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  #1  
Old November 10th, 2008, 04:50 PM
Rod Witten Rod Witten is offline
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Default Common Properties of the best Photographs

I'm sure that all of us have favorite Fine Art Photographs that we consider "better than the rest". What are your favorites and what, in your judgement, is the one photographic/art element that makes them stand out. If possible, include a link to your selections viewing site.

Here is one of mine - Nick Brandt's cats - The remarkable candid forms presented in black & white.
http://www.nickbrandt.com/popup.html





© Nick Brandt "Portrait of Lioness Against Rock, Serengeti 2007" linked here, picture added by Asher

Last edited by Asher Kelman; November 10th, 2008 at 06:12 PM. Reason: Added linked picture to give anchor to Brandt's work discussion.
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  #2  
Old November 10th, 2008, 05:14 PM
Kathy Rappaport Kathy Rappaport is offline
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There are many photographers whose work I admire. George Hurrell comes to mind easily - love his bright spotlighted/fresnel look and the drama that goes with it.

Also currently still shooting and teaching is Douglas Kirkland who I took a studio lighting class from about 2 years ago when I was first interested in learning about studio lighting. I'd never seen a softbox or a pocket wizard when I took the class. I haven't looked back after that.

http://www.douglaskirkland.com/03_swfs_html/main.html



You might want to look at buying his famous book on Marylin Monroe



photo © Doug Kirkland from "An Evening with Marilyn" By Doug Kirkland, link and picture added by Asher
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  #3  
Old November 10th, 2008, 05:25 PM
Rod Witten Rod Witten is offline
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It certainly doesn't hurt to have famous subjects. I appreciate Kirkland's approach of not shooting the well worn poses. Thanks
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  #4  
Old November 10th, 2008, 05:55 PM
leonardobarreto.com leonardobarreto.com is offline
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Image directed from www.moma.org

It has to have a lot, really lots of $0.99 products...

Or aged, large pieces of junk



Or... be like this...



Images by Burtynsky redirected for editorial discussion...

I just love the guy... http://www.fotofreo.com/images/FF200...0Series800.jpg

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  #5  
Old November 10th, 2008, 07:49 PM
Rod Witten Rod Witten is offline
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leonardobarreto,


Would you know what camera system Burtynsky utilizes?

Last edited by Rod Witten; November 10th, 2008 at 08:27 PM.
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  #6  
Old November 10th, 2008, 07:54 PM
Maris Rusis Maris Rusis is offline
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The same standards should apply to photographs as apply to other reputable art work:

1. The work in question is an actual photograph, not merely something that looks like a photograph, and is identifiable as a specific medium on a specific substrate eg gelatin-silver photograph on fibre/baryta base.
1. The work in question is executed by the photographer.
2. The work is in good physical condition and archival enough to accumulate a consensus of acclaim.
3. The photographer has an extended body of work and a history of creativity confirming that they are not a student, beginner, experimenter, dilettante, or one shot wonder.
4. The photograph is what the photographer intended.

Most things put up as photographs in the art world do not verifiably meet those standards.

Curiously the aspects that preoccupy most picture posters in on-line forums, what's it of and what's it look like, are irrelevant. One would surely credit a respected photographer with the ability to select appropriate subject matter and render it the desired way.

None of the above connects to whether a picture is liked or not. Some great photographs, Frederick Sommer's chicken entrails for example, I would not hang on my sitting room wall.
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  #7  
Old November 10th, 2008, 09:26 PM
Ken Tanaka Ken Tanaka is offline
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Originally Posted by Rod Witten View Post
leonardobarreto,


Would you know what camera system Burtynsky utilizes?
Edward Burtynsky uses a large format (film) camera for nearly all of the work he's published.

For what it's worth: the term "fine art photography" is one that I never encounter in art collecting and curatorial circles.
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Old November 10th, 2008, 11:01 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Tanaka View Post
Edward Burtynsky uses a large format (film) camera for nearly all of the work he's published.

