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Business / Philosophy of Photography Taking pics is one thing, but understanding why we take them, what they mean, what they are best used for, how they effect our reality -- all of these and more are important issues of the Philosophy of Photography. One of the best authors on the subject is Susan Sontag in her book "On Photography."

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Are you an artist?
Old 03-25-2009   #1
dave lackey
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Are you an artist?

Do you consider yourself an artist? I know a number of people here do...not just a "photographer".

How do you define the term "artist" within the photographic context?
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Old 03-25-2009   #2
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As I have been thinking about this question, many things about being an artist have crossed my mind.

Then, I came across this article and thought about how terrible it would be for your own art to kill you!

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/02/ar...r=2&ref=design
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Old 03-25-2009   #3
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To the extent I use light to shape and define the subject and use my darkroom or photoshop to further refine the imeage, I am an artist.

I can`t paint, but a Wacom tablet would allow some serious computer painting.
 

Old 03-25-2009   #4
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Dave ... suggesting people make a self assessment over such an issue is really opening up a can of worms in my opinion ... a few will do it but will often as not be wrong in their assessments.

There are a lot of artists in the area where I live who are talented in many ways and I can only imagine where this talent comes from. Sculptors painters illustrators musicians, you name it, we seem to have them all ... not one other dedicated photographer that I know of though.

A while ago our community had a competition asking parents to photograph their children for a local playgroup publication ... a calender from memory. The best submissions were displayed at our local hall and I went along for a look ... some of the photographs were stunningly good and the best were noticably done by people who were actually artists in some other area apart from photography.

Photography without artistic intent is really just reportage or a display of technical proficiency in my opinion and I believe that this is what the majority of us here are. The true artists stand out ... be it with camera, brush, violin, or whatever!
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Old 03-25-2009   #5
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I hope that there is some form of artistic merit to my pictures. I hope that my senses, emotions and instinct form the things around me into a vision that others would wish to spend time viewing. I hope that I'm capable of making images that are layered and multi dimensional.

Yet at no point do I consider myself an artist. I'm merely a photographer, one that does jobs to pay my bills and one that tries to use photography as a language to communicate with others. Some of this can be applied to artists but no, me...I'm a photographer.
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Old 03-25-2009   #6
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I've always considered myself a technician rather than an artist where photography is concerned. I've done this long enough that I can make the medium do anything I want it to, but creating completely new things from whole cloth is for others to do.

I've done shows in galleries, but I don't consider what I do "art."
 

Old 03-25-2009   #7
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I am not an artist.
I am not a graphic designer.
I am not a photographer.

I'm Martin, pleased to make your acquaintance.
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Old 03-25-2009   #8
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Yeah, graphic designers are a whole 'nuther thing. I work everyday with a graphic designer and, even though I know Photoshop probably as well as she does, she can make that program ( and Illustrator) work magic!
 

Old 03-25-2009   #9
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I thought I would put up some artistic effects

Originals are photos modified with Painter Essentials 3 and a mouse
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File Type: jpg RF_2504 tex .jpg (61.3 KB, 44 views)

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Old 03-25-2009   #10
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I've never considered myself an "artist". Just "photographer", and lately, not even that.

It's something of a stigma that I've internalized growing up. It might be my working class upbringing, growing up in a military family, that always associated "ART" and artists as elitist, superficial, pretentious, etc.

I personally don't think that about "art" and the "artists" I know, film-makers, painters, actors, graphic designers, etc., who also seem hesitant about referring to themselves as artists, but might if it means making a buck and presenting themselves a certain way to client$.

I've had other people call me an artist, that's OK...whatever, I've been called worse ;-), but I personally don't refer to myself as one.
 

Old 03-25-2009   #11
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Interesting....even wikipedia supports the idea that photography is art (or can be); musicians are artists; dancers are artists;...

So, why is it some are hesitant to be called artists or what they do to be considered art?
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Old 03-25-2009   #12
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I just do what I like and its up to others to place labels.
 

Old 03-25-2009   #13
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#2 picture
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Old 03-25-2009   #14
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I don't think that it's possible to draw that firm line seperating "fine" art from commercial art. In the end the decision is made by museum curators, gallery owners, and collectors...the people with the checkbooks.

It has nothing to do with the photographer's intent when making the photograph. Another factor is style. Yes, art goes through periods where one thing is fashionable, and then another.

