Weightless Opinion

Your opinion hits the internet without a sound. It doesn’t last. It has no weight. No mass. Yet, it doesn’t go away; not that fast.

I have recurring questions, of my own, and those of the common ground; those questions raised so often, by so many, they seem to have no author. Today, it is this one: who is the judge of your photography; how does it get seen; by whom?

This post was prompted by one person, Bob Carnie, and his online statement doubting the value of jpeg submissions for a print show. Does he believe this; does he live by this; or are his statements based upon FOMO and a rather small career as a working artist. He, aside from age, would be termed early stage artist. Instead of engaging in art making, he is a craft stumbler. By this I mean, he learns from the online weekend throngs. The people of the forum are his audience as well as his teachers. It is that group that he expresses to impress. What they share is gear talk; they’re all stuck in first gear.

They may appear to be action oriented, but most of their daily toil is chatting online. Sometimes, taking months to gather opinions that could be tested in their studio in hours. This is the ultimate FOMO (fear of missing out). What would Wilbur say?

Forums are the ultimate FOMO Socials

Two options, one judge:

were original prints submitted for viewing or jpegs of the prints… I am not comfortable to have work submitted to any online call for entry or competition where real prints are not being evaluated. with PS and lightroom a potato can become a diamond.

Bob Carnie, (about this show: https://www.photo-historica.com/finalselections

On the other hand, he is the judge for Xpose – CAPIC show in which you are told: Please submit all images to xpose@capic.org with the subject line “Xposé 2019”. In the body of the email please include: Your name, phone number, website, and title of photograph(s). Your image(s) should be 1200 pixels @72 dpi on the longest size, in JPEG format, and sRGB colour space https://capic.org/events/xpose/

By claiming that prints must be seen, they assert a privilege of object, a material object; something easily owned. Something for the wall. Additionally, they suggest that you have to make em to understand em. (no one understands poetry; no one makes it). In the case of the gum-over guy, this means 4 years on the internet, asking his fellow underachievers how, how-much it takes to do gums.

Opinion Over Judgement

Do as I say. Do I say what I believe? Are his statements consistent? Certainly, in one sense. He has a belief that jpegs shouldn’t be judged, but he will join in an event because it provides him other benefits. If he didn’t believe it, why would he support it? Maybe someone put a wallet to his head.

Ongoing Questions

  • why didn’t they get further. is their expectation blocking their experience. does the object stop understanding by reducing experience to that which can only be seen in person.
  • this isn’t that interesting, it doesn’t compare, compete in this on-screen world, but if you could see it, that thing I crafted so well, you would know I’m a good artist, one better than it seems from this distance.
  • we are better than the world of books and museums.
  • what is the photograph. who, how can it be judged? Who manages the bridge; maybe a troll.

A reminder of the founding question, our first stumble is over what makes something worthwhile. Is art supposed to be an object; something difficult to make?

Following Old Trails

following another’s footsteps makes you a tourist not a guide

Arriving Late

You may miss the plot, the arc of what came before, and think the ending is the story.


You begin in the footsteps of others; you walk behind them before you make your own path. you follow their path, retaking their footsteps, you learn how to do it: you follow the technical. the technical, if it’s amidol and azo, lead you into a narrowing market space; an expensive place in which you have to solve technical and  the economic, before you can set yourself free enough to solve your own problems; the problems that you define. This dalliance keeps the romance without requiring esthetic commitment. To keep yourself from realizing this, you rationalize the affair, calling it Printmaking.

The Printmaker Excuse

thinking that the problem to solve is just a printmaker one, your task becomes making yourself into a printmaker. this is codeword for saying you don’t have to have an image concept, an origin aesthetic; rely upon an aesthetic concept that’s been done. You can follow the prepared guidebook. Picture types come prepared with payment. you already know what you’re going to point the camera at. Maybe a rock, or sunset, a girl..

How bout a girl on a rock at sunset

massArtistsLF.001Unless you are a Carnie. Most long time participants in online photo forums limit their discussion to method and technique. They never understand this limits their growth. Carnie is one longtime dedicated participant. He serves as archtypical printmaker. As he notes: Now I just have to think of a subject.


Simple Complex

The simplified process of Weston becomes a complicated process without a manufacture. Mistaking the wand for the magic. No one bemoans the end of Weston’s light bulb, neither do they ask the type of contact frame used. Charis on a dune, with perfect drop shadow is more important than bulb, camera, developer, or paper. Translation is never better by reading a more accurate dictionary.

Take What You Need

Rather than taking from Weston the specifics, take the general, the bigger constant — work simply, but work a lot. Use what is at hand until it runs out. Then find another.

What Weston did was point his camera well. He, also, was first on the calendar; it was his footprint you saw on the dune. If you’re going to follow, follow the awareness, not the technical.  that is the artist’s move, not the salesman’s gambit.

References & Notes

early printing was platinum requiring contact prints, which he abandoned when it became scares and expensive. He switched to Azo and Amidol in California. [Newhall 1984, p. 110.]

  • weston bad portrait studio .. retail portraits need retouching . big neg makes easier
  • contact prints on slow paper
  • paper no longer produced
  • weston switches paper, but keeps camera
  • improves exposure quickly adopting Weston meter. more single negative exposures. cheaper, easier field work.. more images
  • At Pt Lobos he worked on the edge of the coast.. a long distant horizontal — down was detail, up was the line — the distance marker.

webionaire links AMIDOL CHLORIDE PAPER

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