Wednesday, July 01, 2009

From Snapshot to Art

Many people who are new to photography quickly get lost in a maze of technical strategies in an effort to become better at photography. The concept of audience and the concept of being unique are intimidating and as a result are avoided. Not everyone wants to take photographs that look like those of Cindy Sherman or Jeff Wall. And no one wants to sacrifice his or her personal identity in the name of art.

Art at it’s best is about putting together one’s personal identity with a clear line of communication. This involves the confidence to feel that one’s identity is worthy of the respect of others. Art is about being technically competent, because this makes the visual concept clearer to more people. This brings in the concept of audience. Few people, maybe no people need an audience of thousands, but most people would enjoy having their audience go a little beyond family and few close friends.

Technical competence helps expand an audience. This can be seen in the work of Ansel Adams and Loretta Lux. Both of these photographs have made photographs that demonstrate an unusually high level of technical competence. Adams photographed breath taking western United States landscapes and Lux makes portraits of children that are placed in idyllic settings with careful editing in Photoshop. Many people new to photography want to make better travel photographs and better photographs of their children.

The objective should be figuring out which are your best travel photographs and which are your best photographs of your children. This becomes risky because for everyone, some of their favorite photographs will look plain to others. This will hurt. Rather than retreat into this hurt, take the ones people like and learn to integrate those qualities into future photographs rather than trying to find art subjects. There are no art subjects. There is only style and style is about showing who you are. Figure out your style and get this into more of your photographs. Audiences, both friends and strangers want to see your world and what makes it unique. No one wants to see how well you can clone the world of some well known art photographer.

© 2009 Paul Light all rights reserved


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