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CHALLENGE: What does this image mean?

Joe Hardesty

New member
The Rest of the Story...

The Rest of the Story

This image was taken in 1998. The image presented here is pretty much right straight out of the camera. Perhaps because of the time day and an incorrect white balance, the color cast was there from the beginning. I attempted to correct it, but nothing seemed to improve it.

I loved the image and it was always on my A list, but showing to others always received an overwhelmingly negative reaction. This seemed quite unusual at the time because I had never had a photo that people opening disliked. My experience was that people, probably out of courtesy, will only comment on the images they like, but in this case, they felt compelled to make comments like "I'm not comfortable with it", "the color is wrong", or "I don't care for it". In fact, not a single person, other than myself, ever liked it. Nonetheless, I couldn't/wouldn't remove it from my A list. I knew full well that it was not a technically good image, and yet it was the way it was supposed to be.

In 2000, I submitted it to a stock agency along with other photos with the full expectation it would be rejected. It was accepted, but predictably never sold.

In late 2002, I got an email from the agency wanting to know if I would accept a direct inquiry from a prospective buyer of my image "Reflections". I was surprised for two reasons; it was that image, and this was the first time a prospective buyer had asked and been granted permission to discuss an image directly prior to sale.

The inquiry was straightforward. The editors of an Australian magazine wanted to use the image for the cover of their next issue, but needed a higher resolution image that was cropped to their specs. Accommodating their request was not a problem, but it gave me the unusual opportunity to ask why they chose this particular image.

The editor replied that the feature story of the issue was "manic-depression" and they felt the image was a perfect visual representation of that condition.

But wait, there is more…

Guess who has a long history of manic-depression? That's right, yours truly! And going back through my files, I could easily pinpoint that this image was taken during a very low (depressed) period. I had just finished writing a book that was being rejected by every publisher on the planet, and I had no ideas for my next project.

There is a line in the Desiderata that says:

And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Suddenly, it all became clear. Of course, any "normal" person would reject this image. Who wants an image that seemingly portrays depression?

And yet, there is another lesson:

If you have complete confidence in an image, even when everyone else says it is crap, there may still be an audience or a market.

And finally…

Before someone posts; poor Joe, it must be terrible living with manic-depression. I can assure you that it is in fact an asset for creativity. While most people see the world with one set of eyes, I see the world through multiple filters depending on where I am in the up-down cycle. For many years, I sought treatment for my M-D. I have since learned to embrace it and simply enjoy the ride.

Thanks for reading!

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I also once had an image that most of the people found disturbing, I liked it and presented it anytime I could, until someone pointed that apart from the subject that was what it was, the image has nothing to be proud of, technically and artistically speaking. I think of it deeply, I made one or two enlargements with other settings and I felt exactly the same: useless. I loved it because I knew it would disturb (a bit) people. Now, I don't show it anymore, and it's all right, I can cope with that.
That have nothing to do with your image, I make no assumption that it is failed technically or artistically, but yes, sometimes something you really love, you love it for the wrong reasons or because you feel more comfortable not challenging yourself in your tastes...Just my experience...
eh! that's why the C&C is for after all :)


PS, Edit: I just remember now that I made a small report in OPF, on an exhibition I saw last year on Camille Silvy's work, who also suffered from manic depression.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camille_Silvy

Hopefully the life he endured after his retirement has nothing to do with what you should expect, there's always something to hope about!
 

John Angulat

pro member
Hi Joe,
Although originally a doubter, I found the story well worth the wait.
Moreover, I admire your honesty and candor.
Wishing you many "up" cycles!
 

Ken Tanaka

pro member
Ah, there we have it! Joe's "meaning" for the image is formed through a gauze of depression which certainly makes sense. The visual and color distortions might seem familiar and almost friendly to eyes weighed down by the clouds of such an illness.

And as Joe alluded, there have been many artists in the 20th century who suffered from bouts of depression but claimed the ailment to be an asset to creativity. We are left to take their word for the claim and to simply enjoy, or reject, their works.

@ Sandrine: I envy you for having seen last year's Camille Silvy show at the National Portrait Gallery (?). It's unfortunate that it did not travel. But the good news here is that we (Art Institute of Chicago) are currently purchasing a wonderful Silvy piece. They're extremely rare to find on offer and breathtakingly expensive. But it's going to be a wonderful addition to our collection of 19th century work.
 

Alain Briot

pro member
Quite literally, we now have been informed of Joe's psychological projections in regards to his image. Personally, I never felt the image was about depression or mental illness and neither have I felt depressed or mentally ill while looking at it. But then I am fundamentally optimistic, sane of body and mind, and rarely prone to depression. Therefore, my own psychological projections were at work as well.

I can't help but think that all this is more about Joe opening up about his personal illness than about this specific photograph. The image is a vector, a messenger, a courier pigeon, a vehicle used to present a very real and important aspect of Joe's life. In that sense it works wonders. I am not sure how I can be of help however. But then maybe this was never the goal?
 
Sandrine: I envy you for having seen last year's Camille Silvy show at the National Portrait Gallery (?). It's unfortunate that it did not travel. But the good news here is that we (Art Institute of Chicago) are currently purchasing a wonderful Silvy piece. They're extremely rare to find on offer and breathtakingly expensive. But it's going to be a wonderful addition to our collection of 19th century work.

