Allen Bell left a comment:
Your passion is teaching us at a time when social media is running rampant! Definitely need to know something about using a camera today.
Well, there is the option to simply not care about social media. Surely there are people in the world who don’t post every day on social media and they are doing just fine. Aren’t there?
But can I teach someone to become famous on social media? I can’t make myself famous because I’m a boring middle-aged man, and no one cares about people like that. But I do believe that I have the ability to curate the social media feeds of someone inherently more interesting and photogenic than me, and make them insta-famous.
Leave a comment if you’re interested. (I expect to share the profits, I’m not going to do it for free. But probably, this call for action will be a failure, because the kind of people who are inherently interesting wouldn’t be reading this blog. Can you imagine Justin Bieber reading this blog? I can’t.)
Well, I’m afraid I’m going to give away a hint of my age with this post. When I was young, I took some photos with my father’s SLR camera, but I personally never owned a camera at all for many years. After I took a class in oil painting and was having problems with my still life paintings because I suck at drawing, I had this idea that I could take a photograph of a still life setup, and then be able to more accurately draw it from the photograph. So I bought a cheap 35mm point and shoot camera. I had to deal with the problem of the roll of film having 24 photos. After I took a few pictures of my still life set up, what to do with the remaining 20 pictures? So I took some pictures of stuff, landscape scenes at a nearby park. All of the pictures sucked.
Then I decided, maybe if I had a better camera, the pictures would come out better. I bought a refurbished Minolta x370s with a 50mm f/1.7 prime lens for only $150 at a camera store in a local outlet mall. Another roll of print film, developed at Best Buy, and 24 more crappy photos. That was almost the end of my use of film photography.
At that time, digital cameras were first making their way into the market, and the first digital camera I bought was a Sony Mavica, which took 3.5” disks. The pictures were only 1024 pixels wide or something like that. Real pathetic compared to modern digital cameras, but at the time, it was totally amazing to be able to take a picture and then immediately see it on your computer screen. I got hooked on the technology aspects of photography. I had no creative vision, nothing I really wanted to take pictures of, but the technology behind digital photography was just so freaking amazing, I had to buy a better camera! And thus I was led down the road of gear acquisition hell. I should have just stuck with my painting, although my early paintings sucked as bad as my early photography.
The exhibit opened on September 15 and is closing on November 9. I know, I’m late in reviewing it. But it’s not too late to see it. There are only a few pictures available online, if you want to see the whole thing you have to go there in person and look at the prints. (The Aperture Foundation is heavily invested in the concept that real fine-art photography has to have a physical non-digital manifestation.)
Claude Iverné, a middle-aged French guy takes a bunch of pictures of people in Sudan. Why is it considered Great Art worthy of an exhibit at the prestigious Aperture Gallery?
1. Mr. Iverné had access to exotic and photogenic people, in this case poor people from Sudan. Remember that no one is interested in pictures of regular people and regular places in Western countries, there are countless zillions of photographs like that. Art curators want to see something different and unique.
2. Real photographers are never supposed to talk about their gear, it’s considered uncouth, and there’s no mention of it anywhere at the exhibit, but there’s evidence that Iverné used large format film cameras, and that had to have impressed the curators who probably know what gear was used even though us regular gallery visitors aren’t allowed to know. Any schmuck can grab a DSLR and take hundreds of thousands of pictures, but it takes real effort to travel around Sudan with large-format gear and film.
The prints have a very old-fashioned look to them. All of the prints are very dark, the black and white prints have low contrast. There’s no HDR stuff, no amped-up contrast and sharpening. It’s the opposite of what most photographers posting DSLR photos to Flickr are doing.
3. There’s a social justice angle involving the plight of Sudanese refugees. Liberal curators love that stuff.
Nothing written here should be taken as criticism of the exhibit, I’m just trying to deconstruct the difference between high-brow fine art and the typical dreck that gets posted on the internet.