up for not going to art school instead of business school.

-Van Ditthavong, photographer

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I started experimenting...

Published October 3rd, 2011

I was exhausted. Tumblr, Facebook, Flickr and so on. I felt like I was drowning in images, looking all of the same. I was burned out. So I started experimenting. I’m making pictures that surprise me.

Alec Soth in How to Revisit an Iconic Photograph, NYT

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Art Directors see a lot of same photography — j...

Published October 3rd, 2011

Art Directors see a lot of photography, a lot of the same photography — just from different photographers. In the digital age, it’s easy to take a picture. It’s hard to take a picture differently from everyone else though.

- Kim Lowe in "Q&A with Photographer KIM LOWE"

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Take creative risks, you only live once.

Published October 3rd, 2011

Only get into photography if you are passionate – it can be a hard way to make a living. But if you do go for it then take creative risks, you only live once.

- Martin Usborne in "10 minutes with Martin Usborne"

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It is instructive to recall that Henri Matisse ...

Published September 30th, 2011

It is instructive to recall that Henri Matisse himself was originally derided as a "wild beast." To horrified critics, his bold colors and distorted forms were outrageous. A century later, what was once shocking is now considered beautiful.

Cynthia A. Freeland in "But is it art?: An introduction to art theory"

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The falsification of photography didn't start w...

Published September 30th, 2011

"The falsification of photography didn't start with Photoshop, it started with photography. You could look at a photograph and form your own interpretation of it.

Are we that much smarter now? Colin Powell appeared before the United Nations as Secretary of State and showed photographs of plants in Iraq that he claimed produced chemical or biological weaponry. On that basis we went to war."

- Errol Morris on Photography and Reality

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Ten percent of all photos ever taken were taken...

Published September 24th, 2011

Facebook’s photo collection has a staggering 140 billion photos. Facebook reported the photo uploads were running at 6 billion per month.This year people will upload over 70 billion photos to Facebook.

it is estimated that 2.5 billion people in the world today have a digital camera. If the average person snaps 150 photos this year that would be a staggering 375 billion photos.

Ten percent of all photos ever taken were taken in the past 12 months.

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Work towards finding your own voice, your subje...

Published September 22nd, 2011

More importantly, work towards finding your own voice, your subject and your application.

Donovan Wylie, Magnum: Advice for young photographers

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Show us something we have never seen before and...

Published September 22nd, 2011

Try not to take pictures that simply show what something looks like. Show us something we have never seen before and will never see again.

Constantine Manos, Magnum: Advice for young photographers

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Fun is important.

Published September 22nd, 2011

Fun is important. You should like the process and the subject. If you are bored or unhappy with your subject it will show up in the pictures.

Alec Soth, Magnum: Advice for young photographers

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Photograph because you love doing it, because y...

Published September 22nd, 2011

Photograph because you love doing it, because you absolutely have to do it, because the chief reward is going to be the process of doing it. Other rewards – recognition, financial remuneration – come to so few and are so fleeting.

Alex Webb, Magnum: Advice for young photographers

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Make the pictures you feel compelled to make an...

Published September 22nd, 2011

Forget about the profession of being a photographer. First be a photographer and maybe the profession will come after. Make the pictures you feel compelled to make and perhaps that will lead to a career.

– Christopher Anderson, Magnum: Advice for young photographers

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With everyone being able to easily make technic...

Published September 22nd, 2011

Today, with everyone being able to easily make technically perfect photographs with a cell phone, you need to be an “author”. It is all about authorship, authorship and authorship.

–David Alan Harvey, Magnum: Advice for young photographers

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A client must see your work in around 5 differe...

Published August 17th, 2011

A general rule that a client must see your work in around 5 different places before they will place you on the "to hire someday" list seems smart. Don't forget the old advertising adage: "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half."

- Rob Haggart

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Myth: Photographers are the best editors of the...

Published August 14th, 2011

The photographer is often too close to the subject matter, invests the content with emotion which might not be present in the picture, and believes that in order to be “true to myself” he/she has a special insight into the work. But the best editors/selectors of images are those who are capable of divorcing themselves from emotion when judging their own (or others’) work and assessing picture merit dispassionately and with a cold logic.

On Being a Photographer by Bill Jay, David Hurn

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Myth: Critics and theorists are useful to photo...

Published August 14th, 2011

Critical theory is not only useless, it is also positively dangerous. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the production of fine photographs. The irony here is that most of the top photographers, often cited by the critics, have never read these theories, would not understand them even if they encountered them, and have no idea that such an influential group of thinkers exists in the medium. The dangerous aspect of theory for young photographers is that attempting to apply its precepts leads to total paralysis.

On Being a Photographer by Bill Jay, David Hurn

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What’s it like photographing a National Geograp...

Published August 14th, 2011

Photography on very convoluted stories often flows like this: 70 percent research/logistics, 20 percent serendipity and 10 percent photography. A National Geographic magazine story is like producing a doctoral thesis.

Blog of John Stanmeyer

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What we call talent usually comes from success...

Published August 6th, 2011

There is a problem in the notion of good art as a good technical skill that can lead to success. A photo popularity ranking is random. Why a photo is popular may not have any answer. The attractiveness of a photo increases with the number of people liking it. The popularity play as large a role in determining the rank of a successful photo as the technical skills qualities. What we call talent usually comes from success, rather than its opposite.

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Absolute truth is not the only thing photograph...

Published August 6th, 2011

"If absolute truth were the only thing photography had to offer, it would have disappeared a century ago. Photography isn't merely a window on the world, it's a portal into the unconscious, wide open to fantasies, nightmares, obsessions, and the purest abstraction"

Vince Aletti, art editor and photography critic at the Village Voice, New Yorker, and Photograph.


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Remain true to your vision...

Published August 6th, 2011

"The only thing an artist can do is remain true to whatever vision, (lack of) talent, or ideas that happened to pick them in order to be made known to the world. Every artist will one day face the moment when he or she is doing what he or she does after the style has passed and the art-world heat-seeking machine has moved on."

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