Art Rant #1

Sunrise on the Snow

November 27, 2010

This past week, I went to an art gallery show opening of paintings and photography.  I didn’t stay long.

As I slowly discover how I like to approach my moments of creativity and my style in photographic artistry, I try to take advantage of any photographer’s show in order to see what I can learn.  Up to now I have tried to understand different approaches to many different photographers’ creativity and style, and to humbly accept that I have something to learn from them. 

At the show last week I did look at the paintings, but my interest was the photographs.  Standing in front of one photograph after another, trying to be open-minded to an unfamiliar form of creativity, I found my emotions going from curiosity, to confusion, to despair, and finally to annoyance.

As I viewed the blurred, flat-toned, and erratically-coloured images presented on very small prints, I wondered why the photographer hadn’t taken a short course in drawing or painting and learned how to produce equally bad sketches or paintings.  Why bother with all the cost of the technology used to make those insignificant images out of photographs, photographs that appeared to be presented as paintings?

I found my inner voice telling me that I no longer need to stretch my imagination in order to understand what a poor photograph is trying to convey.  Furthermore, that inner voice told me that I have the right, and now the ability, to decide what, for me, is a good photograph.

Despite last week’s experience, I will continue to go to galleries to see the works of good painters and good photographers.  Creative images, drawn or photographed, inspire me, but my interest in the in the associated technical creativity seems to have waned.  Probably that is because it is so well looked after in these days of digital technology.

Now I can focus on what matters.  I sense I am closing in on understanding who I am as a photographer.


“Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value.”

Ken Robinson

“We perceive upon the loveliness of paper a registration in monochrome of tonal and tactile values far more subtle than any which the human hand can record.  We discover as well, the actuality of a new sensitivity of line as finely expressive as any the human hand can draw.  And, we note……, without resort to the imbecilic use of soft focus or uncorrected lenses, or to processes in which manual manipulation may be introduced.  Nay more, we see that the use of such lenses or processes weakens or destroys entirely the very elements which distinguish photography and may make it an expression.”

Paul Strand (1890-1976) 
From his paper
‘Photography AND Photography and the New God’