What makes a photographer a Master Photographer in today's day and age?

itsanaddiction

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I was once told that photographers were masters because their prints were perfect on so many different levels - composition, lighting, printing quality, etc.

With mainly everything being digital these days, what makes a photographer a Master Photographer? Fewer people print - so you can barely say printing techniques - anyone can learn to photoshop what they want, etc. So what makes one a master?
 

Garbz

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Marketing I'm sorry to say. Your skills may make you an incredible photographer, but to be remembered you need to release expose your name. Photography used to be an art reserved for the artists who dedicated their life to it, like Ansell Adams. But these days with about half of the worlds population owning a camera, about half of the camera owners calling themselves photographers just to belong to a group despite only taking snapshots and posting on flickr, the only way to be remembered as a photographer is to market that image.
 

Alex_B

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I was once told that photographers were masters because their prints were perfect on so many different levels - composition, lighting, printing quality, etc.

actually, these still today are the deciding factors (of course the list is not complete), ... why do you thing digital has changed anything there?

In addition to that, to be considered to be one of the great ones, you have to be different, have your own style, do something others don't.

With mainly everything being digital these days, what makes a photographer a Master Photographer? Fewer people print - so you can barely say printing techniques - anyone can learn to photoshop what they want, etc. So what makes one a master?

Anyone can learn the darkroom just as anyone can learn photoshop. It is just that only few people do really learn it :lmao:

And digital printing these days is also an art in itself as you can see by the many poor prints ;)
 

bapp

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My opinion of a master has less to do with the technical side or marketing as it was mentioned above and more to do with ideas.

Any body can become a technically superb "photographer" however that certainly does not qualify them as a master. Most of the photographers I have researched who are regarded as masters certainly have the technical side of photography nailed, however it is not that which determines their status. It is there ability to convey information and ideas that others cannot that is recognized by the critics of the world.

Even those who do not produce technically perfect images can still be regarded as masters. Henri Cartier-Bresson for example, didnt even print his own images.

The idea that marketing some how determines a master is nonsense all the promotion in the world will not allow you into that elite group if your pictures are poor.
 

Joves

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I dont think you get the master status till you are either dead or, near dead. I think that you reach that if you shoot pics that affect people, when they view them. It isnt a case of just shooting good or, great pics but, phenomenal ones.
 

dipstick

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I was once told that photographers were masters because their prints were perfect on so many different levels - composition, lighting, printing quality, etc.

With mainly everything being digital these days, what makes a photographer a Master Photographer? Fewer people print - so you can barely say printing techniques - anyone can learn to photoshop what they want, etc. So what makes one a master?

Anyone can learn to push the buttons in PS, but that does not mean they have the right visual understanding to make their images better. In my opinion there is no difference if people use PS or a traditional darkroom to make their prints.

But photography is a process that consist of a lot more than just making the final print. Although the workflow is digital nowadays, the criteria for mastering photography has not really changed.
 

kundalini

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It is there ability to convey information and ideas that others cannot that is recognized by the critics of the world.

The idea that marketing some how determines a master is nonsense all the promotion in the world will not allow you into that elite group if your pictures are poor.


Aren't these two statements mutually inclusive. How can an artist be recognized by the critics of the world if some amount of marketing had not been employed.

The pigeon-holes of good, poor, ugly, distasteful, irrelevant, awesome, beautiful, inspiring, repressive or any number of subjective terms can be cast on any of the purported masters are all equally inconsequential unless a recognition exists. This recognition, for lack of a better term, is marketing.
 

bapp

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Aren't these two statements mutually inclusive. How can an artist be recognized by the critics of the world if some amount of marketing had not been employed.

The pigeon-holes of good, poor, ugly, distasteful, irrelevant, awesome, beautiful, inspiring, repressive or any number of subjective terms can be cast on any of the purported masters are all equally inconsequential unless a recognition exists. This recognition, for lack of a better term, is marketing.

My point was based on a previous comment that marketing was what determined a "master". I was stating that no amount of marketing can put you into that category. For lack of a better phrase "you cant polish a turd".

