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 flickr.com/group: “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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ides of March

I have never been very positive about March. It is a transition period, or month for that matter, and we are now in the middle, well in “the ides of March”, and I suppose I am not that good waiting for change. I would like to go out and search for some subject that demands to be photographed, but I can’t rouse any creativity as I stand staring out the window at the melting snow.  Charles Dickens in “Great Expectations” aptly described my feeling when he wrote, “It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” This foreboding for March began when as a child I read “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville. I do remember that until my teacher made us delve into the imagery of the novel, line by line, I had just enjoyed it as another adventure story. “Beware of the ides of March,” said the soothsayer, and poor ole Captain Ahab gets himself pinned to a whale and dies in the end. Even at that young age I wondered, why March? Then to my dismay came the same words when I read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and there is was again, he was told to beware of the ides of March. Today I know that the “ides of March” is just a way of saying March 15 in Roman times, but I have been frustrated by March for a long time, and I want it to be over soon because I hate waiting for the unknown.  To make things worse there is, “In like a lion and out like a lamb.” Does it never end, these disturbing warnings of March? I just want to wander around in a photogenic landscape taking pictures. I don’t care if there is lots of snow, or lots of grass; I just want one or the other. Last week I was hired to do a staff photograph by a local organization. Gazing from the office window I saw a large lawn, but as I turned to the woman organizing things she said sadly, “ It looks really nice, but it’ll be too cold for people at ten in the morning, and it’ll be muddy. We’ll have to move things around and use the cafeteria”. I knew that would mean the 22 people, my lighting, and I would be jammed tight in that space, and I’d be spending time after the photo session “PhotoShopping” stuff out. With a snow-covered lawn I’d have made them bundle up, or on a wet spring day they could have worn raincoats, and I would have photographed them under either of those conditions with success. I just shook my head and thought about poor Caesar and poor Ahab. March doesn’t work for me either. I like the topography created by snow and I like trudging through it with my camera and I always find something to photograph. Spring works for me also, I don’t mind rain and mud is just a minor irritant and I like nothing more then photographing fog moving across a rain soaked ridge. Yet March doesn’t give much, it just makes one wait. The host of the British public television program “Making Things Grow,” Thalassa Cruso, once quipped, “March is a month of considerable frustration – it is so near spring, and yet across a great deal of the country the weather is still so violent and changeable that outdoor activity in our yards seems light years away.”
 And prolific writer Ogden Nash said “Indoors or out, no one relaxes in March, that month of wind and taxes, the wind will presently disappear, the taxes last us all the year.” March, in my opinion, is not a month that photographers embrace. Well, maybe a foray or two to photograph some hungry coyote, or deer, wandering the countryside, and some birds that hung about through the winter are seen looking for any morsels they can find, but even for those subjects one has to hunt in an uninspiring landscape. I suppose we could put our heads down and get up earlier because of the time change (one more problem with this month), in anticipation of a better season and friendlier months, and just march onward, awaiting a time to do photography again.

www.enmanscamera.com.