Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ballot box recap

A recounting of the right sidebar polls since early August:


My vote: 1964
Predicted winner: 1964
Actual winner: The Animals

It's a tough call for me between 1964 and Public Relations. Both are incredible. I think 1964 may have lost to The Animals because it's not a widely circulated book whereas The Animals was recently reprinted. No votes for the underrated Stock Photographs, oh well.


My vote: Within 10 years
Predicted winner: Within 6 years
Actual winner: Indefinite / Never

The fact that 35 mm color film has lasted this long says that there's something unique in its character. Unfortunately I don't know if that'll be enough to save it. I'm more optimistic about 35 mm b/w which I think will last several decades more.

I'll check back in 10 years to see what's happened with this. 10 years is a very long time in today's photography world. Almost as long as never.


My vote: 4-7
Predicted winner: 4-7
Actual winner: 4-7

Not a well designed poll. I should've unclustered the numbers better at the low end. As the results stand now they don't tell me much beyond the fact that photographers collect cameras like flies on...well, you know.


My vote: Quality of photos
Predicted winner: Quality of editing
Actual winner: Quality of photos

This is such a general question it's almost meaningless but I think that's exactly what makes it interesting. Would you rather see 52 nice images shuffled randomly? Or 52 mediocre images carefully sequenced into more than the sum of their parts? I tend to hate Greatest Hits compilations in any medium. Still, I had to vote for photos over editing. In the end, if you don't have strong photos you don't have much of anything. Most of photography seems headed the other direction, toward increasingly edit-based output.


My vote: The Beatles
Predicted winner: The Beatles
Actual winner: Bach

Matching photographers and musicians has been an ongoing brainstorm for me. They can be matched according to influence, style, longevity, or whatever. With HCB and Bach I think it's all three. Frank and Dylan seem matched as poetic pioneers with a singular place in history. Others:

Eugene Atget: Duke Ellington
Garry Winogrand: Miles Davis
Annie Leibovitz: R.E.M.
Miroslav Tichy: Jandek
Jeff Wall: Radiohead
The Bechers: Can
Stephen Gill: Devendra Banhart
Edward Weston: Igor Stravinsky
Lee Friedlander: Neil Young
Lucas Samaras: Frank Zappa
Ralph Gibson: Ralph Gibson


My vote: Past year
Predicted winner: Past month
Actual winner: Past year

For me hand-held is the secret sauce which keeps shooting serendipitous. Sometimes in low light I put my camera on a car roof or pint glass but I haven't used an actual tripod in years. I think many B readers have a similar outlook but I'd be curious to poll a wider pool of shooters. Generally most fine art photography nowadays is not shot hand-held. A shame.


My vote: Past week
Predicted winner: Past year
Actual winner: Past decade

I've spent time in a darkroom pretty much every week for the past 10 years, part of a quickly shrinking minority. I know there aren't many regular users out there but I thought more people would've ducked into one on occasion. But the situation is grimmer than I'd thought.


My vote: Photolucida
Predicted winner: Photolucida
Actual winner: PhotoNOLA

You know I don't really remember what I was thinking with this one. Maybe someone who voted could tell me? As careful blog readers will note, this poll ran during my period of heavy psychedelics, and I was also watching a lot John Wayne films at the time, so all posts and polls during this period are sort of screwed up. I think I meant to ask about heroes and evil art gods but who knows.


My votes: Robert, Disfarmer, Connor
Predicted winners: Robert, Templeton, Connor
Actual winners: Robert, Templeton, Connor

This poll accompanied my post on photographic doppelgängers. The tough one for me was Disfarmer/Templeton. I like them both but for very different reasons. In the end I went with the classic over the upstart. Props to history.


My vote: Develop, don't return
Predicted winner: Develop, return
Actual winner: Develop, return

I wrote this poll the week after this actual situation happened to me. I bought an old film SLR to replace my broken Nikon. Inside was an exposed roll of color waiting for me like a present under the tree. I couldn't wait to see what was on it, but as it turned out the photos weren't very interesting. I wasn't sure what to do with the film. I wrote to the seller to see if he wanted it but he said the roll was expendable. It was just a test roll he'd used to check the camera operations, so he didn't care what I did with it. Not sure how you check that stuff without seeing the roll but in any case I was curious about protocol. Do you return film or not? And what does the inner photographer want to do?


