Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Aug 08 2011

Photography, for laughs and for reals

I just listened, for the first time, to “The Grid”, an online show purportedly about photography with Scott Kelby. It was Episode 18, in which the hosts, Scott and RC, discuss the various social networking sites and display some surprising ignorance of certain areas of photography. “All cameras focus…even the disposable ones from Walgreens!” (Yes, it is a fixed hyperfocal lens, aka  a fixed small aperture and shutter speed where most everything is in focus). “Contrast detect AF works on a G12, it should be the same for the X100” (sensor size makes a huge difference). And of course that anyone who prefers the Fuji to take photos is stupid.

That’s their opinion, of course (the stupid part, that is), but overall it was the dismissive fratboy tone of the whole thing that made me think, well, at least they’re really kick-ass photographers, right? They’re not like Chase Jarvis, more about self promotion than actual photography, or Ken Rockwell, i.e. more about gear promotion, or “Thomas Hawk”, not just obnoxious and confrontational but mediocre photographers as well. I mean, they’re artists on the equivalent of AM talk radio, after all, and have their opinions.

This is where I should have stopped and gone on with my life, perhaps even whistling as I went. But no, I had to visit their photography sites.

Oy. As I have pretty much alienated the entire online photography expert world in a single post, I will refrain from commenting more specifically due to the fact that these guys have the power to squash their detractors like bugs, but…just oy. Ok, I’ll shut up now; No one’s forcing me to listen to the show or look at their stuff, after all, and it behooves me to be grateful for small favors.

Speaking of small favors, I recently read an interview with Joseph Koudelka by Frank Horvat in which Kouldelka gives some insight into his view of photography, how he lives his life, and how the two intertwine. Koudelka’s thought-provoking views aside, what particularly impressed me was how deftly he danced around the mundane nature of Horvat’s questions in order to strike at the heart of the issues at hand, what photography meant to him personally, how he expresses himself though the camera, what he sees, what he is saying.

To me, that is talking about photography, not lowest-common-denominator rants about how people who use a certain camera are idiots, or how to SEO-up your website for hits. The best communication possible with photography is through the photographs themselves. Barring that, any amount of geartalk or Internet popularity games is just a way of trying to fill the void left by lack of vision.

posted by Poagao at 5:43 pm  


  1. Love Joseph Koudelka. You’re the first person I’ve ever heard mention him. No one in the Czech Republic, even at art galleries, had ever heard of him when I mentioned his name. Don’t know what’s up with that.

    That’s the difference between great minds/artists and mediocre ones right? Vision vs. stuck on mechanics.

    Comment by Nick — October 1, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

  2. I have to agree with you on the whole, many of those mentioned are more into pissing contests about gear than what you actually do with it. and I could not agree with you more about the self important “Thomas Hawk”, that guy is as obnoxious as they come, and I still have not figured out why, not like he is a great person, in my opinion, or photographer for that matter.

    Comment by Kirkyshooter — January 28, 2012 @ 6:50 pm

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