One thing still unresolved in the photographic art world is whether a traditional wet process print is more valuable than a "machine made" print using digital printing technology. In other media, such as etchings, lithographs, or serigraphs, a hand pulled print by the artist has a lot more value than the same image coming out of a printing press or via some digital printing technology. The hand pulled print is considered "art" while the others are "reproductions".
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Old 03-25-2009   #15
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Yes, I am an artist. I do fine art photography, I exhibit in art galleries and my work has been in art museum exhibits, and I have an art degree. I'm an artist, photography is the medium I prefer to work in.
 

Old 03-25-2009   #16
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I'd like to define myself so but I believe I am more of a dilettante.
 

Old 03-25-2009   #17
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It's sort of in the eye of the beholder, isn't it? From where I stand, I don't think I produce "art" reliably enough to consider myself an artist.

I echo what Keith said about artists who work in other mediums and take up a camera. I have an aquaintance from another forum who was a total camera idiot. I helped her for several weeks with the technical aspects of photography and she still doesn't understand half of what's going on when she pushes the shutter.
Her work stands head and shoulders above my own and has since week 2 of her photographic experience. She is an artist, and would produce art no matter what you put in her hands.
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Old 03-25-2009   #18
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IMHO, I think calling myself an artist is wrong... I'm a photographer yes, a musician and writer too by profession and trade... but I never call myself an artist. I think it's up to my audience whether to brand me an artist or not...
 

Old 03-25-2009   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave lackey View Post
Interesting....even wikipedia supports the idea that photography is art (or can be); musicians are artists; dancers are artists;...

So, why is it some are hesitant to be called artists or what they do to be considered art?
I believe it's called being humble. A lot of extraordinary artist grace forum everyday in my opinion.

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Old 03-25-2009   #20
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I used to be referred to as an artist of sorts, but since I've given up the drink that description no longer fits.
 

Old 03-25-2009   #21
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I used to be referred to as an artist of sorts, but since I've given up the drink that description no longer fits.
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Old 03-25-2009   #22
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I used to be referred to as an artist of sorts, but since I've given up the drink that description no longer fits.
You could always cut an ear off.
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Old 03-25-2009   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave lackey View Post
Do you consider yourself an artist? I know a number of people here do...not just a "photographer".

How do you define the term "artist" within the photographic context?
if you have studied art and/or sell on the art market that makes you an artist. maybe not a good one..
it's a careeer like any other.
 

Old 03-25-2009   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave lackey View Post
Interesting....even wikipedia supports the idea that photography is art (or can be); musicians are artists; dancers are artists;...

So, why is it some are hesitant to be called artists or what they do to be considered art?
photography is a language employed by artists.
the guy who paints your house, he does have a brush but he ain't an artist...
 

Old 03-25-2009   #25
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IMHO, I think calling myself an artist is wrong... I'm a photographer yes, a musician and writer too by profession and trade... but I never call myself an artist. I think it's up to my audience whether to brand me an artist or not...
yup. good attitude. shows you are a pro.
 

Old 03-25-2009   #26
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For most of my life I would have agreed with JOE1951 in regard to the association of the term "artist" with being pretentious and elitist. Much of my early life was associated with art and I won a number of awards in my school years, so I probably could have been justified in calling myself an "artist". It wasn't until I was well over 40 that I came across a treatise called "A Defence of Poetry", written by the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1821 (this discussion of "what is art" and "who is an artist" has been going on for a long time), that gave a definition of art that made me comfortable with the term. Percy describes poetry, and art in general, as "the expression of the imagination". If viewed in this way, the pretension and elitism is stripped away. Some of us are blessed with more imagination than others and our societies often stymie the development of imagination, but even so, any attempt at expressing imagination is art. There's no "test' that one needs to pass to be an artist. If one raises a camera to their eye and applies some degree of creativity in composing a photo, they are creating art. Maybe not great art, but art none the less.

There is the issue of mastering the medium that one is working in. There's more to photography than just controling the amount of light striking a sensor or film to achieve a correctly exposed image, but one doesn't have to be a master of the medium to create an artistic image. If one takes the time to review a exihibit of work created by students, one is likely to be rewarded with viewing work where imagination and creativity is expressed vividly.
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Old 03-25-2009   #27
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I have a day job I find boring.

I consider myself a creative person who is still kinda lost. I was a painter and had a two person show in New York. Did a lot of performance art throughout the northeast, now I'm writing a lot.

I have a Bachelors in Visual Art, a Masters in broadcast communications, and an MFA in creative writing. Never made any real money with my art, but life would lack meaning without the struggle.

But just because I have a camera it doesn't make me a photographer. I'm wondering aloud: just because I'm creative, even if I have been recognized, it doesn't mean I am an artist.

