Friday, January 18, 2013

What Is Art? Are You A Creator?

What is art?

This is an impossible question to fully answer because there are plenty of grey areas and varying opinions. It is not a complete answer that I hope to give, but a more generic response. I do think there is value in the answer.
Wood Tear - Tehachapi, California
Art is creating. It is making something tangible out of the intangible. Because art is creating, it must also be creative. Imagination is a prerequisite to creating art. The more inspired and vivid the imagination, the more creative the art will be. You must have vision in order to create art.

Many people call themselves photographers but do not create art. For many years I was one of those photographers. I did not understand vision. I did not understand art. I did not know how to create a great photograph.
Seven Old Trees - Mountain Mesa, California
I did know how to operate a camera. I knew how develop film and use an enlarger. I knew about different chemicals and papers, and how long the paper should be in the different chemical baths. But I did not know what truly mattered.

If I captured a great photograph, it was merely by chance. I could not orchestrate a great image. I was documenting, but not interpreting. I was not creating. I did not make art.
Summer Mow - Tehachapi, California
I did not begin to make art until I moved beyond documenting. I had to begin seeing in my mind what I want in a photograph (and understand why) before I could go about creating anything.

At some point I began to have ideas. I began to envision what photographs I wanted, and then set out to create them. This is not an easy task, but it is essential. Without seeing first, one cannot create anything of meaning.
Faith In The Sand - San Diego, California
A great photograph has meaning. Art is not capturing a pretty picture, but conveying a thought or emotion. If an image is meaningless, then it is worthless.

A good exercise is to explain the meaning of your images. While you can do this by yourself, it can be helpful to have an unbiased person listen to your explanations and provide feedback.
Wheat Grass - Tehachapi, California
When you explain your images, you should convey the meaning of your photographs. Talk about the "why" and avoid the technical data (nobody cares about that anyway). If you cannot explain the image, the image will never be able to explain itself, either.

Photography is a from of non-verbal communication. Photographs say something. What do your photographs say? If you are not actively inserting the message when composing the image, it may say something like "I'm boring" or "don't waste time looking at me" or "I'm all over the place" or some other message that you never intended. As much as you can, you want to control the message that your photographs convey.
Cinder Blocks - Victorville, California
Photographs should be to-the-point. The viewer should know what your image is all about with a quick look. A common mistake is to include too much or to not have a single message. Remove all distractions from the message when composing your photographs. Your message (whatever it may be) must be easy to grasp, because if it doesn't jump out to the viewer right away, he or she will likely skip right past it and onto the next thing the eyes catch.

Be a creator of art. Use your imagination and have a vision. Push yourself to place a voice in your images.

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