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The photography echo chamber.


6 Jan 2019 4:37PM
Is it just me, or is a lot of the photography on the EPZ galleries stuck in an echo chamber, where stuff outside certain genres gets overlooked?

How often do we see the following?
1. Traction engines
2. Steam trains
3..Morris dancers/quirky heritage event
4.Long exposure skies with a ridiculous long exposure (possibly with gassy seashore)
5. A lady with no clothes on reminiscent of Amateur Photographer circa 1977
6. Old aircraft

It seems to me that possibly because some of the above fall into the category of 'male interest' as the WH Smith bookshelf describes them, and the majority of hobbyist photographers are male, it might explain it.

How many votes would Martin Parr or Don McCullin's reportage get on EPZ? I'm not suggesting that we all head down to the Kent coasstline to capture images of asylum seekers 'swampimg' our shores or announce to our beloved that we are nipping out for a spot of war photography, but isn't it time we moved away from cliches?

Why don't we see work like that published in magazines other than 'Traction Engine and Oily Rag Weekly' or 'Amateur Digital Photographer' popping up here more regularly?

Then there's the travel cliches, bloke with magnificent textured beard looking foreign category. Last month I posted a pic of a Coptic bishop looking well, foreign and exotic with beard. I bet my local young curate with magnificent hipster beard and piercings wouldn't do as well?

Thankfully things are changing, more women are coming into photography- the Royal Photographic Society is certainly making efforts here.

How do we get out of our comfort zones?

(Yes, I'll fess up, yes I did post a steam train picture today).

Discuss.....

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hobbo Plus
8 1.3k 2 England
6 Jan 2019 6:05PM
Mmmmmmmmmmm !

A steam train, is a, steam train, is a steam train......

Your photograph of a steam train, needs to be looking completely different, doing something amazing, or, the depiction tells a story or shocks/fascinates the viewer

Be the...Martin Parr...of steam trains/traction engines, old planes or ladies with no clothes on....

Get creative, get different....... above all......ENJOY !

Hobbo
JackAllTog Plus
10 5.4k 58 United Kingdom
6 Jan 2019 6:39PM
On the one hand, you stick to a known genre to improve at it, and you stick to subjects you have access to and enjoy - this is sometimes true of amateurs with limited times and budgets doing what they enjoy in their spare time.

But the likes of Martin Parr and Don became famous with images when far less people had cameras and news editors and magazines gave them assignments they wanted to pursue. These images needed to be different to make sales.

So perhaps the question is would the young Martin and Don's, as unproven names, ever have posted posted in places such as this? Or would those truly unique image makers have been 'spotted' and then diverted by the Sunday times/Magnum or become brand ambassadors for camera manufacturers to showcase the 'different' images.

All that said, we should all try something different now and again - what is something you have never thought of shooting in your standard style before?


6 Jan 2019 6:47PM
Spot on.

I went to my local airport on the busiest day of the year, going to do a feature on plane spotters. It did have the potential to be a bit Martin Parr some of them looked suitably geeky (so that's who buys all those 100 to 400 L lenses). Of course, as always, things didn't go to plan, and the picture of planes queued up ending up in the Daily Mirror to illustrate a baggage handling disaster instead

Yes, you are right, a traction engine is a traction engine. Years ago I was at an RPS meeting, pre digital and very tweedy, where a gentleman had brought his pictures of traction engines along for critique. He proudly told everyone how he had made his own 'press card' to get access to events. Frankly, his prints were flat, and did little to impress the crowd, especially the ones who owned real press cards

It just seemed as if taking a picture of the 'right' things would gain approval.

I'm guilty of posting stuff on EPZ every now and again that ticks the boxes, heritage event, transport etc.It's easy to do.

Any camera club show is usually a rehearsal of the same old themes. Just have a look at the looking back bit of Amateur Photographer where they examine old editions. Nothing changes. It's as if all modern fine artists still kept painting variations of the Mona Lisa and the Haywain.

Now, of course there are some marvellous train and wildlife (I forgot motorbikes too) pictures up here, but very little in the way of reporting of the events themselves. Yep, bring on the Martin Parrs of traction engine photography.
6 Jan 2019 7:06PM
JackAll Together, an excellent set of points.

Brand ambassadors, I bought a friend's late father's OM2 off him as a they were kit used by two of my favourite photographers McCullin and Terry Fincher.