Its hard to explain my passion, because its really about challenge, searching, and never really getting there. If I called myself an artist I would just be a poser.

The most I can say is that all my life I've been involved in the arts. Perhaps it might be better to call me just plain confused.

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Old 03-25-2009   #28
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Maybe I wasn't clear.

Even though I do all of these things I listed, I am not those things.
They might define my skill set and interests, or other people's perception of myself but not my Self.

Therefore I am (and can only be) Martin, and nothing else.
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Old 03-25-2009   #29
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Yes, I'm artist and photography is just one of the mediums I use for making art.
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Old 03-25-2009   #30
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I think it's a question of intent.
When it comes to music, I think that I am an artist in everything I do. Whether playing in a rock style pit band for a musical, or composing a string trio, I try to bring a part of myself into what I'm doing and I like to think that my music is stamped with my experiences and perception of the world.

My photography, on the other hand, is largely recording what I see around me. While some of myself comes into every photo I take, my intent is rather to participate in that which is around me. It's not really an expression of myself, and for that reason I don't see it as my art.

If I spent more time shooting models in controlled situations, doing landscape work, or even just working on a particular project, then I would consider myself a photographic artist. In that case I feel that my work would be more representative of my self and my vision.
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Old 03-25-2009   #31
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I read somewhere that defines an artist as: "someone who is sensitive towards artistic matters and do something with it"

I think this is a good definition, people who are merely spectators, even though they have a high-level artistic sense cannot be called an artist. Conversely, anyone who creates/re-creates something artistic can be called an artist.

Also this definition gets rid of any self-aggrandizing notion often associated with the term. So being and artist is about what you do/create/contribute, not about what you're known for.

The next question is, how much of an artist are you?
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Old 03-25-2009   #32
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i get irritated when other people call me an artist, so i'm not about to do it to myself.
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Old 03-25-2009   #33
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Old 03-25-2009   #34
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Mais, oui!! I'm an artist... NOT!

Just a documentatorist. I like documenting stuff and watching documentaries.
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Old 03-25-2009   #35
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I have never considered myself an artist.
I am a journalist by profession and strive to apply the same rules of that world to my endeavors as a photographer.
If I had to classify myself as something, I guess it would be documentary/landscape photographer.
 

Old 03-25-2009   #36
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Quote:
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For most of my life I would have agreed with JOE1951 in regard to the association of the term "artist" with being pretentious and elitist. Much of my early life was associated with art and I won a number of awards in my school years, so I probably could have been justified in calling myself an "artist". It wasn't until I was well over 40 that I came across a treatise called "A Defence of Poetry", written by the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1821 (this discussion of "what is art" and "who is an artist" has been going on for a long time), that gave a definition of art that made me comfortable with the term. Percy describes poetry, and art in general, as "the expression of the imagination". If viewed in this way, the pretension and elitism is stripped away. Some of us are blessed with more imagination than others and our societies often stymie the development of imagination, but even so, any attempt at expressing imagination is art. There's no "test' that one needs to pass to be an artist. If one raises a camera to their eye and applies some degree of creativity in composing a photo, they are creating art. Maybe not great art, but art none the less.
Well said. In some cultures, almost anyone is/can be an artist. Art is not an elitist gift that only a few visionaries can produce. In reality, we are all artists. Art is really nothing more than an expression of our world through our imagination.
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Old 03-25-2009   #37
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I cannot think of any great photographer who has called himself/herself an 'artist'. Why should they -- surely it's enough to be a 'photographer'?
 

Old 03-25-2009   #38
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I cannot think of any great photographer who has called himself/herself an 'artist'. Why should they -- surely it's enough to be a 'photographer'?
there are a couple great photographers who would agree, like elliott erwitt and gary winogrand, but that's because they're sardonic.

ask stieglitz, weston, or many others, and they'll disagree.
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Old 03-25-2009   #39
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I will leave it to others to decide whether I can be called an artist, or whether my work can be called art. I feel like I barely qualify to call myself a photographer. I'd prefer to focus on what I'm doing rather than what I'm called.
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Old 03-25-2009   #40
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ask stieglitz, weston, or many others, and they'll disagree.
Not necessarily:

When the article title, “Edward Weston, Artist” was sent to him in galley, he circled the word “Artist” with the comment: “Cut, or change to “Photographer”, of which title I am very proud.) [“Edward Weston – The Flame of Recognition” edited by Nancy Newhall, An Aperture Monograph, New York 1971 p. 64]
 
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