This is a rather long rant ignited by viewing too many “fine art photography” websites in one night. If you are a “fine art photographer” or a “fine art photography” consumer, I highly recommend not reading this.
What is this thing called photo art? Everybody with a digital camera and their brother seem to be doing it. Putting various household items in front of a woman’s vagina. Is that art or soft pornography? What about a man’s dangling installation masked by a banana? Perfect lighting and everything of course. I guess that if you are consistent enough it can be art. If you only take a few shots it really can’t be deigned as art, just an experiment.
So the big secret about art is: persistence. Whatever you do, if you keep pushing at it, picking at it, it is going to end up being art in the end. And if it is also a bit on the soft porn edge (or even on the hard porn edge), success is almost guaranteed. But is it really that simple? Is this what people expect of you? Doing something ad nauseam until they finally give in and say “Yeey! Art!”? Really?
It seems so easy when it comes to photography though. It’s not like with painting, or sculpure or music, where one needs some training plus some aesthetic sense, before even imagining something. In photography it’s all about pointing and shooting. Wam bam thank you ma’am, please remove your pussy from the frame.
Full disclosure: I’m a photographer. I like to think that what I’m doing is art (when I want it to be, not EVERYTHING I do). But I have doubts about that most of the time. Especially when I see what other fellow photographers deem as art. What makes my “art” better than their “art”? It’s all an idea anyway. It’s all in the head of the creator. If you really don’t want to make an art work, will it be one anyway, independently of your initial intention?
That accidental art work looks so much more authentic to me that it really makes me reconsider all these so called fine art photographs. What the fuck is fine art any way. Is anyone looking for non-fine art? Kind-of-fine art? OK art?
And of course, the finest of the fine art photography must be… black and white. Which is worse if actually shot on digital. If it’s on black and white film… well then… you really can’t do anything about it now can you?
As I was saying at the beginning of this post, this whole rant is born out of looking at various websites of “fine art photographers” (really doesn’t matter which, searching Google for the terms will give you a nice random selection), which incidentally were all black and white, with the occasional “now this is different” tinted monochrome.
Now I can afford saying all these not-so-nice things about this kind of photography because I happen to not do it. And now I feel conflicted. I feel that I’m conveying the message that art photography must be accompanied by at least three A4 sheets of text explaining WTF is going on there. I cannot stress enough how much that is not the case. The images should really require no more than a title, or even less. It should be visual, not textual.
Art is instinctual. Too much thinking kills it. Not enough thinking makes is shallow. That’s why doing “art photography” (like any kind of art) is a hard thing to do. And using the good old formula of “oozing sex, black and white, dramatic lighting” just doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s too used. It’s too shallow. People do it without thinking. And if they are thinking it, they are over-thinking it. And most likely they are copying someone else, even if they don’t realize it.
And then everybody calls it “fine art”; now that kind of degrades the term, doesn’t it? So. Where am I going with this? Stop calling it “fine art”. Stop over thinking it. Stop following the freaking rules. I want to see good art, OK art, not-so-fine art. I’m sick of “fine art”. I want to see that sparkle of an idea, maybe it isn’t fully formed, perfectly executed, but it’s there. And it’s something that shows uniqueness.
I like simplicity of concept. And that is something I like to do myself. Stripping a piece of work of all the unnecessary elements that clutter the core of the concept. Not piling on stuff just because it looks good to have as much material as possible. But then I reach a thin line. Which if broken will spill the whole thing in the territory of shallowness. And the fact that the thin line is not clearly marked doesn’t help, yet this is the moment that your instinct should kick in.
How’s your art? Fine?