My vote: Past 6 months
Predicted winner: Past month
Actual winner: More than 3 years ago / Never

This poll was the lucky ticket for me. Shortly after posting I sold a photo to a magazine. But for a while before, I'd had a dry spell. I'd thought for sure others were doing better. It seemed like photos were flying off the gallery walls left and right. But no. Sadly, no. The good news is I still haven't given up my dream of becoming an NFL quarterback. Those guys make bank!


My vote: 35
Predicted winner: 30
Actual winner: 35

A response to the Soth post which appeared a few days before this poll. I'd meant to write an in depth rebuttal but a ballot turned out to be easier. My phrasing is a bit different than Soth's (he asked about "influence") but the general thrust is similar. Does photographic creativity generally wane? I think it does.

It's been interesting to read responses to Soth and to Mike Johnston's essay on this. The vehemence of disavowal is alarming. But wait, people say. I'm 60 and doing the best work of my life. Maybe so. But one counter-example doesn't disprove the trend. It's like saying but wait, today was 90 degrees out so global warming is a hoax. No, actually it isn't. And yes, your creativity has a lifespan. Flowers wilt. Athletes retire. U2 circles the drain. Why would any of us think ourselves exceptional? Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.


My vote: Hedge Fund Manager
Predicted winner: Fine Art Photographer
Actual winner: Hedge Fund Manager

Wake up, hedge fund managers. Your life amounts to nothing. Of course the other occupations listed aren't adding much to society either. At least not until someone founds Photographers Sans Frontiers. As for most useful occupation, I'd go with Poet or Street Bum. Poet as a reminder of everyday beauty. Street bum as a reminder of class stratification.


Anonymous said...

I've always had problems seeing the numbers in the boxes since they are greyed out. I have to highlight the entire table to see them. I'm using Google Chrome on XP but it also happened in IE8. Does anyone else have this problem? Unfortunately I can't read many of the numbers in this posting.

Anonymous said...

Winogrand Book: I think you're right in that the most popular is the most available. I can't afford originals of his.

Non-Hand Held: I guess everything depends on what the definition of Fine Art is but traditionally it has mainly been on a tripod because they usually use larger formats, their subjects are generally static and time taken to set up. And of course the trend is for larger prints now, so you need the sharpness.

Darkroom: Home darkrooms are 99% BW so it make sense that as the use of BW film has decreased so has darkroom use. If your like me, setting up temporary darkroom is a pain, especially for only a few prints, so it's easier to just get them scanned and printed.

Selling prints: Perhaps most of your readers aren't actively trying to sell their work. It's rarely worth the effort and there are easier ways to boost the ego, such as posting online :)

Blake Andrews said...

The numbers are indeed hard to see. I've just assumed that people can infer general results from the size of the blue bars. But if you want specific data, it's tougher. I've thought about writing in the numbers manually, or else showing the graphics highlighted. For the next round of survey analysis I'll try to include numbers.

Marilyn Andrews said...

I'd like to see Cartier-Bresson paired with Erik Satie.

Microcord said...

Lucas Samaras: Frank Zappa

I'm going to have to investigate this Lucas Samaras person.

Phill said...

I'm so glad your discerning readers rated a poet higher in the usefulness ranks than a hedge fund manager.

Warms my heart a tiny bit

Driver8 said...

I misinterpreted the qualities of photos vs. editing question. To me, editing means more the selection of photos from a pool or portfolio rather than their sequencing.

After a first edit of 300 rolls of slide film for one project, I'm down to about 800 individual slides that I like or sort of like. Eventually I want to scan, print, and display 50 of these. I think I can easily edit again down to 400, but after that, the task becomes more difficult. What's a "good" photo? What am I trying to say?

If others started with these 300 rolls of film, they would probably come up with 50 different photos than me.

Blake Andrews said...

I suspect the reason hedge fund managers were voted least useful is that not many of them follow this site, and so they didn't know about the poll. The same logic would explain the Rock Star vote since a large part of B's readership is formed by Rock Stars. Naturally they wouldn't vote for themselves. And at least for a short time this morning waking up, they've proven very useful.

Arcady Genkin said...

Those of us who read your blog via an RSS reader may not even know these polls existed. Would be nice if you posted a short announcement whenever you posted a new poll.

Blake Andrews said...

New polls generally come out every Wednesday.

matty said...

ouch. thanks for not pulling any punches! (re: 11/2/11)