Although being partly "paid" by the French cultural institutions, The French (for those who are concerned) will not be able to see it neither. The French were not able to find a place to display it properly (as they say), it's a shame. But let's say that England protected once Camille Silvy, so it makes sense that England protects him and his work, once again.
 

Joseph Westrupp

New member
The Rest of the Story

This image was taken in 1998. The image presented here is pretty much right straight out of the camera. Perhaps because of the time day and an incorrect white balance, the color cast was there from the beginning. I attempted to correct it, but nothing seemed to improve it.

I loved the image and it was always on my A list, but showing to others always received an overwhelmingly negative reaction. This seemed quite unusual at the time because I had never had a photo that people opening disliked. My experience was that people, probably out of courtesy, will only comment on the images they like, but in this case, they felt compelled to make comments like "I'm not comfortable with it", "the color is wrong", or "I don't care for it". In fact, not a single person, other than myself, ever liked it. Nonetheless, I couldn't/wouldn't remove it from my A list. I knew full well that it was not a technically good image, and yet it was the way it was supposed to be.

In 2000, I submitted it to a stock agency along with other photos with the full expectation it would be rejected. It was accepted, but predictably never sold.

In late 2002, I got an email from the agency wanting to know if I would accept a direct inquiry from a prospective buyer of my image "Reflections". I was surprised for two reasons; it was that image, and this was the first time a prospective buyer had asked and been granted permission to discuss an image directly prior to sale.

The inquiry was straightforward. The editors of an Australian magazine wanted to use the image for the cover of their next issue, but needed a higher resolution image that was cropped to their specs. Accommodating their request was not a problem, but it gave me the unusual opportunity to ask why they chose this particular image.

The editor replied that the feature story of the issue was "manic-depression" and they felt the image was a perfect visual representation of that condition.

But wait, there is more…

Guess who has a long history of manic-depression? That's right, yours truly! And going back through my files, I could easily pinpoint that this image was taken during a very low (depressed) period. I had just finished writing a book that was being rejected by every publisher on the planet, and I had no ideas for my next project.

There is a line in the Desiderata that says:



Suddenly, it all became clear. Of course, any "normal" person would reject this image. Who wants an image that seemingly portrays depression?

And yet, there is another lesson:

If you have complete confidence in an image, even when everyone else says it is crap, there may still be an audience or a market.

And finally…

Before someone posts; poor Joe, it must be terrible living with manic-depression. I can assure you that it is in fact an asset for creativity. While most people see the world with one set of eyes, I see the world through multiple filters depending on where I am in the up-down cycle. For many years, I sought treatment for my M-D. I have since learned to embrace it and simply enjoy the ride.

Thanks for reading!
Whoa, you beat me to it; I was just about to say all that.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
The Rest of the Story

This image was taken in 1998. The image presented here is pretty much right straight out of the camera. Perhaps because of the time day and an incorrect white balance, the color cast was there from the beginning. I attempted to correct it, but nothing seemed to improve it.

I loved the image and it was always on my A list, but showing to others always received an overwhelmingly negative reaction. This seemed quite unusual at the time because I had never had a photo that people opening disliked. My experience was that people, probably out of courtesy, will only comment on the images they like, but in this case, they felt compelled to make comments like "I'm not comfortable with it", "the color is wrong", or "I don't care for it". In fact, not a single person, other than myself, ever liked it. Nonetheless, I couldn't/wouldn't remove it from my A list. I knew full well that it was not a technically good image, and yet it was the way it was supposed to be.

In 2000, I submitted it to a stock agency along with other photos with the full expectation it would be rejected. It was accepted, but predictably never sold.

In late 2002, I got an email from the agency wanting to know if I would accept a direct inquiry from a prospective buyer of my image "Reflections". I was surprised for two reasons; it was that image, and this was the first time a prospective buyer had asked and been granted permission to discuss an image directly prior to sale.

The inquiry was straightforward. The editors of an Australian magazine wanted to use the image for the cover of their next issue, but needed a higher resolution image that was cropped to their specs. Accommodating their request was not a problem, but it gave me the unusual opportunity to ask why they chose this particular image.

The editor replied that the feature story of the issue was "manic-depression" and they felt the image was a perfect visual representation of that condition.

But wait, there is more…

Guess who has a long history of manic-depression? That's right, yours truly! And going back through my files, I could easily pinpoint that this image was taken during a very low (depressed) period. I had just finished writing a book that was being rejected by every publisher on the planet, and I had no ideas for my next project.

There is a line in the Desiderata that says:



Suddenly, it all became clear. Of course, any "normal" person would reject this image. Who wants an image that seemingly portrays depression?

And yet, there is another lesson:

If you have complete confidence in an image, even when everyone else says it is crap, there may still be an audience or a market.

And finally…

Before someone posts; poor Joe, it must be terrible living with manic-depression. I can assure you that it is in fact an asset for creativity. While most people see the world with one set of eyes, I see the world through multiple filters depending on where I am in the up-down cycle. For many years, I sought treatment for my M-D. I have since learned to embrace it and simply enjoy the ride.

Thanks for reading!

attachment.php

I would have picked this out for my own interest. I like that it is not representative of a recognizable object, at least not to me and not right now!

Being abstract, it allows one to bring ones own marbles to the game!

Asher
 
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