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Simplicity vs. Complexity (and art)

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Sherlock77, Jan 21, 2022.

  1. Sherlock77

    Sherlock77 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I've heard lots of artist talks, some recently, about how to achieve simplicity in photography... But it's primarily aimed at landscape/nature photography which is something I rarely doI

    When faced with a seemingly universal desire for simplicity with most other people in photography circles, my urban photography is very complex, and very challenging to achieve something simple

    Yet I also revel in the complex sometimes, and the energy it can convey, I've said it before how much of what I photograph isn't generally all that soothing...

    This photo of mine from 2017 represents how complex the urban world is, and I love that energy! And this photo is more carefully crafted than most people realize...

    Street Photo 08.jpg

    And street photography can sometimes be fairly simple, I took this one recently, so it can be achieved, but some of my favourite street photography is fairly "messy", and most of it doesn't fit into the concept of simplicity, and I've said it before, I don't really care... And even this photo probably isn't simple enough for many people, but I only have so much control of other elements of an image...

    Street Photo 05.jpg
     
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  2. watersprite

    watersprite inadvertent vagabond V.I.P Member

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    Have you considered getting into film making?
    Your work hints at a narrative, kinds of skims along almost telling us its secrets. It is poetic. Just right, as is.
     
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  3. Sherlock77

    Sherlock77 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I'm not much into video, mostly interested in still images, but a good thought...
     
  4. Sherlock77

    Sherlock77 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    To explain further, street photography is a form of narrative, even as one still image... It's a completely different beast to nature/landscape, and frankly those photographers have trouble understanding street photography, because they are so busy making their nature scenes so perfect... Street photography is very imperfect at its best...

    This is not in any way to put down landscape photographers, I try to appreciate all genres of photography, yet find that many (not all) landscape photographers tend to look down at the imperfection of street photography...

    Just been organizing/sorting through some older photos, another one from 2018, ultimately a stranger portrait, but I was paying attention to the background and what I saw (the other lady that is) walking by, it wasn't really random where some people might think it was, there is a craft to it

    Street Photo 10.jpg
     
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  5. Sherlock77

    Sherlock77 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Or another 2017 photo, I will keep taking photos even when someone else walks by, often they don't even notice the photographer, but there is a story element here, IMHO at least, some of the reactions... In my opinion, far more dynamic than landscape photography, yes I am still an Aspie, although high functioning :) I was doing this long before I was diagnosed, so don't know any better now :p Street Photo 09.jpg
     
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  6. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Interesting subject. Point taken. When you examine photographic explanations of "simplicity", you'll find that they demand a great deal of the photographer's ability to minimize what is found within their viewfinder. Yet in the context of street photography, I'd wager that more often than not a photographer may not have the luxury of controlling- or minimizing what is happening compared to that of a landscape scenario. When things captured within your camera's viewfinder occur in an instant- and little else.

    Where a photographer is largely subject to being in the right place at the right time, without any predictability.

    Conversely a landscape photo opportunity changes primarily with weather- and nature. A photograph of humanity can involve infinite conditions, whether social or physical in comparison. A much more complex subject, largely because it involves far more impromptu situations.

    Though I will say this as a personal bias. That the most primary way to simplify most any image of humanity is to contain the colors to only grayscale. To me those are the photos of humanity and even on occasion nature (shoutout to Ansel Adams) that stand out the most. In essence your black and white photos of humanity resonate with me. Color? Not so much. That for me color can too easily obscure whatever story is attempting to be told within a single image.

    I get what some sources are saying: Simplicity in Photography: Why Simple Photos Are Usually Best

    However I get what @Sherlock77 is saying even more. ;)
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2022
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  7. Sherlock77

    Sherlock77 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    A good quote from the article you posted, that I think says it all, unfortunately it's at the bottom:

    Are simple photos always better than more complex photos?
    That depends. Generally speaking, simplicity is better than complexity in photography, because it’s much easier to manage simple scenes (whereas complex scenes can turn into a nightmare of shapes and lines). But there are some stunning photos that are very complex; it just takes a lot of skill to create a beautiful-yet-complex composition. That’s why I recommend you keep things simple whenever possible.
     
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  8. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Ultimately I suspect that with most any impromptu photo opportunity, one has two choices to improve upon the "simplicity factor".

    1. - Crop the image to delete extraneous and distracting details.
    2. - Skillful use of Photoshop to alter or delete such concerns.

    Beyond that, in most instances I'd think the photographer is basically at the mercy of their subjects. Which makes what @Sherlock77 is doing so difficult to begin with.

    It's why in most instances the only time I seriously photograph human subjects is when I can direct them to some degree. Otherwise it's like photographing animals.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2022
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  9. Sherlock77

    Sherlock77 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    And excellent skills of observation, and over many years of doing it a sense of anticipation (what might happen based on what I'm observing)

    Anyway, the weekend is here, off for my walk now!
     
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  10. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    How true. It's why I'm always in awe of those who have the gift of composition.

    Reminds me of a girlfriend I met through a local adult education photography school. Quick anticipation of superior composition just came easy to her...where it never has for me.

    However with Photoshop, I have learned to somewhat compensate for this well after the photo is taken. Though in most cases I doubt I could artificially create an entire social narrative from scratch. Nor would I want to, at least in this particular context. That I'll leave to Madison Avenue advertising. Too bad I didn't earn what they do for that sort of thing! :oops:

    Though I'm willing to admit, in many cases I have much more fun achieving what I want through digital image manipulation than simply pressing my camera's shutter. My bad. :cool:
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2022
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