Where is the line between appeal and art in photography?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Illah, Nov 30, 2006.

  1. Illah

    Illah TPF Noob!

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    So Flickr has raised some questions for me. Maybe I'm just being cynical, but I've noticed that while some great photos are seen on a daily basis, some so-so stuff makes it to the top because:

    1. It involves a hot girl.
    2. Someone does something 'cute'
    3. Someone includes a long poem or other excessive description which draws comments and whatnot, driving it up the list.

    So my questions is one that bugged me in film school also - where do you think the line between art and appealing to an audience is?

    After all, pretentious art that very few people 'get' can in many ways be considered poor in my opinion. I've always thought that art should be more accessible. Some great works are immediately impressive even to lay people.

    But at the same time, crap can impress a whole lot of people...

    Thoughts?

    --Illah
     
  2. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    First, let's divorce the discussion of art from the concept of popularity. It simply does not compute. Tiny Tim was very popular a few years ago. Would you consider his singing to be artistic? Or even 'great?' Go to any flea market and you'll find paintings on black velvet selling like hot cakes. Do you judge them to be art?

    With that out of the way, art is recognizable as such because it has something to say to us, usually [though not always] something deeper than 'Isn't this beautiful!' In some mediums, notably music, it's even possible to identify the 'voice' of a great artist. Mere likeness to reality, the prime forte [accent acute] of the camera, is not necessarily a part of art. A trompe l'oeil painting is not judged solely on its agreement with visual reality.

    Any discussion of art should also include some reference to aesthetics, for the two concepts are inextricably joined.
     
  3. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Some photography is art but not very much of it. When I was a commercial photographer I didn't think of myself as an artist at all. I viewed myself as a technician whose job it was to fulfill a client's work order. Some of my images were beautiful and pleasing but they were all commercial. Some of them included attractive models but there wasn't anything artistic about them. They were what the client wanted. It doesn't make it good or bad. But it doesn't make it art either.

    Photographers who engage in art are few and far between. Most are amateurs. They often become more famous than commercial photographers but they don't make as much money. For the most part, I appreciate and enjoy their work. But I also appreciate the work of good commercial shooters. Photography doesn't have to be art to be good.
     
  4. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    Im going to vote that:
    IM A GREAT ARTIST AND YOU AREN'T....

    before you bar and ban me from the site thats what most people think deep inside. The truth is most of us are in the Aren't list, but once in a while we slip one into the are list.
     
  5. rmh159

    rmh159 TPF Noob!

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    LOL so sadfully true.

    From my own point of view... I think the question is extremely vague and will always be. How does one define art and really... does it even matter??? In regards to your flikr situation... popularity has absolutely nothing to do with quality. I think Boy Bands prove that theory as well as anyone can.

    I totally agree that probably 99% of the pics out there aren't art... they're snap shots. Like mysteryscribe said, the passion we all crave is the idea that once in awhile we'll hit one out of the park and it'll be "art" or close enough that we're satisfied with our efforts.

    Again, it's just my opinion but my expectations of myself as a photographer isn't to produce "art" it's just to produce an image that I can look at and be happy with. If others share that same enthusiasm about my work... awesome. That's probably as far into the "art" argument as I care to go.

    My two cents.
     
  6. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    On antique road show a couple of years ago a man brouth in a stone burial urn from almost the time of christ. They told him unenthusiastically that it was worth about 75 bucks. Just not a market for burial urns you know.

    The very next item was an original (how the hell you can tell I have no idea) Barbee doll. It was worth over three hundred bucks. I remember that story whenever I say or do something that isn't in the mainstread of todays thinking.

    I would rather have the urn with a flower in it, than a Barbee doll I would just have to put in the microwave anyway.
     
  7. neea

    neea TPF Noob!

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    That's a very unique comparison.
    I would have to agree that I'd rather have the urn.
    Really.. it's about emotion for me.
    I call it art if it strikes an emotion.
    An 'original' barbie wont strike much emotion unless you were one of those girly girls (god know i am not!!) and it reminds you of the one your grandfather baught for you, or something like that.

    Anyways, I think to be art it needs to strike an emotion.
    Which is why I can say subject A is art and you could disagree and think that subject B is art.
    It all depends on who it strikes that emotion with.

    I've had trouble selling my pictures as 'art' and I constantly tell myself that it's simply because I havent found someone who sees in them what I see (or maybe its something i say to make myself sleep at night).

    Bottom line, I think art is about emotion.
    At least for me
     
  8. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    There is an old saying among old photographers. People buy photos of themselves, their family, their friends, and their things, but only now and then anything else.

    If you want to make consistant money in photography, you need to whore yourself out to that principle. Now I know somebody is going to say but I read an article about a guy who makes half a million selling pictures of butterflies.

    Yeah and I know a thousand who are cab drivers but have a room full of equally good pictures all framed up waiting for someone to buy.
     
  9. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    For one, art has no place in a material world. On average people spend more on their passport photos than any other kind of photography.

    Two:
    To be able to appreciate art, one needs education, which the masses will never succeed in attaining. It is only logical then, that the art will be able to be appreciated only by select few. And it is axiomatic that popular is mediocre.

    A caveman will be able to appreciate the female form. And the caveman will probably rate it quite highly.
     
  10. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    "Everything popular is wrong"
    Oscar Wilde
     
  11. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    ah but not everything wrong is popular
     
  12. rmh159

    rmh159 TPF Noob!

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    Hahaha not sure I can agree with this one.

    Like this discussion... art is extremely subjective. To one it's an emotional connection, to another it's an aquired skill. Everyone defines it differently. The thing to remember is it's different to everyone and not worth stressing. That's my opinion.

    You can rip your hair out all day cuz Nsync makes millions while there are amazing bands EVERYWHERE struggling to sell 5 tickets but you can't change people's tastes. It is what it is.
     

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