the above is an example of a fine art photo, if i may be so bold as to suggest that. it is blurry, out of focus, devastatingly cool, titled “untitled no.1” and you probably don’t get it.
i took the photo above while on a “photowalk” around school with yusuf earlier. to be honest, the only thing that went through my head before i adjusted the settings, framed the shot and squeezed the button was “hey, i think that will make an interesting picture!”. aiya… there, i just outted myself, dang.
i then half-mockingly (i was half-serious) tried to justify why i shot the photo the way i did (artistic statement) – city boy (in skinny pants and white sneakers) treads the line between his urban life (represented by the asphalt) and his desire for a return to nature, to a simpler place (the grassy side).
yeah, right. yusuf didn’t buy it. i didn’t either.
so we have heard of how art, in this case the photograph, can mean so many things to different people. isn’t great when the creator of the same photograph can ascribe so many different interpretations to it, and after the fact? better still, that same guy probably felt something and just wanted to shoot a pretty picture.
it seems like discussions about photography inevitably lead to the topic of fine art photography, and along with that the requisite ridicule and disparagement of that genre. i won’t pretend to “get it”. i am not a fine art student, and i don’t think you will see me rushing to join an art school anytime soon. my only academic exposure to fine art so far was to take the digital darkroom course at adm, conducted by an artist who explained that fine art can be any form of expression, provided that the vision is clear from the start and every step and detail of the process deliberate.
all this so that people can interpret his/her work however they wish. sounds complex and difficult. who makes these definitions anyway? who wants to live by them?
having said all that, i have to confess that i can be constantly found eating my own words (binging on them, as a matter of fact), so you never know.
i guess it is so easy for us to dismiss what we cannot comprehend. there is a matter though that i can’t understand, nor can i dismiss, and that is the notion that photographers have to be labeled this and that – fine art photographer, portrait photographer, press photographer, still-life photographer, documentary photographer, corporate photographer, pet photographer, fashion photographer, landscape photographer, the list goes on…
why can’t a photographer be just a photographer?
the conventional advice is that if you want to make a living at this, you can’t afford to be everything to everyone. if you really want to become good at a particular something, you got to devote all your energy to it.
but then, there are those who say that in a small photography market like singapore, you got to do a little of everything, even if that means selling your soul and murdering your conscience. who to listen to?
the solution? get out of singapore, become a fine art photographer and starve for the first few years. then win a couple of awards and get noticed by a wealthy patron or a gallerist such as james danziger. then you are all set for life.
since we are moving into rather controversial (and dangerous) territory here, i shall defuse the tension by showing you a nice sunset picture and ending this post.
“untitled no.3” (why is there an ugly canal in the scene? ans: fine art, baby)
for more on my thoughts, click here.