Throughout the last 40 years I have had to adapt to different genres. I've gone from amateur documentary photography to wedding shooting on 35mm and then medium format to press photography on 35mm colour to being a pioneer in the local paper shooting digitally. The last 10 years on a large regional ended up having to learn food and restaurant photography from scratch, and then nightclub photography for local papers. I'd never come across either field before, so I worked on my own unique style.

Of course, understanding the grammar of photography, depth of field, lighting, motion stopping/blurring helps you adapt to something new. Maybe it would be great if local authority evening classes still existed (I taught one for 5 years). If people had structured learning they might learn that you can write the basic rules of photography on 2 sides of A4, and beyond that, the world is open to you?
dudler Plus
15 827 1474 England
6 Jan 2019 10:34PM
I think one part of the explanation is that this site attracts all levels of photographers: from the snapshot with a mobile to the hardened professionals. And the steam train nuts, and... everyone else.

They all vote for their own interests and, frankly, their friends, unless htey have time to browse the galleries daily. It's not cliqueiness, necessarily, but a filtering down to stuff you know you'll enjoy.

It's easy to do the crowd-pleasers adequately (with some practice, for the genres that are more demanding of gear or timing), so loads of people do them. Some badly, but that's fine.

Doing anything cutting edge is a problem, always and everywhere: it unsettles, it offends. In my own area of interest, nudes and erotic images, Amateur Photograpehr abandoned an annual erotica issue because the new wave, the leading practitioners, were doing stuff that a good proportion of readers objected to in a 'family magazine' - and so did WH Smith. And the then-editor decided that if he couldn't publish innovative stuff without damaging circulation badly, it was better to leave it out completely. I understand that.

And that's why the mediocre Eighties glamour survives: a little bit titillating, but not rocking too many boats. Similarly with the best of reportage - we don't often see it in British photo magazines, and certainly not the gory latest attack on Palestinian farmers that you can often see in foreign magazines.

Lots of people like steam trains, traction engines, Dad's car, and beardie natives. A very few post good modern portraits - and give up if the votes don't arrive. It takes persistence to build a following on here, too - a reputation for doing interesting things, for tilting the horizon, for breaking bounds (without frightening hte horses).

And there's no denying that networking works here... If you comment and vote, people will maybe look and comment and vote back.

Human nature - not ideal but it's how we're wired as a species.

And I know that's only a few fragments of parts of hte picture...
6 Jan 2019 10:51PM
Excellent comment.

There's a lovely but in an early Adrian Mole book where the Asian newsagent gives himma copy of Big and Bouncy and Amateur Photographer that he hides under his mattress.

I can see why AP might have abandoned it's gratuitous covers of old. They now have to appeal to a mixed audience.

Upsetting readers is always risky. I remember the day I shot a funeral following a racist murder of a taxi driver. I really, really wasn't sure about the body in the coffin shot. The desk and the editor went for it big on the front page.

I like the idea of new challenges. Maybe the thing to do is to NOT look how everyone else does something on EPZ first, and create from scratch.
dudler Plus
15 827 1474 England
7 Jan 2019 1:38PM
Or use what you see as an 'avoid' steer for your own work...
JackAllTog Plus
10 5.4k 58 United Kingdom
7 Jan 2019 2:01PM
Many of the names mentioned are those of photographers that became famous for shooting people in situations; Is the skill of these photographs the skill of regularly getting to the interesting people situations?

Are people really only ever the new/fresh photographic subjects. ( perhaps with a new building thrown in now and again).
mrswoolybill Plus
12 1.4k 2038 United Kingdom
7 Jan 2019 3:34PM
I'll echo Phil Taylor's concerns, it is something that bothers me about ePHOTOzine, and British photography (which still dominates the site) in general.

There is actually a fairly wide range of genres and styles uploaded, but that range isn't necessarily reflected in appreciation or recognition. I looked at the Awarded gallery and did some five-bar gates... Over quite a long period of time, the break-down was:

'Bigger picture' landscapes: 32%
Birds: 28%
Very young women in varying states of undress: 23%
Other (including other humans subjects and non-feathered wildlife): just 17%

It seems strangely unbalanced, reflecting only a small segment of our experience of life. I don't think anyone has mentioned birds (feathered) yet, but why do so many photographers find them more interesting than our own species? I have never heard a rational explanation for that...

