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Friday, March 6, 2015

When is Photography Considered Fine Art?

As a mentor to aspiring artists, it always depresses me to lose a talented artist to the "photo bug". Now mind you this is coming from a man who devoted many years to his photographic talents and still uses them often. But it seems that the ease of point and shoot cameras and pretty images often lures the talented away from amazing careers as artists. Instead of augmenting their photographic eye to align with their artistic eye, they drop one for the other.

I suspect this blog entry will piss a few people off who have done exactly that. My apologies in advance because this is a question I have struggled long and hard with.

Everyone these days thinks they are a great photographer. And some are. Some have an amazing knack for it. But I am unsure they are reaching their true potential. When I see artists who have a true calling towards being a painter then set it all aside to pick up the camera, I honestly cringe. I want whats best for them of course and what makes them happiest. But sometimes its not done for happiness. Its done for ease. Its far easier than worrying about paints, canvas, technique, etc. Instead just say "ooh pretty", snap and edit.

I am biased I admit. I had too many years of people saying to me "oh wow you must be a good photo shopper" instead of seeing the true art of the image. Its the primary reason I put aside professional photography and plunged headlong into being an artist. I wanted an image that I could truly say was mine and was created from the depths of my soul and the skills of my hands and mind. So I suppose I am the last one to be judging others. But again I wonder if the lure of the camera is just too easy now.

Its kind of like a horrible singer who can turn into a maestro just through the chemistry of a mixing board and a great sound man. Or a writer who is absolutely sure they are the greatest author of all times because they've self published their first poem. Does it make either a singer or a writer?

My partner and I have debated this in length. His writing career was stellar and even in retirement he is still a total success. But he is as soured to the current publishing trends as I am to the current photography trends.

So is photography art? And if it is when does it become so? The same applies to the other creative mediums. What signifies success in any creative venture? I refuse to believe its just about the money. I remember an author back in the 90's who made a mint on the most atrocious fantasy novel of all time because Walmart picked up the rights to the book and put it in all their stores. And no I wont mention names. But simply creating something doesn't make it true art. Sometimes I feel we are selling our souls for the easy way to create.

I am an idealist I admit. Its great when it comes easy to someone, but I think the person is cheating not only their audience but themselves. And that is where I come back to artists dropping the brush to become photographers. Don't cheat yourselves when you have so much potential to be more. Stop and think about it for a time and realize that your selling yourself short if you think you can't do both.

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