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Thread: It's only beautiful if you can get a picture of it (part rant, part aethetic quandry)

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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    It's only beautiful if you can get a picture of it (part rant, part aethetic quandry)

    PREAMBLE:

    In Toronto, there is a park called High Park (not as glamorous as the English one, but still nice). At this time of year, on a nice weekend such as this, the park is filled with people coming to see the (sort of) famous cherry blossoms in full bloom. If you ware there when it is busy, you will hear three prevalent sounds. 1. General chatter 2. Babies crying. 3. Cameras. People are so compelled to pull out their cameras and start snapping photos of these trees. I might add that if you search on Google, you will find professionally done photographs of the very trees.

    QUESTION:

    What is the obsession with having to capture a beautiful moment in a picture?

    EXPLORATION:

    Sure there are reasons to take a photo. There is the candid shot of you or you plus other(s), so say "I was here, wasn't that fun?"
    There are those who treat photography as art, but I don't think they would come to photograph a subject at the busiest possible time and use an iphone.
    There are those who want to preserve the image that they are seeing - but again, there are far better images online of the very same thing.

    It seems to be more philosophic. That people believe that if they are looking at something either beautiful or important (like a landmark), it must be photographed. As if, this is the only way to justify the aesthetic experience they are having. Maybe it is a matter of separating the cherry blossoms from the rest of the world. We look at things all day - that's all life is, looking at things. So when we look at something special (aesthetic or important) we have to acknowledge that it is special by snapping a photo.

    Does putting it within the frame of a camera increase the beauty of it? Is it a way to instinctively transform nature into art?

    So I ask you: if you are one of those who feel the need to photograph landmarks that you visit (I'm not judging you for it) - why do you do it?
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

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    I take photos of things so I can look back at them when I'm gone (although in general I don't actually have a camera on me so I don't really take many photos anyway). Anyone can go on google images and find a photo of a beautiful place, a photo that you personally took has far more value in my opinion.

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    Card-carrying Medievalist Lokasenna's Avatar
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    On holiday, I tend to go a little mental with the camera and end up taking far, far too many photos. When I'm in my natural environment, however, I never use a camera - I don't actually own one. I've sometimes wondered about whether to take up photography as a hobby - I often go walking in beautiful locales, and there is a certain pleasure to be had in a well composed picture.
    "I should only believe in a God that would know how to dance. And when I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, solemn: he was the spirit of gravity- through him all things fall. Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay. Come, let us slay the spirit of gravity!" - Nietzsche

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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Volya View Post
    Anyone can go on google images and find a photo of a beautiful place, a photo that you personally took has far more value in my opinion.
    What is the value though? What is the difference between a picture you take of - say - Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and one found on Google images (except that the latter is probably better quality?) What is the mystique that personal pictures have that add to the experience of seeing something beautiful?
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

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    Registered User Emil Miller's Avatar
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    I think it's useful to make a distinction between snapshots and photography : the first being random shots taken on mobile phones or cameras of limited performance whereas the second refers to pictures where greater creativity is at play due to the flexibility that a good camera can offer.
    It requires a certain experience to be able to frame a picture so that it appears as an interesting pictorial representation rather than as an image to be glanced at without the viewer giving a second thought, but whether the photo is well taken or not, a camera gives us a unique power: it's often said that there is no future or past but only the present; a photo confounds this theory because it actually captures a moment that is past, a moment that was and no longer is except that we can still see it as it was. I think that is one reason why some people, perhaps unconsciously, take pictures as well as attempting to create an interesting image. There are many better or professionally made photos of famous landmarks but, no matter how good they are, they are impersonal and don't resonate as those in our own photographic albums; a picture such as one where I'm standing beside Beethoven's grave, for example, holds more meaning for me than one taken of somebody else in the same location. I don't think that putting a scene in a frame increases the beauty of it but it can enhance certain aspects of the scene to provide a more satisfying image pictorially.
    "L'art de la statistique est de tirer des conclusions erronèes a partir de chiffres exacts." Napoléon Bonaparte.

    "Je crois que beaucoup de gens sont dans cet état d’esprit: au fond, ils ne sentent pas concernés par l’Histoire. Mais pourtant, de temps à autre, l’Histoire pose sa main sur eux." Michel Houellebecq.

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    Clinging to Douvres rocks Gilliatt Gurgle's Avatar
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    I enjoy photography for several reasons.
    1. Photography as art, composing a shot that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye even if it turns out my eye is the only one pleased. A sense of pride.

    2. A tool for painters, sculptors- capturing images of a subject that can be referenced in the studio for color matching of the blossoms, details of the stamen, petals, pistil. Yes, these could be found on the web, but the artist may have a particular angle they prefer, cloud pattern or certain shadow pattern cast from Notre Dame’s flying buttresses for example. I am in control of that angle, shadowing, etc.

    3. To satiate the ego; “I was there” bragging rights to share among friends. “That’s me, third from the left on top of Mount Everest.”

    4. To share on the Forums “Pictures Taken by You” thread. Sharing aspects of your culture, flora, fauna, architecture, book shelves,etc., with others around the world.

    5. Capturing memories after the brain loses recall or share a history lesson. "Tell me about this picture uncle Gilliatt?" "Let me see...oh yes, that is a picture of the Berlin Wall from 1988. I will tell you about the wall since it is no longer there."

