Sunday, March 11, 2012

The nusance of a pet peeve

As an artist, I create art works. As a portrait artist I make works about people.
As photography is my chosen medium, I take photographs of people.

But, over the past few months I have truly discovered the ignorance of people, who, unbeknownst to them, don’t understand what fine art photography is all about.
If you get a painting, the person who modelled for it will exclaim, “What’s-his-name did a good job painting me.”
If you get a sculpture, the person who modelled for it will say, “So-and-so did a fabulous job, I’m proud to have been involved.”
If you get a drawing, the person modelling for it will declare, “The way the artist can capture me with a pencil is astounding.”

But with a photographer, they get from the model, “That’s my face.”

Well, I hate to burst your bubbles, but if it is a fine art photograph, then it has nothing to do with you. This is becoming a pet peeve of mine, and I think it about time I addressed it.
You’re probably thinking that sounds selfish and self-centred, but hang on a minute while I explain.

“Fine art photography refers to photographs that are created in accordance with the creative vision of the photographer as artist. Fine art photography stands in contrast to photojournalism (which provides visual support for news stories, mainly in the print media) and commercial photography (the primary focus of which is to advertise products or services).” (From Wikipedia)

If you model for a fine art photograph, then the end image is not about you. It doesn’t reference you as a person; it doesn’t include your interests, hobbies or attitudes. The end image is about a much larger issue, the “bigger picture” if you will. You may very well support the concept, you may even have help develop the idea in the artists head, BUT that doesn’t mean you get to ignore that fact that the photograph is the artist’s work. You may have to hold a pose, but they have to come up with an idea, a location, a way of lighting the image, a costume, the makeup, the hair, they then have to take the image, then edit the works, then name it, then print it. There’s more work involved then just pressing a button and making you look pretty.
The artist may include your opinions and your ideas to get a final piece, but chances are the artist already knew what they were doing, even if they don’t say much. You also have to remember that no two people see that same object the same way. Especially with fine art, it could be more about capturing the light then your face, which makes it even less about you as the model.

The art of photography is more than just what is in the image, it’s about how it makes you feel, what you can’t see and the concept, and the more I branch out of my comfort zone, the more I have been discovering the ignorance of people, and the genuine confusion of trying to explain that you may be in the image, but it is not you!
You see, a fine art photographer is not trying to capture a singular person, but is trying to capture an image that connects a group of people together. Imagine a room full of people listening to the same song; in the same way they are connected, a fine art photographer is trying to connect people with their work.

If you want a pretty picture that’s all about you from someone who says they are fine art, then be prepared to fork out some money, because it will cost you.

So maybe, from now on, when you work for a fine art photographer, and you see then end result; perhaps instead of whining, “But I’m not like that, I don’t look like that in reality,” or proudly uploading the artists work on the net, telling everyone, “Look at the work I did. Aren’t I beautiful? Did you see my face?”, you’ll think, “wow, I’m so glad I got to be a bigger part of Such-and-such’s works” or “Doesn’t Such-and-such photograph me beautifully” or “Did you see Such-and-such’s photograph of me”, because after all, just because it looks like you, doesn’t mean it is you...

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