What does it mean to you? By Mark Ivkovic

What does it mean, to you?

By Mark Ivkovic – See his blog HERE

I’ve taken this quote word for word from a man who has photography to thank for a lot in his life and as such he’s pretty much dedicated it in return.

“As photographers we are all so desperate to make work that people will notice. Work that will matter deeply to someone other than ourselves. What I think we fail to realize sometimes is that this is one of the easiest things to do. Think of that snapshot you have of your mom or dad as a child. How much does it mean to you? Unless you make it to the Met or MOMA the work you make that will end up being priceless is the photos of the people you love. Get out there and document the love in your life.”

It’s not about the “likes” and “favs”, it’s not about pleasing your virtual (or actual) audience by giving them what they want. To me it’s about imparting self-worth into your work, create something you actually care about.

What follows are by no means works of art, they’re technically flawed, some are out of focus, others oddly composed. To me and I hope my family they’ll be memories of one sunday we had. I didn’t create them to change the world, I did it to remember.

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30 Comments

  1. True words, Mark. Let us shoot what we think is right, and for ourselves and those we love. That is also why I have started making prints again. I do not think that my family or others have any great interest looking through my images in Lightroom or any other software. Going through prints, however, is quite another story, and one that brings joy to us all, regardless of quality (and camera brand…)

  2. So true. I was going through my photo catalog last night and the ones that stopped me in my tracks are of subjects that would be meaningful regardless of the quality of the photograph. It’s a lesson on life, forget what you were passionate about in the first place and life will become something less than life. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. Agree w/others that this is well put. For many years, I was working to try and please clients, editors, etc. Now that is all over for me. With having to leave the newspaper industry due to lack of work like many others, I am trying to find purpose in my efforts in photography. I am not a portrait/wedding shooter. When I had a fulltime newspaper staff job, I let the editorial and private event shooting market get away from me. So, now, it is just for me. After reading “Photosynthesis” by Bryan Moss for about the hundreth time, I want my images to mean something to the people that Mark refers to here – people that I love. Thanks, Mark, for helping bring some focus to my current photographic efforts!!

  4. Since this website comes across as a celebration of photography and photographic equipment, it seems like the right place for this contribution, and other kinds. Have a nice day!

  5. Agree that memories are one of the most important aspects of photography, well at least for me. Every year I put together a photo book of photos I’ve taken over the previous 12 months. Then hopefully at least something may be preserved for later generations.
    Of course it’s still fun to take photos of anything that passes by your lens!!

  6. Your post has truth but there’s also the pride from getting the Flickr FAVs for the creative shot that has no personal connection or sentimentality to it. Photography is such a wide arena, there’s room for it all.

    • I personally don’t care rats ass about Flickr FAV’s or any kind of internet appraisal. That does not pay the bills either. Your picture should be important to you only, in that case Mark did a lot better then all those who seak endless Flickr or Facebook appraisal for a picture of an orchid. Mark shot some highly original pictures of his kids….he made the effort to see them his way, that is what photography is all about. And what is the subject is totally irrelevant as long as you see it your way.

      Bill Eggleston took a picture of a childrens trike and gave it emotion just by seeing it his way. Bernd Becher shoots a coal mine tipple with a 8×10 removing all emotion from it, reducing it to the state of an object, also his way of seeing, and just as vailuable.

      Greets, Ed.

      • Well, maybe since I don’t have kids or a large family, and can’t afford to travel, my photographic subjects tends to be “street” and the interesting scenes I find around me, rather than subjects with emotional ties. Perhaps, because I’m so new to photography as a hobby I long for positive reinforcement that the images I take and like are deemed worthwhile and enjoyed by others, too. I also seek constructive criticism from other photogs.

        Feel free to take a look at my novice work, I’d appreciate your feedback since I’m far from having anything accepted for a Daily Inspiration post here.

        http://www.flickr.com/photos/finch585/

        Best,
        Jeffrey

      • Mmm. I can never understand that Eggleston shot. It’s described as “Art” because it was exhibited at MoMA in New York. By definition, I s’pose, what’s exhibited in a museum of Modern Art is thereby “Art”. Now, was Eggleston really showing something great – or was he just well-connected? If a curator takes you up, then what you’ve made becomes Art.

