Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Work of Heart...

   In a previous post, Photography, the Most Democratic of Mediums, I spoke about the various perceptions of photography in the art it "Art" (with a capital "A") or something else?  I struggle with this all the time.  The book I purchased in Paris this summer, "On Photography" by Susan Sontag, spends a great deal of time discussing this topic and I will probably be going back to this theme over the next few months. For today, I want to focus on the idea of the "fine art photographic print".

   Fine art photographers (as opposed to "commercial photographers" whose work is primarily for newspapers, magazines and other commercial applications) pride themselves in producing exquisitely printed pieces using expensive pigmented inks on rag papers.  They spend thousands of dollars and countless hours perfecting their craft.  Serious collectors and galleries expect no less.  I think there is nothing more beautiful that a finely printed photograph.  If we, as fine art photographers, want our work to be considered seriously than the print must be of the highest quality.   When I returned to photography after a 25 year hiatus in 2005, I toyed with the idea of joining their ranks but I must be honest, the expense and the technical skills required for such a venture were beyond me.  Instead, I employ a fine art printer to do the "work of art" and I concentrate on the "work of heart". 

Little Boy on a Bus - Japan, 2007
   Many people are intimidated by the technical considerations required in fine art photo printing.  Wading through a Photoshop instruction manual makes them panic and expensive digital SLR cameras are just not in their budget.  If you have been following this blog for any length of time you will probably know what my advice to those folks would be...relax!  The only requirement needed to be a contemplative photographer is the desire to explore the world around you, make sensitive and thoughtful images (with your cell phone camera if need be) and use them as a tool for personal reflection and meditation.  Your little inkjet prints may not wind up in the Museum of Modern Art but you can always find a fine art printer if the offer of an exhibition there arises.  (I'm still waiting for that offer but I'm not holding my breath!)  Don't let the fine art "purists" put down your efforts.  In the end, it is your relationship to your image that matters not the kind of paper it is printed on!  I've used the following quote before but it bears repeating...

"I'm always and forever looking for the image that has spirit! I don't give a damn how it got made!"  - Minor White


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