Obviously for a photographer to be known as a master they will need recognition, but if nobody had ever heard of Ansel Adams and he put all his photos in a loft he would still be a master!!
 

JC1220

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My opinion of a master has less to do with the technical side or marketing as it was mentioned above and more to do with ideas.

Any body can become a technically superb "photographer" however that certainly does not qualify them as a master. Most of the photographers I have researched who are regarded as masters certainly have the technical side of photography nailed, however it is not that which determines their status. It is there ability to convey information and ideas that others cannot that is recognized by the critics of the world.

If you are talking about any other type of photograpy other than fine art, have all the ideas you want. Otherwise, truely fine art photography has nothing to do with ideas, nor did the masters such as Weston, Callahan, Coburn, White have any intention of conveying ideas with their photographs. One of the primary reasons they are considered Masters is/was their ability to connect with the viewer through their photographs, stir a deep emotional response not unlike what they felt when making the picture and their ability to see completely is what sets them apart.

Leave the notion that art is about ideas in school.
 

bapp

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If you are talking about any other type of photograpy other than fine art, have all the ideas you want. Otherwise, truely fine art photography has nothing to do with ideas, nor did the masters such as Weston, Callahan, Coburn, White have any intention of conveying ideas with their photographs. One of the primary reasons they are considered Masters is/was their ability to connect with the viewer through their photographs, stir a deep emotional response not unlike what they felt when making the picture and their ability to see completely is what sets them apart.

Leave the notion that art is about ideas in school.

I agree with some of what you are saying...

"It is there ability to convey information and ideas" my quote

By information I mean this to include emotions created by there work. By ideas I include the initial process of creating an image, be it fine art or not, photographs are created.

I really do not know enough about fine art or fine art photography to comment fully. I do know that creating an image requires thought processes regardless of it's genre.

I find it impossible to believe that Weston shot those stunning portraits without a thought of composition view point tonal range a message or emotion to convey!! Surely it would have been integral to the whole process?

But then again that could be why I am not a "master"
 

JC1220

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I really do not know enough about fine art or fine art photography to comment fully. I do know that creating an image requires thought processes regardless of it's genre.

I find it impossible to believe that Weston shot those stunning portraits without a thought of composition view point tonal range a message or emotion to convey!! Surely it would have been integral to the whole process?

Since this is not really on topic anymore, I won't go too heavy on this:

The creation of fine art, a photograph, should certainly be informed by intelligence, but it is not lead by a specific thought process it is always by feel and intuition, never analytical.

No, Weston did not compose in the sense that composition is typically defined as, for him it was all about seeing and the ability to see the whole and be able to extract the parts for his pictures, a very differenct process than most approach it.

I suggest you get a copy of Weston's Day Books, you seem to have much interest in photography.
 

bapp

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I suggest you get a copy of Weston's Day Books, you seem to have much interest in photography.

I'll check my library at skool.... haha just a little snipe back at ya!

Yeh my Uni has a massive photography collection and I will certainly check it out! It is a concept I am not familiar with!
 

shundaroni

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There won't be any more masters, at least not for a while. Photography is too available...too widespread. It's lost it's luster with the population at large, partly due to it's prevalence and partly due to the perception that was voiced in the original post: anyone with photoshop can make great art.

Of course, the premise of that second part is faulty and has been shown to be such in this thread, but nonetheless it is still public opinion. Each of us is likely guilty of perpetuating it too. Have you ever seen a good photo while browsing the internet or looking through a magazine and thought to yourself, "Oh I see what he did there...a little curves adjustment" or "I would burned a little more around the eyes"? I'm sure we've all at least thought, "Hmmm...I could do better." That last thought is at the root of the issue.

People aren't as impressed by great photography because they figure, with the right equipment, they could do it just as well. So we start to equate "good photography" with nothing more than access to money and the equipment it can buy.

Hell, if Ansel Adams was publishing those photos today, he wouldn't be credited as a master. It was the process of photography and the chronological context that made his photography phenomenal.
 

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