Monday, February 9, 2015

What Photography Is About

Fallen Angel - Stallion Springs, California
Recently someone's not-very-good photograph was selected for something instead of mine. They received praise and money. I didn't receive anything, and I was upset by this.

I don't want to get into the details except to say that the photograph was underexposed, poorly composed, uninteresting and was otherwise a thoughtless snap. It wasn't a good image. Someone must have thought it was good, but it was obvious to me that this "someone" knows nothing about photography and art in general.

At first I was confused. What is it about this photo that someone would think that it's better than mine? Next I was angry. Why did someone pick this obviously inferior image? Then I was jealous. Why does this person deserve to have their photo selected over my photograph?

I went through a bunch of different emotions before I realized that I was reacting completely wrong to this whole thing. I had to do a little soul-searching and to try and understand what this whole photography thing is about for me.
Light Rays - Stallion Springs, California
There are, I decided, three types of photographers: those that do it for money, those that do it for art, and those that do it just because they have a camera.

Those who are photographers for money are professionals. These are people who get hired to capture something (weddings, portraits, products, etc.). Someone else has the initial vision and they hire the photographer to fulfill (and often refine) that vision. The photographer produces on-demand photographs to meet a buyer's expectations and gets paid for his or her effort.

Those who are photographers for art are artists. These photographers are not hired by anyone to create anything--they do it on their own and for themselves. While the artist-photographer would love to be paid for his or her work, there is not a demand that requires the art to be created, and there are not (usually) buyers lined up to purchase the work. The artist-photographs hopes that, with time, reward and recognition will come as people begin to appreciate his or her creative genius.

Those who are photographers just because they have a camera are amateurs. No one is paying them to capture images, and they are not doing it as an expression of art, either. They are doing it because they want to create a memory. They want to document their children or vacation. They want to put together a scrapbook. They are snapshooters.
Flag & Flare - Barstow, California 
I fall into the middle category. I am an artist, and I'm a photographer because I express my creativity through photography. There is nothing wrong with any of the three categories, and it is possible to sometimes fall into different categories at the same time. I have found myself in all three categories at some point, but primarily I'm an artist-photographer.

So what is photography about for me? I want to stretch my world into yours. I want to give you a hint of how I see and interpret the world around me. It's a desire to communicate in a deeper way than I am capable of with words. My photographs are an expression of me.

I'm not doing this whole photography thing for fame and fortune (although I wouldn't mind if that happened). I understand that a lot of artist-photographers received recognition long after their images were captured, and sometimes after they were dead. Some never received any at all. But I do hope that I can reach someone. I hope that I can bridge the gap between my mind and yours, and perhaps make some sense out of things that make no sense. Impossible tasks, but the impossibility of it is what drives the artist forward.

So it is completely alright that some other photograph was selected and my photograph was not. I did not capture that photograph for the purpose of that thing. Perhaps it would not have been understood by those viewers, and the point of it would have been lost.

I just hope that when my photographs are seen that they are appreciated. I hope that the purpose that they were created for is fulfilled. I think that the Roesch Photography Blog and The Urban Exploration Photography Blog (which is my "other" blog) are outlets for that. Likewise for when my images have been found in publications. Those things, though, are perhaps the metaphoric tip of the iceberg compared to what I hope is waiting just around the corner.

No comments:

Post a Comment