For what it's worth: the term "fine art photography" is one that I never encounter in art collecting and curatorial circles.
So Ken,

What should be the umbrella for all these acclaimed works? What terms? For the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, the term "Photographs" of "Photography Collections" is all that is used for one of the greatest repositories of significant images from the earliest days of photographic endeavor. For LACMA, it's just "Photography".

John Szarkowski, as the long time director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, was "dominant figure in the establishment of photography as an art form", his obituary in the LA Times, here gives much credit to him as a person who helped to forge a respectable place for the photograph and "discovering talented photographers, whose names became iconic.

“John set the rules of connoisseurship,” said Stephen White, a photography dealer and former gallery owner in Los Angeles. “He made the Museum of Modern Art a paradigm for the field. He set the standard on how to display photography, how to look at it, how to frame it.”

Asher
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  #9  
Old November 11th, 2008, 12:18 AM
Ken Tanaka Ken Tanaka is offline
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Here in Chicago, at the Art Institute of Chicago, it's just "Photography", too.

I know of no notable collection that calls itself "fine art" photography. That's a term almost exclusive to amateur photographic, craft fair, and some commercial printing circles.

With regard to the late John Szarkowski, he made inestimable strides toward establishing photography as a recognized modern art form during the mid-20th century. Much of the work coming into museums and private collections today, however, reflects an expansion of those early standards into the 21st century in terms of size and display format. For example, very large (feet x feet) prints on advertising-type substrates such as aluminum or synthetic board has become relatively commonplace as the world of photography seems to have in a fixation on visual impact above true quality. (Personally, I'm hoping that a prolonged languid economy disinfects some of this stuff from the art world...but that's a separate topic.)
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  #10  
Old November 11th, 2008, 01:14 AM
Nicolas Claris Nicolas Claris is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Tanaka View Post
(Personally, I'm hoping that a prolonged languid economy disinfects some of this stuff from the art world...but that's a separate topic.)
Bonjour Ken

Once more I agree with you…

You would be more than welcome to create a new topic with some more of your thoughts about your feelings/findings in the above quoted matter…
I've been so oftenly (but not always, fortunately!) dissapointed by the photography shown in Museums. In the USA and Europe as well…
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  #11  
Old November 11th, 2008, 04:12 AM
Michael Fontana Michael Fontana is offline
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........
I've been so oftenly (but not always, fortunately!) dissapointed by the photography shown in Museums. In the USA and Europe as well…

I agree, Nicolas,
there is a inflation of artitst, but what a joy, when finding one of the gems! It's been all the time like that, and time only will tell about quality.

As a personal example, Sugimoto hit me when I saw first time one of his originals. It opened my eyes to something - some words - I couldn't spell.
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Old November 11th, 2008, 06:02 AM
Rod Witten Rod Witten is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Tanaka View Post
Edward Burtynsky uses a large format (film) camera for nearly all of the work he's published.

For what it's worth: the term "fine art photography" is one that I never encounter in art collecting and curatorial circles.
Ken,

Thanks for the industry insight. It makes sense that once a photograph is accepted by the museum class it would be redundant to call it "fine art". Maybe, we see the "fine art" title used outside of the "accepted" class to show the intent to produce a higher quality than the general "art & craft" show work.
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  #13  
Old November 11th, 2008, 10:12 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rod Witten View Post
Ken,

Thanks for the industry insight. It makes sense that once a photograph is accepted by the museum class it would be redundant to call it "fine art". Maybe, we see the "fine art" title used outside of the "accepted" class to show the intent to produce a higher quality than the general "art & craft" show work.*
Rod,

In "Fine Art Photography", The two obviously flamboyant words "Fine" and art serve to decorate the offer of work which has promise in delighting us.



Full height photograph of women dressed as maiko (geisha apprentices), Kyoto, Japan. They are wearing traditional kimono and geta. Photo: Michael Reeve, 26 March 2004, first uploaded in en.wikipedia 17:52, 16 May 2004. Wikipedia Commons

This is how the decorated kimono of the Geisha girl, her walk and smile work to entice men to her real naked self. The kimono is like "Fine" and "Art" superficial wrappings. It's just a claim that we can hope will be realized when we get passed them. The the girl herself, with her charm and culture, even naked, must ultimately outshine the kimono from any perspective!

