Posted by Glyn Wade
‘A good picture is always a good picture’
This was a quote from our recent speaker, David Keith Jones, and I remember it struck a chord as to whether that is actually so. Lots of things date badly, music for example; those cheesy pop songs you listened to back in the 80s don’t sound quite so good now; that Max Bygraves record wouldn’t make it onto your turntable ever again and, in 20 years time, imagine the cringes of the current No Direction (sic) and James Bland fans!
And with the cheesy 80s music out goes the clothes you wore at the time….
And then there’s art of course and the question as to whether a good painting will always be a good painting, a good sculpture always a good one or a good piano hanging from the ceiling upside down will forever be a supposed work of art in the Tate Modern in London. I don’t think I’d better get into what is or isn’t actually art or we’ll be here for weeks and the best thing I can suggest it to go into either of the Tate Moderns in London, St Ives or Liverpool and walk round and decide for yourselves.
No, believe it or not, we are actually here to talk about photography and whether a photograph has longevity when initially labelled as being good. As a personal thing I believe that I can do better when I look back at my old pictures….and my new ones I suppose. Now I’m not saying my pictures are good (far from it!), I’m just talking about the ones I like when I first see/process them. When I revisit them I usually wish I’d moved a bit closer, got a bunch of red flowers in shot….waited for a Eurofighter to fly in and fill the empty sky….that sort of thing. There aren’t many I’m happy with further down the line.
On a wider scale there are many famous photographs that really don’t date, let’s be honest, pictures like Afghan Girl, the burning monk and the guy in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square will always be striking and poignant. However, they are more records of events and times rather than the works of art that we take as we shoot landscapes, people, daleks etc. If you search Google for most famous or best photographs of all time you do indeed get lots of ‘news’ photos such as those mentioned above. Have a look at these:
Claire should look at number 28 in particular…..
I won’t go into detail again on the world’s most expensive photographs as whichever dimwit paid so much for the most expensive is probably sick of me taking the Mick by now. I suppose that goes some way to proving maybe that a bad photo will always be a bad photo…..and something is worth whatever some dimwit is prepared to pay for it. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, look here:
Winds me up every time!
I’d better get back to the point of this article or you’ll all be getting angry with me and trying to shoot the dullest photo you can in case there are more dimwits out there with money to burn.
If we look at the work of famous photographers I’m sure their shots may only lose something in image quality as megapixels sky rocket but the actual image remains as good as it ever was. The actual photographer may disagree as I mentioned earlier but, for the observer, we can still marvel at the works of Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Patrick Lichfield et al and probably always will in the same way no-one disputes the quality of paintings by Michelangelo, Da Vinci or Monet for example.
So, have a sift through pictures you took a while ago, find the ones you liked at the time and see what you think now. I can guarantee that every one of them will be better than the world’s most expensive photograph for a start so do find out who bought that and deluge them with YOUR images but probably don’t call them a dimwit when you do it. I started my letter ‘Dear Dimwit’….and didn’t hear anything back so try a different tack. Do you still like your old pictures? Ask someone you trust to rate it and see what they think now; what do they think?
Maybe you’re not as self critical as myself and Rob Hulme and your good picture remains a good picture. David’s pictures last week certainly remain good photos even though some of them were taken back in the 1970s. Cartier-Bresson’s images are certainly worthy of praise despite them being even older (see Behind the Gare St. Lazare for example).
So, to conclude, I believe David was right. What do you think?