Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The "Art" Question Again

Fellow photo blogger Guy Tal posted a defense of photography as art to his blog yesterday. Guy is a first rate photographer and, in my opinion, an artist. For what it's worth I call myself an Artist/Craftsman/Photographer on my business cards because I think that what I do encompasses all of those, sometimes all at the same time. Like everyone who takes photos some of my images are just photos, images made to record an event, take note of something I want to remember visually. If I mean to share it with others I will apply my skills to make it really good, to 'craft' it well and then it is both craft and photograph. Others, like the one above are the result of a particular visualization of the subject which involve a specific intent in the camera and/or in what we have come to call "post production", the digital version of the darkroom.

The image above was made with a 'simplification' treatment in mind. It was shot on one of the walks I do for exercise. I wanted to emphasize the pattern of the fence and the vines but I knew that in the straight photo that would largely be lost amidst the detail of every blade of grass in focus. It was shot with a Canon G10, easy to carry on such outings but like all pocket sized digital cameras it has great depth of field even at fairly wide apertures. So I used a polygonal simplification filter to reduce the detail to the level I wanted. I did also apply some blurring to the grass beyond the fence prior to the simplifying filter.

I don't feel that applying such obvious filtration to an image is necessary to make it "Art". I consider the photo I posted on Tuesday to be art as well. Despite its straightforward appearance I did take care in composing it to include precisely the elements I wanted to communicate and I did apply post production work to it to emphasize the details I wanted the viewer to see. But the details of what I did aren't what makes it art. They are just the tools of art. What makes art is using those tools in the same way that the poet uses just the right words arranged in just the right way.

Check out Guy's blog and look at his photos while you are there <>


  1. Anonymous12:21 AM

    I absolutely love this photo and what you have done with it. Thanks for explaining the steps you took to achieve this look. Really beautiful!

  2. Thanks designhouse9,

    It always pleases me to hear that others enjoy what I produce.

    As always, prints are available (shameless commercial pitch). A 9" wide print is $35, 18 inches wide is $80 and 32 inches wide is $150. All sizes are printed on archival materials. Shipping and sales tax (if you live in NY) are extra.