So "Fine Art" is more like an advertisement for something beautiful we all seek: beauty, physical joy, respite, justice, attachment, trust and hope.

To "Fine Art Photography" and the Kimono I'd add the the scales of justice we see when we climb the steps of a courthouse.

Asher

*I expect when they are out of training they get proper Geisha shoes! Something like finally getting your first wide format printer!
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  #14  
Old November 11th, 2008, 10:47 AM
Michael Fontana Michael Fontana is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rod Witten View Post
Ken,

Thanks for the industry insight. It makes sense that once a photograph is accepted by the museum class it would be redundant to call it "fine art". Maybe, we see the "fine art" title used outside of the "accepted" class to show the intent to produce a higher quality than the general "art & craft" show work.
Probably you' re right, with the "art & craft"-reason, but today it's a anachronisme, in my book. These labels don't say anything about the content. Do we have °fine° painters?
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Old November 11th, 2008, 11:02 AM
Rod Witten Rod Witten is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
Rod,

In "Fine Art Photography", The two obviously flamboyant words "Fine" and art serve to decorate the offer of work which has promise in delighting us.



Full height photograph of women dressed as maiko (geisha apprentices), Kyoto, Japan. They are wearing traditional kimono and geta. Photo: Michael Reeve, 26 March 2004, first uploaded in en.wikipedia 17:52, 16 May 2004. Wikipedia Commons

This is how the decorated kimono of the Geisha girl, her walk and smile work to entice men to her real naked self. The kimono is like "Fine" and "Art" superficial wrappings. It's just a claim that we can hope will be realized when we get passed them. The the girl herself, with her charm and culture, even naked, must ultimately outshine the kimono from any perspective!

So "Fine Art" is more like an advertisement for something beautiful we all seek: beauty, physical joy, respite, justice, attachment, trust and hope.

To "Fine Art Photography" and the Kimono I'd add the the scales of justice we see when we climb the steps of a courthouse.

Asher

*I expect when they are out of training they get proper Geisha shoes! Something like finally getting your first wide format printer!
Asher,

In recognition of the insight gained, could you edit the title and body of my original question to remove the term "fine art". I would do it but for some reason I no longer have an "edit" option on the thread. Thanks
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  #16  
Old November 11th, 2008, 11:30 AM
Jim Galli Jim Galli is offline
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I wouldn't be too hasty in changing the title. whether it's "correct" or not, we all immediately knew what your question is.

Photographic art is an intimidating topic for a little old desert country boy. And yet, a few miles from my home in central Nevada you can find rock art left for us 1000 years ago by other little old desert country boys and no one would question whether or not it is art.

I think one common property is the art brings to us a little piece of the soul of the creator. Now not everyone tunes to the same radio station, and not every viable accepted piece of photographic art pleases me. But they all tell me something about the person who made them.

Beyond that you're out on a limb. Make a rule today and it will be proven insignificant tomorrow. No one in the real art world gives a fiddlers damn if I use an 8X10 camera and create glowing prints on Kodak AZO paper in Amidol developer like Edward Weston did.
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  #17  
Old November 11th, 2008, 11:33 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Quote:
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I wouldn't be too hasty in changing the title. whether it's "correct" or not, we all immediately knew what your question is.
I agree with Jim, changing the title would deduct value from the discussions so far IMO.

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  #18  
Old November 11th, 2008, 12:21 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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I can now update the Geishas to real professionals who are beautiful on the outside to attract us, "Fine Art" clothing, an advertisement and promise of an exceptional experience. A man can own a camera and all women have bodies. Having the function does not make art.

So I find the metaphor of the Geisha intriguing. I see some parallel between her decorative Kimono and the flourish of "Fine Art" to distinguish the more accomplished work "Fine" we as photographers strive to deliver.

We want to imply that our work might contain exceptional passion and aesthetic experience that only the artist's mind, not merely the camera, might devise.

I have permission to share with you this photograph which is more suitable to the metaphor I propose "The kimono and the special woman it wraps but which, dropped reveals her true self."



