I made this picture in Hong Kong. China. A couple of years ago. I tinkered with it during all of my down time. Mostly because to not do something photographic for a day drives me crazy. I doesn’t have to be the act of making a picture. It just has to be something photographic. The picture started out as a black and white piece of film. I made a print. I scanned it. I started messing with it until I got to this point, where I felt fulfilled. Photographically fulfilled. Imagine that.
Lately, there has been a big discussion on many of the photo blogs, sites and even on social media about photography as art. Or, photography and art. Or, the future of photography. There was one theory that I read on Petapixel (I think) that photographers hold ourselves back by looking to the past. I rarely take them seriously.
The real question, I suppose, is this. As we move into further into the digital age of the 21st Century what is a photograph?
Is it simply a document of what we saw? Is it an extension of personal vision that is only achievable through mixing and matching technique digitally? Is it something else? The answer is fairly simple. To me.
It depends. That’s the answer. It depends.
If I’m a photojournalist I’d better not be playing around with the original scene beyond various basic corrections. If I’m an artist I suppose I can do anything I want in order to make the picture say what I want it to say.
Of course, that begs a couple of questions.
I’m pretty sure the role and images of a photojournalist are fairly well-defined. But, art? Who or what defines that? One fellow blogger says that he’s a photographer. Pure and simple. It’s up to his audience to decide if his work is art. And, by extension, that he is an artist. I pretty much agree with that.
To a point.
Too many people take pictures of a sunset or a basic scenic without even consideration for light and shadow and call themselves “fine art photographers.” What’s artistic about those two scenarios? Point the camera and take a picture. That’s what I do. I don’t consider myself to be an artist.
Others ask why all this categorization is necessary. It isn’t. But, you brought it up.
Then, there are the others who want to know exactly what I did. A former follower was unhappy because I couldn’t tell her exactly what I did to make a picture look a certain way. I can’t, which is very different from I won’t. Although I have said that to a couple of people via Twitter. Make your own path. I experiment and tinker and plod along until I think I like something. Then I show it.