TWiP 398 – Raiders of the Lost Art

This week, Renee Robyn, Shiv Verma and Ibarionex Perello join Frederick to tackle the hot question… is photography “art”, and are photographers “artists”?

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    1. She’s a personal friend – it’s who she is. The guy from Fro Knows Photo when he was on was way worse. Swearing is just words – whether it’s obnoxious is an opinion. Others may feel differently.

    2. Darlene

      I recently completed your excellent course “Portrait Lighting on Location.” Thankfully, you were clear, concise, and you provided useful information. My opinion would certainly be different if you had distracted me with swearing throughout your presentation.

      It is also my opinion that swearing interferes with efficient communication and is detrimental to the purpose of informing listeners who are interested in the content of podcasts and other informational presentations.

    3. Well, fair enough. I would never consider swearing when I’m teaching – in classroom or online. I do not consider it professional.

      But . . . I tend to match my audience (hard to do on a podcast). On our photography tours where we’re spending 2 weeks together as a group I hold my tongue. If others let certain words rip then I follow – but only if the entire group has made it okay and we’re all on the same page. But you’re right it’s a much different environment sitting around in the evening sipping cocktails together.

  1. I couldn’t care less about the swearing. Just wanted to comment that this was one of the best TWIP discussions I’ve heard. And to say that we should distinguish between good art and bad art and okay art. Most poetry is bad. Most painting is bad. Most songwriting is bad. Most photography is bad. But when you purposefully create an image or edit a body of work you are creating art. No need to elevate the word.

  2. I found the profanity to be unexpected and distracting. I think guests should be able to censor themselves in a forum like TWIP. After a few minutes of listening I located the “Make It Awesome Button” (a phrase Ms. Robyn used repeatedly) on my iPod and switched to a different podcast.

  3. I have to go along with the discussion this week. Not all photography is art, but there are many who are deliberate in the way they create who are certainly making images that can be considered art. I see ads for software and actions that claim to turn any image into works of art that, in my opinion, just make average images awful.

    On the subject of trade shows, the advice to go in with a plan is good.

    Thank you for this week’s episode, the longer length discussion on one important topic was terrific. I hope you present more like it.

  4. I always listen to and enjoy the podcast but I thought the discussion on art/artists was too long and a bit like the debate on how many angels fit in th head of a pin. Let’s move on.

  5. I recall Scott Bourne saying it best. Just because something is difficult to do, does not make it intrinsically more valuable or better. The technical aspects of photography are just a fraction of what makes a great photo. Subject, composition, and light are more important than your technical knowledge of post-processing, f-stops, or shutter speeds.

  6. Renee, i don’t think you’re condescending and I see what’s in your heart, and I get what you mean even though you can’t express it properly. But I also don’t think art needs to be difficult or time consuming, that’s just backwards thinking and plain silly. That’s right I’ve seen them paint splashing “works of art” that even a baby can do.

    But I think Renee thinks of photography like this. I mean, imagine looking at a scene and pressing a button which in turn alerts a painter who follows you everywhere to start painting the scene you’re pointing to. Who is the artist? You or the painter? I would have a hard time saying the painter was my tool to reveal my vision. NO, the painter expressed his vision of what you pointed at and that’s exactly what the camera does. We might argue composition, exposure, pre-visualization, etc. but at the end of the day the camera did the job just like the painter. With that in mind, I would say there are other elements that go into developing an image, and I believe that some the art in imagery starts at that point, even though it’s easier than chiseling a rock.

    Photography itself does not make the photographer an artist and neither does the awesomeness Presets out there. And I have to agree with her to a point. Photos are art whether you like it or not Renee, but I’ll agree, Photography in and of itself isn’t art. And pushing a shutter button doesn’t make you an artist just like telling a painter to paint doesn’t make you an artist.

    I’d say photographers who are artists are those who know how to capture their RAW elements and who develop them into the vision they have in mind (be it altering exposure, contrast, dodging and burning, or just plain altering the image). Yes it’s easier than chiseling out a rock, but it’s still art. But seeing a scene and hitting click, and putting out what the camera or the software did, even if we calculated exposure and did all that composition brainwork at the end of the day it was Nikon, Canon, Fuji, etc. that painted the scene, not us.

    So even though there’s some elements of art and artistry in producing an image worthy of the title “work of art”, photography itself is only part of the process of art, but it’s not art in and of itself.

    1. I agree with the comments below that the entire discussion came across as condescending. I almost turned it off a couple of times.

      I think that most people who say something is not art may really be thinking that the “art” is not necessarily good. I don’t see anyone questioning if a painting is art because it was created with a particular type of brush. If you focus on does the art speak to you or move you as a definition for art, you are also talking about “quality” and/or “taste”.

      I especially reacted to the discussion trying to distinguish between something that was “merely creative” as opposed to “art.” It seemed snobbish and condescending where something may somehow deserve the elevated title of art and other items are not good enough. I don’t just use my emotional reaction to something to determine if it is art – I may not like something that others do. Popularity of something is not a good metric either – some people like the look of Thomas Kincade or Trey Ratcliff (as examples of certain styles) – and others are turned off by it. Such opinions do not define what is art.

      I don’t see how anyone can say what was in the mind of a creator of art – they may offer what they get from it – or how it speaks to them. It may or may not be what the “artist” intended. This fact does not make either the artist’s or the viewer’s thoughts to be wrong.

      Art to me is whatever any of us believes it is. How any particular piece if art acts in our lives, thoughts, inspirations, etc is the basis of how WE as INDIVIDUALS value it. If something is an item that I value, then it is art to me. Having some body of “them” who gets to decide what is and is not art serves no purpose IMHO.

      Then again, these opinions are right as far as I am concern and I do not want to imply that alternate opinions are wrong – just different …

  7. Regarding renee’s language–I found it distracting not up to the standards of Twip. Clean is classy. Love ya’ Renee nevertheless and especially love the show

  8. Excellent episode, Frederick – this topic can easily yield another 10 hours of discussion.

    The crux of the argument is one’s definition of art. As long as the spark or impetus to represent some take on the human condition/experience is authentic (itself almost impossible to suss out, I know), then the resulting work is art, regardless of medium, and regardless of whether it resonates within me. It’s a POTENTIAL two-way street (Creation Appreciation), but it doesn’t have to be in order for something to be “art.” I may dislike a work, but my opinion doesn’t invalidate the creator’s intentions (let’s assume they’re authentic), nor cancels others’ appreciation.

    Photography is not “art” in and of itself, and neither is writing, painting, poetry, music, film-making, etc. They are only chosen mediums of expression. By extension, not all photos are art – highly skilled captures and post-processing, sure, but art? It all goes back to the origin of their creation: commissioned work, technical experimentation, or genuine artistic impulse? (They are NOT mutually exclusive, by the way.)

    Is all wedding photography art? All product photography? All nature photography? What about all portrait photography? (This last one can really open up a can of worms with regard to the history of portrait painting and “art.”) Certainly not — I know what speaks to me, and that is what I call art.

  9. While this was an interesting topic, the show got lost in mush because there was no operational definition to work with. One thing I know is that art is not process, it is result, and not always then.

    I do know that photography is media and sometimes photographs (like paintings, books, statues, etc.) are art.

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