Photography, a personal vision.

Kamloops Lake 1

Kamloops Lake

Kamloops Lake 1a

Lawnmower Race copy1

Lawnmower Race copy2

Sax player 1 Sax player 2





My photographer friend Greg posted the following statement on the Canadian photographer “Recently I’ve come across a number of photographs on the social media outlets that are absolutely stunning and amazing works of art, but there are a whole host of people who comment saying ‘it looks fake’, ‘it needs to be more real’, ‘that picture has no resemblance to reality’”. And he continues raising the question with “Should we be striving to produce photographs that are more ‘real’ to please the crowds who seem to have very little understanding of art?”

My quick and easy response is to quote Plato, “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”. Even Shakespeare in his work, Love’s Labours Lost writes, “Beauty is bought by judgment of the eye”.

I understand his (and others) frustration with those that are ready to condemn anything that deviates from their personal interpretation of photography, but we need to remember that is just their opinion. I don’t think Greg or any other photographer should “be striving to produce photographs…to please the crowds”. However, when one displays a photograph on any social media site one needs to be ready for someone else’s opinion.

I used the following last January in my discussion of Photography as a Fine Art. Wikipedia’s on-line encyclopedia says, “Fine art photography is photography created in accordance with the vision of the artist as photographer.” That should be enough to ease my friend’s frustration. I will comment to him that those detractors didn’t understand the interpretation or artistic vision of the photographer’s work.

Some may disagree with me, but I think photography has always been a technology driven medium. And just as there are those willing to push the limits, there surely are also those that employ their cameras simply as devices to document the people, objects, and scenes in front of them, and I have no doubt their criticism might come swiftly to those that manipulate their images instead of maintaining the more conservative course of photographic reality.

Regarding Greg’s question about some people’s understanding, or lack of understanding of art, that is a question that countless generations may have struggled with possibly since the first humans decided to place a favourite rock in their cave or put coloured pigment on the wall.

I believe the question is actually, “What is Art and who has the right to define Art?”

Mark Twain is attributed with the words, “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.”   I expect most of us fall into that category.

Here are a number of quotes about art by artists. American architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright said, “Art is a discovery and development of elementary principles of nature into beautiful forms suitable for human use.” However, I much preferred photographer Ansel Adams words, “Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.” Or this from novelist Rainbow Rowell, “…and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.” And French Impressionist painter Edgar Degas wrote, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”

When one has the need to be creative they should have the right to decide on their own particular style to fulfill their personal creative vision. What that vision is should be entirely up to the photographer, and the audience for whom the image is produced. I think the problem in this day of mass social media is how to select the right audience.

I do look forward to your comments. Thank you, John








This photographer’s thoughts on photography as art.

I didn’t include an image this time because I couldn’t think of what would fit with my philosophical   musing.

Wikipedia, the free, on-line encyclopedia states that, Fine art photography refers to photographs that are created to fulfill the creative vision of the artist. Fine art photography stands in contrast to photojournalism and commercial photography. Photojournalistic photography can be defined as photography that provides visual support for stories, mainly in the print media. Commercial photography’s main focus is to sell a product or service”.

Photography as art has changed over the years since the beginnings of photography in the mid 1800s, and in my opinion, with the dramatic escalation in photography and the making of photographs since digital technology became the mainstay, photography as art interests more and more people.

By the middle of the nineteenth century photographers felt their art should be held in the same exalted status that painters claimed for theirs. Their contention was that it was the photographer, not the camera that made the picture. The goal was, and still may be, to convince not only the art community, but also the community-at-large that photography should be treated as art. Then, as now, the discussion was about whether the different aspects of photography, commercial, photojournalistic, or those created only as personal creative vision should be considered art.

Presently, that art may be nothing more than a screensaver on one’s computer display. Some photographers do go further and it is not unusual to see a personal photograph, or that of a friend’s, framed and hanging on the walls of one’s home.

I have always been interested in art photography and over the years studied the history of when photography started being included as art in major exhibitions as well as what is currently being accepted as art in the medium of photography.  The Wikipedia definition is interesting because it separates what it declares as fine art photography from photojournalism and commercial photography.

The question photographers can ask is, whether their photographs only work as “visual support”, are produced to “sell a product” or as a creative vision?  Do many photographers wander around documenting the world around them and hope to be lucky enough to have final images that fit into one of those categories? I often wonder about that. However, I personally have come to think that definitions as to categories have changed. Maybe it is the way modern viewers see and use photography.  That quickly-snapped portrait of a favorite pet displayed in the owner’s home is cherished enough to be included as art along with the rest of the owner’s sometimes expensive art collection even though some scholars of the arts may disagree.

Remember, even in this technology charged time when making photographs is more popular than I think any other pastime, photographers are still contending with critics that hold that only painting and sculpture are real art.  For me the lines have become blurred, and I see photography as an artistic medium equal to others, although I am not altogether comfortable in categorizing any photographer’s work.  The camera is a tool that helps photographers be creative and photographers only need to decide on their own particular style, and what, as Wikipedia states, is “created to fulfill the creative vision of the artist”.

In my opinion, what that “creative vision” is should be entirely up to the photographer and the audience for whom the image is produced.

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