It is only by loving nature, and going to her for everything, that good work can be done; but then we must look to her for the materials for pictures, not for pictures themselves. It is nature filtered through the mind and fingers of the artist that produces art, and the quality of the pictures depends on the fineness of that filter.
Photography is to the layman perhaps the most enticing art. As a buff and a follower, at a respectful distance, I find myself like others, having the heart of a Steiglitz with hands that sometimes seem impeded by boxing gloves. What is exasperating is that one can feel closer to managing the skills of photography than most other arts, and yet be a long hop, skip and delusional way from it.
Knowing a great deal about what is in the world (art, catastrophe, the beauties of nature) through photographic images, people are frequently disappointed, surprised, unmoved when the see the real thing. For photographic images tend to subtract feeling from something we experience at first hand and the feelings they do arouse are, largely, not those we have in real life. Often something disturbs us more in photographed form than it does when we actually experience it.
The traditional difficulty of balancing the mechanical with the imaginative schools of photography still operates. In schools of photography meaningful art education is often lacking and on the strength of their technical ability alone students, deprived of a richer artistic training, are sent forth inculcated with the belief that they are creative photographers and artists. It is yet a fact that today, as in the past, the most inspiring and provocative works in photography come as much (and probably more) from those who are in the first place artists.
Has it led you to the conclusion that photography is an art ? Or it is simply a means of recording ? “I’m glad you asked that. I’ve been wanting to say this for years. Is cooking an art ? Is talking an art ? Is even painting an art ? It is artfulness that makes art, not the medium itself. Of course photography is an art – when it is in the hands of artists.”
Photography is to the layman perhaps the most constantly enticing art. As a buff and follower, at a respectful distance, I find myself like others, having the heart of a Steiglitz with hands that sometimes seem impeded by boxing gloves ... What is exasperating is that one can feel closer to managing the skills of photography than most other arts, and yet be a long hop, skip and delusional way from it.
One of the ongoing projects of modern art, and probably its most serious, is to tell what it's really like to be living here now - not what it's like on television or in advertisements, not what it's like to be a cohort, but what it's like to be a man or a woman in that unique body that's always living an odd life. Against the forces of false persuasion the artist offers an undeniable sort of truth, stated in simple human terms, minus the jargon and the emblems of expertise and false authority. It's always a voice and the voice always says: this is how it is for me, and I hope you understand.
When Jack London had his portrait made by the noted San Francisco photographer Arnold Genthe, London began the encounter with effusive praise for the photographic art of his friend and fellow bohemian, Genthe. "you must have a wonderful camera...It must be the best camera in the world...You must show me your camera." Genthe then used his standard studio camera to make what has since become a classic picture of Jack London. When the sitting was finished, Genthe could not contain himself: "I have read your books, Jack, and I think they are important works of art. You must have a wonderful typewriter."
To speak technically photography is the art of writing with light. But if I want to think about it more philosophically, I can say that photography is the art of writing with time. When you capture an image you capture not only a piece of space, you also capture a piece of time. So you have this piece of specific time in your square or rectangle. In that sense I find that photography has more to do with time than with light.
Only recently serious research into the relationship between photography and art has taken place. Why has it been so long in coming ? “In some respects historical research is analogous with that of science. The bringing to light of factual material and the development of ideas is to a large extent cumulative.[…] But when artists themselves were, from about 1910, beginning to tear down the bastions protecting Art in its ivory tower, questioning the idea of Art with a capital ‘A’, photography was inevitably to assume a new stature both in the eyes of artists and the public, too."
Why do most great pictures look uncontrived? Why do photographers bother with the deception, especially since it so often requires the hardest work of all? The answer is, I think, that the deception is necessary if the goal of art is to be reached: only pictures that look as if they had been easily made can convincingly suggest that beauty is commonplace.
...the only things that distinguish the photographer from everybody else are his pictures: they alone are the basis for our special interest in him. If pictures cannot be understood without knowing details of the artist's private life, then that is a reason for faulting them; major art, by definition, can stand independent of its maker.
From its inception, photography challenged and threatened other art forms. Given that photography is the child of technology, it is no wonder that as we progress to the digital age, photography would reflect those changes most completely. I don’t worry myself with what is art and what is not. More often than not, what is called art has no bearing on the world or most people’s concerns. I am more concerned with we can communicate to the public through art and the viability of media to make a positive difference in our world. Great art reveals itself effortlessly, no matter how complex or sophisticated, and can be recognized by both the initiated and uninitiated.