Two asides. I think the feathers obsession is a phenomenon of the anglophone world. Whenever I am abroad I make a point of checking out the local photography magazines. I have never yet seen a feathers photo in a foreign language magazine. I'm sure it occurs, but the European photography press certainly seems to concentrate on the human species, our experience, our environment.

Secondly: Every so often a collection of early photographs comes to light. I have some knowledge of this story. Some years ago, John Moreels, last in a long-established family of printers in Newcastle, decided to retire and sell the premises. When he explored the loft for the first time he found a collection of something approaching a quarter of a million early photographic plates and negatives from the early days through to the first half of the 20th Century. These are gradually being conserved and archived.

John does a series of talks that I have attended and I am always interested to see the audience's response to the different images. The collection covers the full range of genres that we know today.

There is art work - Still Life, landscape, flower studies, studio portraits. These rarely excite any interest.

The work that really gets people animated is what we would now class as street photography and reportage. Local events, workers in factories and shops, street shots, the Newcastle Quayside market in particular. This is the photography that people value from the past, I see no reason why it won't be the photography that people in the future will look to from our age. And yet so many photographers regard it as trivial.
JackAllTog Plus
10 5.4k 58 United Kingdom
7 Jan 2019 3:57PM
LOL - I've a new plan on ePhotozine now Wink - Have you seen pointless on the television ? To be totally unique, and valued after my life for my photography, I should aim for Zero votes on my photos as then i'll be a trail blazer of the 2010's in years to come.

I think photography is often great when catching rare moments of potential history. Not asset stock images that apply to any moment.
bluesandtwos 9 378 1 England
7 Jan 2019 4:40PM
Here's my take on it, and it probably is only my take!Grin

I take/make pictures purely for pleasure, no one buys them, I'm not commisioned to take pictures of anyone ot anything, in fact if it wasn't for this site most would only ever be seen by me...and that's fine.Smile I do it for me.

I like the ambience around old trains, but I'm not an anorak so if there's a picture put up that evokes some of that ambience I will enjoy that, and vote.
I like going to 1940 s do s, see above.
Landscape, if it's a place I know, or would like to know, that's fine. I will never get to Russia but I love Leo s images too.
The naked and beautiful I will vote for, but only if it makes me feel something (and not the obvious, behave!Grin)
As with Moira I don't really get the bird thing, but very many do, and if it gives pleasure, then why not.
Also on Moiras theme I love people pictures, but mainly photos of the past. Can't really explain why, but maybe it's 'touching the past', a fascination of how life used to be. As for 'street' pictures taken now, well, they are the past of the future. And again, anything that gives pleasure without detriment to others has to be a good thing.
Pictures with humour, any picture that makes me smile or laugh is priceless, but my favourite genre, now sadly not often represented on the site is the weird and wonderful. Things that evolve from peoples imagination and arrive into the real world as an image. There used to be some brilliant poeple here, now sadly missed, like Eviscera, DaveU and TanyaH. We still have a few, but they are only a few.
Many of us, as stated by someone else above, are limited by means, opportunity, time or skills ( that's me folks!Smile) so we just do what we can and enjoy it!
So...we take what we like and what we can, and we ( I ) vote for whatever I have had the pleasure of enjoying seeing. Smile

Dave
keith selmes 15 7.4k 1 United Kingdom
8 Jan 2019 12:24PM
One thing that keeps echoing round the chamber is threads about hackneyed photo topics.
This one has got a slight kink in the echo because it hasn't mentioned bird-on-a-twig or long-exposure-waterfall . ( Unitl now Smile )

(Perhaps I've been doing this too long!)
Ross_D Plus
5 817 1 United Kingdom
8 Jan 2019 12:44PM

Quote:it hasn't mentioned bird-on-a-twig


Kingfishers spring to mind................ kingfishers, kingfishers, kingfishers ...............how many kingfishers can there be ?? When you've seen one kingfisher you've seen them all ! On a serious note, the best (IMO) bird- not- on- a- twig photo was the osprey snatching a fish from the surface of a lake (taken at Loch Garten if I remember correctly )
8 Jan 2019 1:02PM
And motorbikes. Frozen, no signs of movement, very long lens, not much depth of field.

Kai Wong did a video on things we should stop photographing, gassy waterfalls make the cut.

Second only to 'foreign bloke looking foreign with big bushy beard'. Hold on, I have two of those in my collection, but from editorial jobs.

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