The guest lectures were especially good this week. I found it really interesting and informative to here Liz and Addie from Elliot Halls talk about how they decide what to display, who to represent and how to strategically approach building a relationship with a gallery. I was not surprised to hear how competitive the marketplace is, but I was a bit surprised at how patient one might need to be to attract the attention of the gallery world and how many years Elliot Halls had taken before deciding to bring someone in. Not sure I have enough years left to hope to find my way in to a gallery.
I was also very intrigued by the work of Lewis Bush. I was familiar with some of his work, but it was really good to hear him talk about it and the incredible depth of research he went to on each project. It was also fascinating to see how far afield from photography he went to do research and stimulate inspiration. While the subject matter he deals with is quite different than mine, what I found of interest was the similarity in the idea of revealing things “hidden in plain sight”. This was true to a degree in Metropole, but even more so in Shadows of the State. Many people go through life not seeing, really seeing, things that surround them every day. My work on this course has focused on showing places to people in ways they had not been shown or in ways people had not seen for themselves.
I managed to despite still running a fever to get out for a couple hours of shooting on Friday. It completely exhausted me, but I came back with a range of good and not so good work. My approach to work has definitely changed since the beginning of the course. I now work virtually exclusively in Manual settings and there is a much more deliberate attempt to get the framing and exposure completely right in the camera. I also go out with specific intentions of what I want to shoot. I had been wanting to get better images of some of the dune slacks as well as some additional video in the glades and slacks to show the movement. I was successful yesterday with the video as it was very windy, and the results were very dynamic in contrast to the stills. I was not satisfied with the still images in the slacks between the wind disrupting the stillness of the water and the time of day, I felt the photos were soulless and uninteresting visually and they did not evoke any emotion. A few of the detail shots did work out as did the glade work.
On this week’s coursework and whether photography is art. As I have written in a prior post, I think it is a something of a ridiculous question when it is phrased that way. Is all photography art? Of course it is not. As Merry Foresta noted in the foreword to Photography Changes Everything, “most of the billions of pictures that are taken with cameras every year are made for purposes that have nothing to do with art. They are made for quite specific reasons, some exalted and some mundane, and their value is dependent on how well they serve a purpose that, more often than not, has nothing to do with photography itself.” (Heiferman, 2012: 7)
Can photography be art? Again of course it can, though that judgement lies in the hands of the consumers and promoters, rather than with the photographer. I cite as a relevant current example the documentary work of Don McCullin who never considered himself an artist, nor was his work made with the thought of it being viewed as art, and yet it sits today on the walls of the Tate Modern. The art world and art buyers are fickle. Sometimes its trendy, sometimes its rare, and sometimes there is just no accounting for taste.
HEIFERMAN, Marvin. 2012. Photography Changes Everything. First. New York: Aperture.