I have been writing this post over the course of several weeks, as I keep letting this idea smolder in my mind. This part was written from March:
This is brought to you by: the fact that this is mostly just my word vomit. Thank you, vomit.
Viewing photography as an art is something that I've been struggling with recently, brought on by the fact that I realized a couple months ago that I never really considered myself an artist, at least when it came to taking photos. And even more recently, I heard that a photographer who considers that subject their art doesn't say they "take" photos, but rather they make them. And it makes sense. Painters don't take paintings, sculptors don't take sculptures, so photographers don't take photos. I've been trying to say that I make photos in an effort to really see it as an art again.
It's kind of challenging when people say that Art isn't really a "real" major, and it's even harder when people say that photography isn't even a "real" art. Yeah, I've had people tell me that, or that photography is easy, like it's their excuse as to why I'm good, because it's easy and anyone can do that. I mean, a lot of it these days is computer programs. I spend most of my time on photoshop, and probably only one tenth of the time actually taking the picture. But I know that photography doesn't come easy for everyone and there are certainly people who just aren't good at it. I guess the other complex thing about it is that unlike painting or drawing, there's a whole industry around photography. There's commercial, portrait, wedding photographers and while I would consider all of those snapshots, I wouldn't necessarily consider them art.
Perhaps my problem is not in convincing myself that photography is art, but that my creative photography is actually art. But what really constitutes art in the first place? Is it the amount of time spent creating it? Is it the use of the elements and principles? Is it the concept and meaning behind it? While I think these are all true some of the time, I don't think they're true all of the time.
And now we come to today:
In doing an art project for class, I've been researching a lot about the great Ansel Adams, who was the most significant landscape photographer in America. The text above shows my previous feelings towards snapshots, but in since hearing what Ansel had to say about them, I've changed my mind. "The snapshot is not as simple a statement as some may believe. It represents something each of us has seen—more as human beings than as photographers … While to many the snapshot is a symbol of thoughtlessness and chance, it is a flash of recognition—something which for many reasons we wish to perpetuate. It may have real human and historic value. The more we look, the more we see, and the more we see, the more we respond. When we begin visualizing our responses to the world in terms of images, we become photographers in the most rewarding sense of the term."
I'm starting to come to terms with the fact that not every photo has to be some big endeavor in order to be art. Some of my most favorite photos are the ones that are simplistic, yet have something, maybe even one thing, that makes it surreal. My favorite photos are the ones that show the magic in life. I've been pulling a lot of inspiration from my favorite photographer ever, Greg Pths, as well as from Vilde Indrehus, Jack Batchelor, (among others), and artwork that I discover on tumblr. I'm no longer happy with this hyper realistic, expansion, photoshoppy look that a lot of photographers (including myself) have been doing (that's not to say I can't appreciate it, because some of those people are my friends and I admire them deeply), and while a lot of my photography has that style, when looking through my old photos, it does that have spark of what I really want my art to look like.
When I create a beautiful photograph, that makes me incredibly excited and passionate to shoot the next one and then the next one and the next. It's hard to push through when your pictures don't do that for you. I've talked with my photo professor about this too, that the 365 is really exhausting in that you keep having to outdo your previous photo, and when that doesn't happen, you get discouraged and start to feel like you're no good at all. It's a constant battle against yourself to be better and I suppose a lot of my thoughts about this whole photography thing have come from not only battling through myself for three consecutive years now, but also because now I'm no longer doing a project and now I'm just counting the casualties, to keep the metaphor going. Now I can be deliberate with my style and it's freeing and terrifying at the same time.
Basically, I'm deliberately changing my photographic, artistic style. Or, better yet, I am honing in on the glimmers of greatness that have been in my current style for the past three years of me doing photography. Phlearn did an awesome article about changing your photographic style right in the middle of all my struggles, which you should definitely read here. And my friend Sarah also wrote a great post that is similar to this discussion and came at the perfect time as well.
It's scary to change a style, especially when people have become so familiar with my work, and so naturally I'm afraid people won't like the things I will produce in the future. But it all goes back to creating art and me being happy with what I make and being confident that I can call it art. I always always go back to this video, which is so inspiring and exactly how I feel. My work right now isn't up to my ambition. I know there is a spark of something awesome in it, but now I am entering the stage where I am trying to take that spark and light something on fire. The photos in this post are some of the ones from 2010/2011, when I literally just started picking up a camera and feeling really passionate about photography, which I feel have that little spark (and even some stuff from 2012/2013 have that element, but since they are already all on my blog I figured it would just be redundant). I don't know how the next few months will look. I may be taking more photos than ever, or it may be weeks at a time where I don't release anything. We will see. But coming from being afraid that my photography "phase" was over to being really excited to produce new art that I'm proud of, I'm really happy how things are beginning to settle.