Beauty is in the eye of the beholder they say and one person’s masterpiece is another’s pointless mess. In the past, I had lost my eye for what was art or of interest by second-guessing my initial reaction to a scene and questioning how I can sell instead of simply capturing what naturally appeals to the artist’s eye. No, I have not permanently sold out, just have learned how subtle and transient the artist eye can be and how quickly we can lose sight of why we started the process of seeing like an artist in the first place.
I have narrowed down how I shoot to four basic reasons. First and most simple is the snapshot-to capture the scene for posterity, no need for perfection even though perfection always tends to be the artists intention. Capture what you see and save a moment, no filters, no adjusting, just for fun and nothing more. The next reason is to document for the sake of a future painting, this image is just to capture objects and fragments of an overall scene for the sake of future rendering-I shoot many water and sky scenes for this purpose. The third reason is just for the pure beauty. This option is somewhat more of a challenge than it would seem and it’s harder to shoot for me when the beauty is overwhelming. In this case you are photographing something that so many weekend enthusiasts, cell phone snapping, selfie indulging novices as well as professionals will shoot in varying degrees of quality and perfection. Photo manipulation, color correction and post processing can make a good photo a great photo but the work has already been done for you by mother nature and all you can do is show the depth and beauty of the colors on a flat plane as well as your range of skills can afford you.
The fourth reason for shooting a photograph is the reason for this post, it’s the intangible shapes and textures that the artist would see but the skilled photographer might just pass by for the sake of shooting at the highest skill level the beauty of nature or whatever their particular interest would have them shoot. From an artist standpoint you would think this would be easy because it comes natural but the artist eye is often fleeting which brings us back to one mans’ art is another’s pointless mess. There was a time when I would shoot images of trees, or minimalist shapes and patterns in an effort to capture that artistic image that would amaze my viewer. I failed on so many levels, it’s your passion that drives the image, if you have no passion for a bunch of rocks or trees that create an interesting pattern you will capture that image perfectly and has to explain to your viewer why what you shot was so interesting and should be admired.
Here is the difference and the dilemma of shooting for the sense of art and shooting with passion. I don’t believe the photographer or artist should have to explain to the layman why the image they captured is a work of art, it should be understood even if the viewer isn’t quite sure why the image captures their attention or begs for a second look there is an intangible curiosity that keeps the viewer engaged. The interest and engagement depends first by the varying degrees of interest and passion shared by the viewer and the artist so many photos that might be amazing to the artist may lack the interest for the viewer that has no interest in the subject matter, this is where art is so subjective.
There is a level of art that I believe transcends that subjective notion of art and creativity
And goes beyond the interest. The viewer regardless of their interests or intention cannot help to be moved by the work, many masters have achieved this level of success. To me, there is this haunted feeling or a moment where you feel like you have interrupted something and you are an audience to something that draws emotion from somewhere you didn’t even realize you possessed. This is the artist at work and this is where I seek to achieve, it is the artists job to explain and show the reason why something moved them without ever having to explain why, this is the greatness that I strive for and it is a great achievement when a viewer is engaged when they don’t even realize why. To speak to a viewer an emotion or an intangible aspect with only an image is an incredible accomplishment and that which makes the pointless mess, the masterpiece.