    6. What Emil said.
    "Mongo only pawn in game of life" - Mongo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKRma7PDW10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Darnay View Post
    What is the value though? What is the difference between a picture you take of - say - Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and one found on Google images (except that the latter is probably better quality?) What is the mystique that personal pictures have that add to the experience of seeing something beautiful?
    I have no idea

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    Registered User Grit's Avatar
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    I always find it baffling when on vacation and people are walking around with their camera glued to their eye. I went to Europe a few summers ago, saw the pantheon, the acropolis, first time in the U.K. Everything I saw was absolutely stunning and amazing, I remember feeling so inspired by the beauty of the cities (far more beautiful than Vancouver from an architectural POV, a lot older as well).

    Every single one of these places was filled to the brim with people who experienced these beauties through the lens of a camera. I believe there's something in the air when you visit something like that, something intangible. I felt goosebumps. I understand wanting to take pictures so you have something to hold on to but I would hope that's not done at the expense of actually seeing and feeling these mystical places.

    Myself, I'd prefer to take only mental photographs. If I ever want to see a picture of those places, I'll google it, and trigger my mental photo album.
    While the truncheon may be used
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    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    I don't take many pictures, but if I did it would be with my phone since that's all I have. Usually, the pictures are of people I know. Sometimes on walks, I'll find something I like about the scenery and take a picture of it. It is like writing a memo in the notebook I also carry and that is how I view its value.

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    confidentially pleased cacian's Avatar
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    it is only beautiful if you let it. pictures an inspiration of love of one's environment and taking pictures is a just one fine gratitude to show our appreciation of valuable beautiful. at least a picture does not try hard because it is just a lense that subjugate itself to nature at the press of a button.
    photography is more uplifting as far as nature is concerned it shows it at its best as oppose to a human hand that will could portray nature at its worse as in painted disasters.
    it may never try
    but when it does it sigh
    it is just that
    good
    it fly

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    Registered User Darcy88's Avatar
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    I have a friend who used to be a professional photographer, mostly nature scenes. He had his work in big time magazines and all that. From there he transitioned to being a mountaineering and kayaking guide. He works across the world, from Greenland to Antarctica and all in between, but he hasn't picked up a camera in years. He says he finds great freedom in experiencing nature there in the moment rather than trying to capture it in a photo.

    I think the explosion in amateur photography can be attributed to two primary developments - cheaper camera technology and social media. Cameras used to cost many hundreds of dollars. Nowadays every cellphone has a decent one built in. Plus people are constantly on facebook, twitter, instagram, ect, trying to put their lives up on the net digitally. Heck my facebook feed is cluttered with banal photos you'd never consider worth capturing. Plates of food seem to be popular subjects.

    The only thing about it that irritates me is how the younger generation doesn't think anything of taking photos or videos of people without asking them. I've had lots of pictures taken of me by strangers. Its annoying. And there's no law against it if you're in a public space.

    Overall I think its fine that people are taking more and more pictures. The more people who do it the more who will develop a gift for photography as an art. Taking pictures can be a lot of fun. Figuring out the settings, how to manipulate angles and all the rest that goes into composing a great photo.
    Last edited by Darcy88; 05-06-2013 at 05:11 AM.
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    Registered User hannah_arendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Darnay View Post
    What is the value though? What is the difference between a picture you take of - say - Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and one found on Google images (except that the latter is probably better quality?) What is the mystique that personal pictures have that add to the experience of seeing something beautiful?
    Last year in Paris, I took many photos of Notre Dame. Every photo is different. I don`t like those from google.

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    Dance Magic Dance OrphanPip's Avatar
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    I think there is a certain degree of alienation that occurs when you view photos taken by other people, especially if they are of people or things you have never seen in person. I often get criticized for not taking pictures when on Holiday. I was touring the US for about a month this summer and people expected me to return with loads of photos, instead of the small handful of pictures of me standing in front of stuff that I did take. When you view a photo you have personally taken I think it evokes a more personal connection to the image. Hannah hits on the point that a personal snapshot is in a way "unique" in that it was taken from a particular position that could only be occupied by you at that particular time, and there is always a special allure to both the unique and the personal.
    "If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia."
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    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    In the past, when I travelled by myself, I rarely took pictures. When travelling with someone, it's fun to have shared reminders of the trip.

    Now, when pictures can be e-mailed to friends, I sometimes send a picture along with my letter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Darnay View Post
    What is the value though? What is the difference between a picture you take of - say - Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and one found on Google images (except that the latter is probably better quality?) What is the mystique that personal pictures have that add to the experience of seeing something beautiful?
    The personal photo represents the personal experience (it has been taken because I was there) and not someone elses. Doesn't matter that pictures from others may be more beautiful.

    Most reasons for which I take photos have already been mentioned (art, memory, show it to others, to cherish the moment etc.). I also take them because they can give me ideas or inspire me for creating own works.
    And personally I just like to "create" (and save) a world in pictures.

    (In my opinion reality is more beautiful when it's not real any more - and photos represent already some kind of abstraction level. I work on this concept in my experiment, that is acutally sleeping a bit (because I spend too much time with hiking and taking pictures )).

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