What is Art?
I want to talk about art.
Mind you, I don’t claim to be an expert. I’ve done some reading and talked to a lot of people about art and there are a lot of ideas out there on what art really is.
Some say art is a work that is displayed in a gallery or performed on a stage. I can see that (pun not intended; well, actually it was) although I’m not there – yet.
Others say that art is a work commissioned by a patron. Alas, not there yet either.
Still others say a work is art if the artist says its art. That’s fine as long as the artist can get others to agree.
But none of these definitions help me to grow as an artist. They don’t provide any indication of a path I can take to become an artist (other than perhaps bribing someone to hang one of my photographs in a gallery, at least for a day or two).
I’m looking for a definition of art that will provide some guidance in my quest to become an artist – to grow as an artist.
Continue reading “Thoughts on Art – What Is It?” »
Tags: art, communication, interpretation, photography
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“Did you manipulate your photograph?” “Did you use a filter?” “Do you use a Mac?” “Do you crop your images?” “I’ll have a nicer day than you; I’m not shooting a Canon.” Yes, someone actually said that to me at Bridal Vale Falls in the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon in response to my cheery, “Have a nice day.” I guess when you take the entire population of photographers you will always find those that are prejudiced and closed minded just like any other population. They think they are right and anyone that disagrees with them is wrong. It’s that simple.
The current issue of Lenswork magazine, the premier journal for black and white photography, has an article by guest contributor Jim Kasson titled “Previsualization in the Digital Age.” I couldn’t wait to read it. In my workshops and lectures I’ve always advocated that an artist interprets reality and communicates that interpretation through her or his art. In landscape photography I’ve encouraged our workshop attendees to leave their camera gear in the car until they connect with a location and only then set up their cameras to try to capture what is is they are experiencing. Previsualization, the anticipation of what the finished work will look like, is a big part of communicating what you are feeling.
Continue reading “Taking Your Photography to the Next Level” »
Tags: Ansel Adams, anticipation, artists, California, Canon, Carmel, communication, constraining, crazy, creative vocabulary, Darkroom, decisive moment, delightful, experience, Filter, grow, Half Dome, Henry Cartier-Bresson, impressionistic, inspirational, interpretation, Jim Kasson, journey, lecture, Lenswork, Lightroom, Mac, moving, Nikon, open minded, PC, personal style, photogrpahy, PhotoShop, playfulness, possibilities, previsualization, reality, self-discovery, skills, spontaniety, stifling, unpredictability, view camera, William Neill, workshop, Yosemite, Zone System
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Every time I do a show I get asked multiple times if my photographs are manipulated. My answer is always, ‘Yes, of course.’ The hidden expectation is that photographs are supposed to be accurate depictions of the scene that is photographed. This expectation is not new. And any photographer that seeks to make art rather than documentation must face this question.
Take Ansel Adams for instance….
The above iconic Ansel Adams photograph is titled Winter Sunrise. It is of Mt Whitney and Lone Pine Peak above the Alabama Hills with Adams’ characteristic dramatic lighting.
There’s an interesting excerpt regarding this photograph from his book, “Examples, The Making of 40 Photographs.”
“The enterprising youth of the Lone Pine High School had climbed the rocky slopes of the Alabama Hills and whitewashed a huge white L P for the world to see. It is a hideous and insulting scar on one of the great vista of our land, and shows in every photograph made of the area. I ruthlessly removed what I could of the L P from the negative (in the left-hand hill), and have always spotted out any remaining trace in the print. I have been criticized by some for doing this, but I am not enough of a purist to perpetuate the scar and thereby destroy – for me, at least – the extraordinary beauty and perfection of this scene.”
It seems the debate raged in Adams’ day and continues today. I guess you know where I stand. Oh, and for those ‘purists’ that revere Adams, if they only knew.
Go ahead. Express yourself in your photographs.
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Tags: Alabama Hills, Ansel Adams, art, communication, Eastern Sierra, fine art, interpretation, landscape photography, Lone Pine, Lone Pine Peak, master, Mt Whitney, photo workshops, photography workshop, photogrpahy
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In the previous post in this series I presented the idea that calendar art is a worthy first goal for serious photographers. (Read Taking Your Photography to the Next Level.) And aside from the fact that the subject matter of calendar art may be fairly run of the mill, the technical and aesthetic qualities are generally excellent.
In that post I ended with this thought:
Calendar art is about the subject of the photograph. The photographer is transparent. In fine art photography the influence of the artist becomes more apparent.
Continue reading “Taking Your Photography to the Next Level – Fine Art” »
Tags: art, artist, communication, creative vocabulary, fine art, interpretation, personal style, photography, Workshops
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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the role of the photographer as artist. I don’t think there’s doubt in anyone’s mind that photography can be a sublime art form.
But not all photography is art and not all photographers are artists. Just about everyone has a camera these days. In fact it seems you can’t buy a cell phone without one. Virtually everyone is taking pictures but not very many photographers are trying to produce art.
Continue reading “The Photographer as Artist – Introduction” »
Tags: aesthetics, artist, communication, creativity, fine art, photographer, photography, skill, talent
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