        I like that “arm” picture at the top of the page, too ..but if that were put on show in MoMA, or any other gallery, it would then – by its very being there – be transmogrified into, or be called, “Art” even though it’s still just the same family snapshot which it was beforehand.

        I do like Andy Warhol’s soup tins, and Roy Lichtenstein’s “WHAAM!” ..and it took me a while to understand in what way they’re “Art” ..I suppose it’s a matter of these images being “taken up” by others than exhibition curators, and then the process of the general public THINKING about them ..and perhaps it’s the very process of THINKING which assigns them the name “Art” rather than something necessarily intrinsic to the image itself (or to sculpture, or to film, or a poem, or whatever).

        So these may be snapshots, and understandably prized by the photographer, just like I enjoy my own photos ..but then, when they’re put on display for others to think about them, perhaps they become transmuted into something else.

        Otherwise, I really can’t understand what’s so special about Eggleston’s pics.

  7. I know I am going to take flack for this but… while the sentiment is very sweet, the best shot from an artistic point of view is the ‘anonymous’ arm. Think about what that means in the context of this piece.
    The rest are ‘just’ snapshots of his family.

    You can interpret these snaps the same way as anyone’s family snaps. The only difference here is that they have been published on Steve’s site.

    Don’t get me wrong, I highly encourage everyone to take photos of their loved ones. We all take photos like that where we are just documenting our private lives, with no concern with making a statement with each photograph.
    A cynic would suggest the lesson here is stop trying to take noteworthy photographs, just send in your family snaps. By the very nature of the act, everyone’s family snaps has meaning to them. I’m not sure what makes these special, apart from some of the images having the heads cut off. Was that intentional -and thereby an attempt at artistic license which negates the point of this article – or – just a poorly composed photo?
    Imagine looking at these photos 30 years from now and wondering who that person in the image is. Memories of your loved ones are not made of chopped off heads.

  8. You see, this is what’s confusing to me. These are all personal images. It’s not for me to comment on them, on whether they are technically perfect, or not. What is the point, and who should care? This is the problem today, with the internet. In the past, everyone took family pictures. Heck, I’m still printing from negatives my father gave me. That’s what much of photography has ALWAYS been about. It’s nothing new. Unfortunately, because of the internet, what used to sit in albums, in attics, for family gatherings, as heirlooms, etc, now gets paraded incessantly. The very fact that your pictures are here, attests to this fact. These are your own personal pictures, your personal memories, to share with close family and friends. No one except you, should care about technicalities, but, from the moment you parade them on the net, you will get people, perfect strangers, making comments (good and bad). Why is there a need for that? Acceptance? Attention? Exactly, it is not about the likes and favs because personal, family pictures, should largely remain that way, and not analyzed as art or to find the meaning of self worth. You are recording memories, of your children, your wife, your life. There is nothing else to it. It is YOUR OWN art.

    • Max,

      The term is vernacular photography….just taking pictures for the most important reason a camera was invented. To remember. I restore photographs for a living and people come to me with completely wasted photo’s….no great art, just mam and the kids shot with a Olympus Trip back in the 60th and 70th. Now the basic picture isn’t even that sharp. Nor well lit. But it is something they sherish, that they carried around in there wallets. Until it is all torn, worn, and faded. And then they spend up to 200 euro, just to have it restored by me. That is what those pictures are worth to them. And I take great pride in the fact that I can help them out (I don’t even count all hours if needed). Money aside….a thank you mail is worth much more then money can expres anyway.

      Therefore be aware of the fact that you PRINT and store the shots dear to you. Hard drives are vulnarable PRINTS are too, but pictures stored on a medium or a format that can’t be read in the future are lost forever. That seems like a “no problem”, well I once sold an Adaptec SCSI controller with some strange firmware on it to a data recovery company.

      Greets, Ed.

  9. While Steve’s site has increased in the quantity of posts over the last 12 months. The trade off has been in the quality of he posts.

    This post is fantastic. The most meaningful post that I’ve viewed here for a long long time.

    • Really like the 4th photo. Paul, if you’ve not already seen his work, Googling William Klein and having a look at his street photography will give you an idea of what is possible with out of focus and non classical compositions.

  10. Very well put. While I love getting the occasional Wow photo, and may go out of the way to try to capture something cool, for the most part my photography is for preserving memories.

  11. Great post. I couldn’t agree with your perspective any more! Sometimes we lose touch with what made us pick up a camera in the first place…..

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