Photo © Alina Hagen, with permission
The "Kimono can cost thousands of dollars each. A maiko wears a kimono that has extra long sleeves (they touch the ground when she drops her arms) and is very long, colorful and intricately adorned with embroidery or hand-painted designs. Her collar is red, and her obi is long and wide. She wears tall wooden clogs called okobo to keep her kimono from dragging on the ground. Learning to walk in this outfit without falling over is part of her training", (Source)
.

So there we have it, a beautiful side of the wrappings we need.

Asher
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  #19  
Old November 11th, 2008, 06:46 PM
leonardobarreto.com leonardobarreto.com is offline
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Image by Nobuyoshi Araki

I made an elaborate post but can't see it now, anyway I'll do another one (hope Asher didn't move it somewhere)

This is Mr. Nobuyoshi Araki, one of the most important contemporary artists photographers of Japan, see what he does with the kimono?... any way, not my favorite.

Hiroshi Sugimoto, on the contrary is, but, that is the whole point. It depends on what you like. Art is pure metaphysical and as personal as religious believes ...


Image by Sugimoto Hiroshi


Hiroshi Sugimoto

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Old November 11th, 2008, 06:47 PM
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One more by Araki


More Araki
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  #21  
Old November 11th, 2008, 08:38 PM
Rod Witten Rod Witten is offline
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Probably you' re right, with the "art & craft"-reason, but today it's a anachronisme, in my book. These labels don't say anything about the content. Do we have °fine° painters?
Excluding house painters :=) it's reasonable that the additional title isn't necessary for art painters because they are usually and naturally called "artist". Unfortunately, many products of photography have nothing to do with art and the extra description is used to make a distinction for lack of a better term or a more lengthy description. The public knows photographers by a number of different roles (a few not very favorable). However, the wedding art painter is a rarity, at least in my part of the country and I doubt many art painters cram the sidelines of the superbowl in the hopes of getting that one image to make a buck.
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Old November 12th, 2008, 01:02 AM
Michael Fontana Michael Fontana is offline
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Originally Posted by Rod Witten View Post
Excluding house painters :=) it's reasonable that the additional title isn't necessary for art painters because they are usually and naturally called "artist". Unfortunately, many products of photography have nothing to do with art and the extra description is used to make a distinction for lack of a better term or a more lengthy description. The public knows photographers by a number of different roles (a few not very favorable). However, the wedding art painter is a rarity, at least in my part of the country and I doubt many art painters cram the sidelines of the superbowl in the hopes of getting that one image to make a buck.
Rod

well , that's all true, but not necessairly a definition, good enough.
Since M. Duchamp's fountain or urinoir, we all now, art is a matter of contextualisation:



I've seen °art photography° or °fine art° in galeries; the identical photos would have been better used for some adds.
Some °no art° photographer's produce better art than some self-labeled fine artists.

Today, the borders between fine art and °no art° are less rigide than in the old days.
Therefore my statement, that the definition of °fine art° is meaningless.

The process of beeing touched by these works is way more important, than the fuzzy definitions. That only matters.
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Old November 12th, 2008, 06:47 AM
Rod Witten Rod Witten is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Fontana View Post
Rod

well , that's all true, but not necessairly a definition, good enough.
Since M. Duchamp's fountain or urinoir, we all now, art is a matter of contextualisation:



I've seen °art photography° or °fine art° in galeries; the identical photos would have been better used for some adds.
Some °no art° photographer's produce better art than some self-labeled fine artists.

Today, the borders between fine art and °no art° are less rigide than in the old days.
Therefore my statement, that the definition of °fine art° is meaningless.

The process of beeing touched by these works is way more important, than the fuzzy definitions. That only matters.

