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Art, what is it? Style!?!

Monday, June 20, 2011
This is a continued discussion from the Art in Photography tutorial

The digital photo bellow can be considered art. It has a style. It asks you to step into an unusual scene. Photographic art has many meanings but I think creating a style for yourself is how you create interesting art.

Since the day I took this photo I have loved the series. If you pixel peep you will see flaws. The shadows have enormous amounts of noise because it was shot at ISO 800 on a Nikon D200. The dynamic range was far to great for the camera so I decided to ETTL (expose to the left) in order to keep the highlights from blowing out but this also blocked up the shadows. Yet, there is still something about the photo. There is a photographic artistic style.

To me, Art is about the irony of life and the imperceptibility of understanding why we are here. I always have a feeling there is something more. That there is a veil blocking people from seeing everything about the universe. In turn, we hide the deepest parts of ourselves behind an identity mask. As a photographer, my job is to peek behind the veil, behind the mask of people and life. To find the honest nature of someones personality through from their body language and facial expressions. The photos of life and the world around us should be about nothing and everything. A photo where the viewer can place their most precious feelings into or discover something new they have never felt before. In a way, Art and photography is not about a thing, or about an object but is about a thought that leads to a feeling. At least that is MY artistic photographic style. There are plenty of them out there to choose from.

So is this Art?

art digital photography style

Photography style may be indefinable in a global sense. But if you find yourself stagnant in artistic development then try to cultivate a personal philosophy about Art. It can never be wrong. All the pixel peepers and technique gurus (or slaves as one might call them) are expressing an artistic style. One that calls for extreme levels of photography technique. That is their choice. I am fortunate to live in New York City where many of the greatest photography prints are on display at any one time. There is nothing like seeing a real print from a master photographer. Their style really comes out and it has something indefinable about it.

I will never forget the day that I was photographing the interior of a NYC apartment with huge wildlife photography prints from a famous photographer. They were fabulous and I enjoyed looking at the many different safari animals. I stepped into the kitchen and to my left, on the wall was a small print, about 11x8.5 inches. It was the most fabulous photo in the whole house. I looked closer and thought it was a Henry Cartier-Bresson street scene photo because of the style (after asking the owners this was confirmed). I had never seen this particular one and the composition was brilliant. You could tell it was not photographed with the same technically intricate level of photography equipment we have now. Probably a 50mm lens and a Leica camera as it looked from that era of street photojournalism.

What I am saying is: there is a point, when all the finest equipment in the world means nothing and your best art photographs will be made because of your photographic style. Studying art technique, composition, and the language of visual symbols may be the best thing any photographer can do after understanding the mechanics of a digital camera. Like I said before. There is no "CORRECT" digital photography style, just technique. There are plenty to choose from if you study Art History. As an artist, after finding your style, the next step is to add to the historical visual language that all the masters have explored.


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