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The George Best Problem


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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The George Best Problem

13 Sep 2020 11:48AM   Views : 507 Unique : 312


It appears in all walks of life, all professions and hobbies: the essence of it is that if you excel at something, you will be expected to live up to your reputation, to continue to shine, for the rest of your life. People who have become fans don’t really want to allow you to sink back into obscurity for the rest of your life.

And it’s bad enough anyway, as George Best illustrated, so sadly. Just because you had a great talent for one thing, which you could not continue to do for the whole of your life, there’s no reason that you should be good at anything else. I’m not in any way a football fan, but seeing footage of George Best at work, at play, shows me that he had something very special indeed.

It’s the same in music – I’m sure that every ageing pop star tires of singing their greatest hits at every single concert: it gets boring… The clever singer may address both vocal changes and boredom with new additions to the entourage: any Leonard Cohen fan who saw one of his performances in his seventies (with a range of musicians, and the fabulous Webb Sisters cartwheeling across the stage) cannot fail to have been impressed by the young, nervous poet with a guitar grown old, confident and appreciative of his audience. His advice from a 1976 concert stays with me – ‘I advise you all to become rich and famous.’

This takes us to the ‘photographer’s photograph’ – many of us have tired of Program mode and AWB, and want to make images that help us to explore and satisfy our creative instincts. We shoot subjects that are not obvious lens-fodder, and we shoot in unusual ways. I know when I’ve posted one of these, because the votes drag and falter, while a stack of user awards accumulate under it. I deem this to be a great success…

As well as changing style and direction, it’s possible to change rôle. The boxer becomes a coach, bringing ring savvy to a new generation of hopefuls: the artist may become a teacher, and inspire a new generation of creative talents, alongside pursuing increasingly esoteric personal projects, as John Blakemore did. Ringo Starr became the unlikely voice of the railway engines of Sodor…

The Alpha male who is not content to allow the young lions to run ahead of him is doomed to disappointment and sometimes-bloody defeat. Better to find a new, graceful rôle in life.

The important thing, perhaps, is to avoid bitterness and rancour. While George Best could be said to have wasted his later life, he remained amiable and open, a natural gentleman on chat shows even when he was long past football. He seemed to be at ease with himself – and that should probably be our goal as well – wherever we are creatively.


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Robert51 Avatar
Robert51 15 14 147 United Kingdom
13 Sep 2020 12:30PM
Strange this has been something I have thought about a lot of late. As you know I not one for producing straight images and am always looking to produce something different. Most of this after the image has been taken but I have been trying to rediscover the joy of taking pictures again. I have started by going back to various old camera set ups but I had the idea this morning of of setting the ISo at 100,200 or 400 and turning everything auto off. Go back to the time when we really thought about images and seeing what that produces.
The need to keep changing is part of our photography.

I think it was George best who said he spent most of his money on booze, women and wasted the rest.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2064 England
13 Sep 2020 12:35PM
That sounds a very good epitaph for a nice bloke, Robert.

You could always try using film... Use a camera that is nice to use, though - something with a bit of heft and feel to it, rather than a plastic film-holding version of a modern consumer DSLR.
Robert51 Avatar
Robert51 15 14 147 United Kingdom
13 Sep 2020 12:42PM
Thinking about all the menus we now have on a modern camera you wonder why they don't have a total manul mode. May be people may relize they don't need all the gadets after all.

May be like listening to music the whole build up to that moment was the joy of photography and music.

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