You may be right. In this You-Tube society, where "fine art?" can be purchased on the home shopping network, resistance may be futile. How long until they merge cell phones and cheap video capture into the large format camera. By the way, we may want to inform Websters that their definition of Fine Art is obsolete and also those universities that offer Fine Art Photography degrees.
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Old November 12th, 2008, 07:25 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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I have been reading what Wikipedia says about fine art photography. It makes an interesting read:

Quote:
Fine art photography refers to photographs that are created to fulfill the creative vision of the artist. Fine art photography stands in contrast to photojournalism and commercial photography. Photojournalism provides visual support for stories, mainly in the print media. Commercial photography's main focus is to sell a product or service.
...
...
There are no universally-accepted definitions of the related terms "art photography," "artistic photography," and "fine art photography," as exemplified by definitions found in reference books, in scholarly articles, and on the Web.
...
...
Overlaps with other genres of photography

Although fine art photography may overlap with many other genres of photography, the overlaps with fashion photography and photojournalism merit special attention.
In 1996 it was stated that there had been a "recent blurring of lines between commercial illustrative photography and fine art photography," especially in the area of fashion. Evidence for the overlap of fine art photography and fashion photography includes lectures, exhibitions, trade fairs such as Art Basel Miami Beach, and books.
Photojournalism and fine art photography overlapped beginning in the "late 1960s and 1970s, when... news photographers struck up liaisons with art photography and painting". In 1974 the International Center of Photography opened, with emphases on both "humanitarian photojournalism" and "art photography". By 1987, "pictures that were taken on assignments for magazines and newspapers now regularly reappear[ed] - in frames - on the walls of museums and galleries".
...
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Old November 12th, 2008, 09:58 PM
Rene F Granaada Rene F Granaada is offline
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Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
So Ken,

What should be the umbrella for all these acclaimed works? What terms? For the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, the term "Photographs" of "Photography Collections" is all that is used for one of the greatest repositories of significant images from the earliest days of photographic endeavor. For LACMA, it's just "Photography".

John Szarkowski, as the long time director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, was "dominant figure in the establishment of photography as an art form", his obituary in the LA Times, here gives much credit to him as a person who helped to forge a respectable place for the photograph and "discovering talented photographers, whose names became iconic.

“John set the rules of connoisseurship,” said Stephen White, a photography dealer and former gallery owner in Los Angeles. “He made the Museum of Modern Art a paradigm for the field. He set the standard on how to display photography, how to look at it, how to frame it.”

Asher
"Painting with Light"
I do not claim to be an erudite if that is the correct word in English on the history or terminology for different specializations in photography..on the contrary...but when I think of the Latin root of the the word photography, writing with light or maybe painting with light is still what the term implies.

For me photographers that above all others show that they have understood the meaning of that term are Robert Capa with his famous photograph of a Republican Militiaman meeting his death, caught in midair by Capa's lens.



And of course Henri Cartier Bresson during his wanderings through Paris (and Spain), Ansel Adams and Burtynsky with his photo series of ships being transformed into scrap metal on India's beaches, and last but not least Robert Mapplethorpe..whether it be his photo of Andy Warhol, or his male nudes. These artists all had their own time enduring vision of what photography meant to them, how to "paint" with "light" and arrest that light on a flat surface like some kind of geological deposit, a moment in time stopped in it's tracks...
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Old November 12th, 2008, 11:31 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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"Painting with Light"
I do not claim to be an erudite if that is the correct word in English on the history or terminology for different specializations in photography..on the contrary...but when I think of the Latin root of the the word photography, writing with light or maybe painting with light is still what the term implies.

For me photographers that above all others show that they have understood the meaning of that term are Robert Capa with his famous photograph of a Republican Militiaman meeting his death, caught in midair by Capa's lens.

And of course Henri Cartier Bresson during his wanderings through Paris (and Spain), Ansel Adams and Burtynsky with his photo series of ships being transformed into scrap metal on India's beaches, and last but not least Robert Mapplethorpe..whether it be his photo of Andy Warhol, or his male nudes. These artists all had their own time enduring vision of what photography meant to them, how to "paint" with "light" and arrest that light on a flat surface like some kind of geological deposit, a moment in time stopped in it's tracks...
René-Frank,

Although it sounds poetic, few photographers really "paint with light! In commercials, fashion and portrait photography, they do that but most other photographers hunt for the right scene like a lion stalks its prey at the appropriate time to make the kill. To say the photographer "Paints" with light is akin to saying the lion "seduces" the deer!

