Monday, July 02, 2012

Your Photos Suck. Welcome to the World of Noted Photographers

It's likely some of you are aware of the brouhaha going on over photographer Joe Klamar's photos of Olympic athletes. If not, you can take a look HERE or Google for more.

It's not every day a photographer's photos go viral because they, well, they suck... at least in many people's minds.

Or do they? Suck I mean.

Klamar is now being touted as either an atrociously bad photographer, a genius who created purposely flawed images which then created purposely intended buzz, and just about everything in between.

Most photographers prefer to travel the time-honored path of working hard to produce great imagery in hopes of reaping the rewards of becoming a photographer who can produce great imagery. I don't know much about Joe Klamar -- I've never heard of him before these images were released to the public -- but assuming he has, in the past, produced great photographic imagery, it seems it may have done less for him than producing imagery which many people think sucks. Go figure, right?

Terms like "great" and "sucks" are, of course, at opposite ends of the viewer-appreciation spectrum as well as being incredibly subjective, mirroring the concept driving that old, old saying: "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder."

Here's an example: (I'm ashamed to say) I spend a lot of time on Facebook. Too much time. But there, on Facebook, I regularly see lots of photos which I think either suck or are entirely unmemorable but which many other people seem to think are positively awesome given their comments about the pics. (Feel free to replace the word "awesome" with similar words like amazing, fantastic, terrific, etc... especially if you're non-photographer Facebook user.)

In the case of Joe Klamar, I'm not sure what the typical Facebooker's reaction is to his Olympic photos as mentions of his photos have yet to show up from anyone on my news feed. So here's what I'm wondering: Are those who are even marginally a "serous photographer" unimpressed (if not horrified) by Klamar's pics and, conversely, are your average, non-serious-photographer types thinking his images are amazing? (Assuming they're aware of them.)

I really don't know. (I'm not even sure I care)

But here's what (I think) I do know: Generally, the less a person knows about what it might take to produce something like an awesome photo, the more easily they are either impressed (or put off) by it for reasons which only they can explain, and those reasons likely have little to do with photography as a craft.

I guess the bottom line is this: Those of us who produce photos, either for a living or as a serious avocation, simply have to go with what we think works... for us. While others might near universally think that which we produce sucks, there are times when producing sucky work might make you famous... at least for a while. Just ask Joe Klamar.

The crazy model at the top is Sadie. (Click to enlarge.) Sadie was fun working with but I must emphasize the word "crazy" when describing her. Since trying to get Sadie to a level of less-craziness was a nearly insurmountable task, I took the path of least resistance while photographing her and just let her do a bunch of her usual, zany, crazy stuff. I should add that my description of "crazy" when describing Sadie is based on more than her being in front of my camera just one time, although it's true she has only been in front of my camera one time. Ya see, sometimes I do socialize with the people who end up in front of my camera which then might give me better insights into their personalities than the simple act of photographing them might provide. Just saying.


Danimal said...

I took a look at the images in the link. There were two images that are credited to a fellow named Martinez that look very similar to Klamar's "style". A search of Klamar's images shows that he does a lot of editorial/news/live event work, and many of those seem to be on par with others in the photog pool. I can't see how these Olympian shots would make it past the editor unless it was intentional. But then again, who knows?

Rick said...

The photographic critic I think the photos suck. Poor lighting and expressions are why I think they suck.

If he is playing the, "This is my art." card, then as an art critic, I think the photos suck because they lack any editorial context.

Let me tone down my rhetoric a little bit here. They suck.

Sheldon Photography said...

This could have been caused by an art director communicating to the photographer as its what they wanted. It could have been a situation where he/she got clouded judgement from working with a level of celebrity clients. Sad but even one of the backgrounds was ripped. I almost wonder if the photographer paid to have the opportunity to shoot the Olympics hopefuls. Anything is literally possible but in most of these images you cannot see their faces clearly. Most people like to able to connect to an individual who will not be able to smile for the camera at the event.