Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

March 22, 2008

I’m just Looking – trying to being objective?

Filed under: Art, Photography, Projects/Series — Doug Stockdale @ 9:10 pm

Launry - Hongqiao

One of the responses to the question, “what makes a Contemporary Landscape Photography?”, was the need for it to be viewed as ‘objective’. I think that objectivity is what we want from a judge, to be detached from the proceedings and ensure no bias. Which is a good thing for the courts, but I am not so sure about photography. So this idea has been something that I have been wrestling with more so for the last couple of days.

I suspose the corralory to being objective is to have a photograph which is suggestive, such as an advertisement or a propaganda piece or highly editiorial with a very stong option or expecent message, eh? But have not these same suggestive photographs become over time become to be seen as contemporary photographs, such as Louis Hines, perhaps not at the time that they were published?

Maybe what is meant, is that today, a Contemporary (Landsape) Photograph should appear objective. Perhaps that’s what the photographic buyers have been told by the gallery owners as what is a good buy today. Look for detachment, that would imply that the photographer had figured out a way to appear objective, thus they are creative and smart. Hopefully that does not appear toooo sarcaustic;- )

Oddly, for one of my series that I was working on in China prior to this discussion, was called “I’m Just Looking” (Wo Zhi Kankan) for which it was my intent to photography just what I was looking at. And I had a stamp of the Mandarin charaters for this series made for me while I was in Shanghai one weekend to use inconjunction with the series that I expeced to produce. I guess for me, to say that I am just looking is about as objective as I think I can get.

Because I bring with me all that is me. I can only see and look with my eyes and all of my cultural, educational, experience influenced background and just see those things that are occuring with that perception. Why I photograph what I photograph is because what I see at that moment interests me. For what ever that reason may be, simple or terribly complex. So I stop and make the photograph.

Okay, probably a lot more about this whole thing latter, eh? BTW, the prior post on this subject seemed to get a lot of interest, but only a few commented. I would like you all to add your thoughts please.

Best regards, Doug

BTW this is photograph of a Chinese “launary”. While I was looking in Hongqiao;- )

Best regards, Doug

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3 Comments »

  1. “Because I bring with me all that is me. I can only see and look with my eyes and all of my cultural, educational, experience influenced background and just see those things that are occuring with that perception. Why I photograph what I photograph is because what I see at that moment interests me. For what ever that reason may be, simple or terribly complex. So I stop and make the photograph.”

    Doug,

    This statement from your post sums up my approach to the majority of my photographic work these days. As was discussed in the comments to your previous post, the bias of the photographer has to come in to play somewhere. I look at it this way, my bias is that I only photograph the scenes that I want to share. I also only share what I feel are my best shots of a given scene.

    Comment by Darrell Klein — March 25, 2008 @ 4:43 am

  2. Doug

    your comment about “photographic buyers have been told by the gallery owners as what is a good buy today” does seem just a bit sarcastic, but …. I have written about why I make pictures that appear ‘detached’ or ‘objective’ – which has absolutely nothing to do with trying to pander to either gallery owners or buyers of photography.

    It’s how I ‘see’ and it’s also how I treat the viewers of my pictures with respect.

    I can’t post all my thoughts on this in this comment box. You can read the rest here –

    http://landscapist.squarespace.com/journal/2008/3/25/urban-ku-179-objectivity-vs-passion.html

    maybe you could read it and leave a comment

    Comment by Mark Hobson — March 25, 2008 @ 7:41 pm

  3. DK, thanks! I think that the notion of Just Looking (my way) is a good way to describe an objective way to viewing something, in this case, a landscape.

    Comment by Doug Stockdale — March 26, 2008 @ 2:28 am


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