Choosing what and how to photograph what's actually there: Robert Capa didn't paint with light. He and Cartier Bresson doggedly discovered, chased and chose what to photograph.

Lighting a Subject he posed:Robert Mapplethorpe, perhaps then "painted" with light

Posing a Subject someone else photoshops/retouches:Annie Leibovitz

Waiting for the right light: then adding and removing grain with a knife, extensive over or under exposure, changes in development, drawing on negatives: Ansel Adams. (He would have been a master at Photoshop).

So I'd say, outside of commercial, fashion, weddings and the like, having selected the subject, the lighting of the subject is just what "happens". There's no alteration of the light at all so one can't talk of "painting"! Most street, reporting and landscape photographers merely get the timing right! The sky might paint with light. The photographer then just opportunistically turns up at the right time! That's no technical feat, just a hunting tactic.

However, "Painting with Light" might might apply to careful portrait and still life work where light is chosen shaped and and modified just for for the subject by bringing the light to the subject or the subject to the light. For example, bring a person to the window at a particular distance and position and controlling reflections, might fit in with this romantic concept.

So what is "Photography" then, if not "Painting with Light"? It's rather mundane. Somehow light energy has to be captured, transposed (actually by energizing electrons) which can recorded in proportion to the intensity variation of light over the exposed photosensitive area. So we can now provide a clearer definition of what photography is.

I'd say that photography is a photoelectric process of recording light reflections from an interesting subject and its subsequent development into a picture that represents the physicality of the subject and perhaps related ideas and feelings. The most impressive such pictures provide so strong experience that people seek them out.


Now what are the requirements to be a photographer worthy of the title? Well, for a start, look at Maris' conditions in my next post.

Asher
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  #27  
Old November 12th, 2008, 11:43 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Default Standards for Photography to be considered as reputable art work?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maris Rusis View Post
The same standards should apply to photographs as apply to other reputable art work:

1. The work in question is an actual photograph, not merely something that looks like a photograph, and is identifiable as a specific medium on a specific substrate eg gelatin-silver photograph on fibre/baryta base.
1. The work in question is executed by the photographer.
2. The work is in good physical condition and archival enough to accumulate a consensus of acclaim.
3. The photographer has an extended body of work and a history of creativity confirming that they are not a student, beginner, experimenter, dilettante, or one shot wonder.
4. The photograph is what the photographer intended.

Most things put up as photographs in the art world do not verifiably meet those standards.

Curiously the aspects that preoccupy most picture posters in on-line forums, what's it of and what's it look like, are irrelevant. One would surely credit a respected photographer with the ability to select appropriate subject matter and render it the desired way.

None of the above connects to whether a picture is liked or not. Some great photographs, Frederick Sommer's chicken entrails for example, I would not hang on my sitting room wall.
Hi Maris,

From your own work, you try to meet these standards. That's exemplary.

So how many respected photographers collected in the major galleries would fail these requirements?

Asher
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  #28  
Old July 13th, 2009, 02:26 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Let me bring this challenge back to you for your updates. What makes a photograph worthy of been called "Fine Art", to be respected, admired, referenced, collected and shown in galleries?

What are you thoughts? Is Maris too strict. Must the work be archival? Must it be what the photographer "Intended"? What are your minimum expectations?

Asher
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Old July 13th, 2009, 03:12 PM
Michael Fontana Michael Fontana is offline
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Asher

Fine Art hangs in Fine Art galleries -
Art hangs in Art galleries
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  #30  
Old July 19th, 2009, 09:15 AM
Rene F Granaada Rene F Granaada is offline
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Default Archival silver gelatin?

Most of Maris' criteria are not too strict, however the last part of his defenition "a specific medium on a specific substrate eg gelatin-silver photograph on fibre/baryta base" can in my view be a basis for discussion. Can an inkjet print, however sophisticated, qualify? With proper framing I think it can. Would a print like that need to be restored in let's say 200 years? Who knows, quite a few classic paintings of great masters have qualified for restoration, which work was subsequently caried out by professionals. Maybe we will see specialists in the future that are masters in restoration not of gelatin-silver photographs but of digital prints as produced today on professional photo printers.

René-Frank
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