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Friday, April 25, 2008

Sometimes I create art - but mostly I just take snapshots

Over the years I run into many people with different ideas on “Art”. Most understand that, like any subject, there is room for debate and disagreement. But, all too often I find that people can’t distinguish between skill and creativity. Folks who lived before the 1850s considered art as a way to document what was around them. Today, I’d agree with Sculptor Henry Moore who said, “Art is the expression of imagination, not the duplication of reality."



As an amateur photographer, who leans toward finding new ways of seeing reality (I also just like to record what I see), I bump into photographer friends who think they create art because they have a spiffy camera and a few lens and know how to read a light meter. What rubs them raw is when I tell them they just take snap shots. That is all they do. Yes, they read the meter and may have a little skill with a few filters, but they never try to go beyond recording the object they are taking a picture of. They never attempt to manipulate the environment of their subject. They never stage a shot. They never create what is in their head. They attempt to make the scene look like what they see with their eyes. This is OK and requires a good deal of skill, since the camera and medium (film or digital) do not record light the way our eyes do. But it is not Art. There is no imagination to it, no creativity. They never think of a picture they want to make then precede to make it. They see something – sometimes interesting - and record it. An artist can make a great picture from cheap, even defective, cameras because they understand visualization, composition and lighting. They have a command of light and color. They can do it with a brush, knife, paper mache or a camera.



There is nothing wrong with making pictures. Recording events – historical or personal – is an important application that photography is good for. Doing it well and mastering the demands of the subject are worth while goals. Technical mastery helps the creative process, but it doesn’t make the process creative.



Have a look see here.

One Exposure

Clinton Smith

Chema Mandoz

David Chapelle

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