On Tradition and Imitation
Guy Tal Photography Journal
by Guy Tal
2w ago
Those who feel guilty contemplating “betraying” the tradition they love by acknowledging their disapproval of elements within it should reflect on the fact that the very tradition to which they are so loyal . . . is in fact the evolved product of many adjustments firmly but delicately made by earlier lovers of the same tradition. —Daniel Dennett It’s too easy, for one who has “grown up” in some artistic (or other) tradition to assume that there’s a settled “right way” to do things: that the evolution of styles, ethics, aesthetics, and the boundaries of acceptability in a given medium have co ..read more
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My Interview with Richard Bernabe
Guy Tal Photography Journal
by Guy Tal
1M ago
Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing with my friend and photographer extraordinaire, Richard Bernabe, for his excellent podcast, Beyond the Lens. Richard and I have known each other a long time, but this was the first time we sat down to record a deep conversation about our approaches to photography. I enjoyed it very much and I’m very grateful to Richard for inviting me. I hope you enjoy it, and please be sure to check out some of the previous episodes, too, featuring notable photographers and thinkers ..read more
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On Aesthetic Experiences
Guy Tal Photography Journal
by Guy Tal
1M ago
Note: My upcoming book, Be Extraordinary, is now available to pre-order! Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language. —Aldo Leopold Art and nature have this in common: they affect some people more profoundly than others. Upon encountering the same objects or events, some people may experience such elevated states as awe, reverence, flow, creative inspiration. Other people in the same circumstances, if they are not entirely oblivious to them, may respond to such enco ..read more
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Something Is Different Today
Guy Tal Photography Journal
by Guy Tal
3M ago
Some of you likely noticed I failed to publish my regular monthly post in March. Between concentrated work to finish the manuscript of my upcoming book and certain unforeseen personal challenges, I found myself with a bad case of writer’s block. As (dubious?) compensation, I give you today more than twice my usual article word count. Alas, as some of the causes of my block remain unresolved and as my next projects are still taking shape, I decided to reach for my usual block-breaking technique: switch from essay form to stream-of-consciousness form. I hope you find my belabored train (wreck ..read more
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On Prisoners and Dilemmas
Guy Tal Photography Journal
by Guy Tal
5M ago
It’s always easier not to think for oneself. Find a nice safe hierarchy and settle in. Don’t make changes, don’t risk disapproval, don’t upset your syndics. It’s always easiest to let yourself be governed. There’s a point, around age twenty, when you have to choose whether to be like everybody else the rest of your life, or to make a virtue of your peculiarities. Those who build walls are their own prisoners. —Ursula K. Le Guin The Prisoner’s Dilemma is a famous thought experiment in the field of game theory. It involves two suspects being interrogated separately, each having to decide wheth ..read more
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Beware the Critic Mindset
Guy Tal Photography Journal
by Guy Tal
6M ago
The article below is a partial excerpt from an article with the same title in the (still mostly unedited) manuscript of my upcoming book, Be Extraordinary: Philosophical Advice for Photographic (and Other) Artists, now available for pre-order. What usually destroys the experience of a photograph is to start criticizing it. —Minor White Critics have always been people less susceptible than other men to the contagion of art. For the most part they are able writers, educated and clever, but with their capacity of being infected by art quite perverted or atrophied. And therefore their writings ha ..read more
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Become an Artist
Guy Tal Photography Journal
by Guy Tal
6M ago
Happy New Year! The paragraphs below are extracted from a short essay titled, “Become an Artist,”  featured in the manuscript of my upcoming book, Be Extraordinary: Philosophical Advice for Photographic (and Other) Artists. If you wish to hear me read more excerpts from the book, discuss some of the philosophies behind it, and/or ask me some philosophical questions, please join me for a virtual presentation and discussion this coming Wednesday, January 3rd. The thing of course, is to make yourself alive. Most people remain all of their lives in a stupor. The point of being an artist is t ..read more
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Upcoming Public Talks
Guy Tal Photography Journal
by Guy Tal
7M ago
Please consider joining me for one or both of these upcoming virtual presentations: January 3rd: Be Extraordinary Kicking off the new year, I will rejoin Nic Stover’s Nature Photography Classes Speaker Series to review themes from my upcoming book, Be Extraordinary: Philosophical Advice for Photographic (and Other) Artists. I will explain some of the ideas covered in the book, such as philosophical thinking about art and life, personal expression, authenticity, finding meaning in creative work, and others. I will also read a few passages from the current manuscript and answer audience (philoso ..read more
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Difficult and Worthwhile
Guy Tal Photography Journal
by Guy Tal
8M ago
But perhaps the great work of art has less importance in itself than in the ordeal it demands of a man and the opportunity it provides him of overcoming his phantoms and approaching a little closer to his naked reality. —Albert Camus Note: This article contains passages borrowed from various sections of the manuscript-in-progress for my next book, Be Extraordinary: Philosophical Advice for Photographic (and Other) Artists. For those who are interested, in the coming weeks I will announce an upcoming online presentation touching on these and other themes from the book, followed by a live Q&am ..read more
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Choose Your Influencers Well
Guy Tal Photography Journal
by Guy Tal
9M ago
Whether it be a painting or photograph, the picture is a symbol that brings one immediately into close touch with reality. . . . In fact, it is often more effective than the reality would have been, because, in the picture, the non-essential and conflicting interests have been eliminated. —Lewis Hine Ask most photographers about their historical influences and you will likely hear the name Ansel Adams more than any other. In a recent exchange, I asked a photographer who mentioned (only) Adams as his inspiration what he thought about the works of Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston. He respond ..read more
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