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Photography: The World's Most Disrespected Art
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October 2012   Better Pictures   Nikon   Canon    Fuji    LEICA   All Reviews


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One day it dawned on me: Photography is the world's most disrespected art, even among its own students!

The whole world knows that every art form: painting, sculpture, motion pictures, industrial design, architecture, writing, music and so on require quite a bit of work to create anything.

Not only does every art form require a lot of work to realize a vision, in order to create anything of value, there also has to be that overriding vision guiding the artist to whatever it is he's creating in the first place. Art is the expression of imagination. To express our visions clearly, it takes a lot of forethought, planning, and work in execution, and always requires the artistic vision first.

No vision, no art. Without vision anyone can create things that look like art, but there won't be any soul. What makes a boring movie? No story. Boring painting? Nothing to show.

Do you pick up a camcorder and grab some friends as actors and just shoot a movie? No, everyone knows you need a story worth telling, written as a script so you can plan what and how you'll shoot when, and how you're going to put it all together so the story makes sense.

We all know you don't just sit in front of a typewriter and have a great novel or poem pop out after just fiddling with the keys for a bit. You have to have an idea of what you're trying to say: that's the artistic vision or imagination. Knowing everything about every brand and model of typewriter and how it works is of no value; having something to say it.

We all know you just don't read online chat rooms to select the best brands of canvas, oils and brushes, and once obtained, just sit down and fiddle with them for a while and great paintings pop out. You have to know what you want to paint.

You don't research clay and tools, buy them and have sculptures spring forth.

Every kind of art demands a vision; some piece of imagination which is going to be rendered into tangible form. The rendering is the trivial part, and the creation of the idea which will be rendered into art is the critical part.

Herein is where photography gets the short straw, even by its own practitioners: the whole world thinks photography is easy simply because it's much easier to snap a picture than make a sculpture.

Yes, it is trivial to take a picture, but it isn't art, and isn't any good, until you have a vision first. You can't just go snapping away promiscuously and expect to sort it out later. You can't just buy a fancy camera, snap away, and expect results to create themselves after jacking around with them in a computer for hours.

The way to create good photos is to have an idea, and think about what you're doing long before you snap the shutter.

In every art form, it all comes down to FARTing first. The reason other art forms get more respect is because they demand you put in a little bit of effort before you can create the final result. Photography attracts many crummy participants because any moron can, and does, take pictures.

What separates the good stuff from the bad stuff is how much thought went into the work before it's created. Yes, we always can tweak things afterwards, but the biggest thing that matters is the mental effort that goes into the work before the shutter is snapped. Too many photo students today, as always, are so overwhelmed by the technique and computer BS that they never come to realize that all the technique does is help you render your vision in tangible form. Having and refining that vision in the first place, what you are going to render, is far more important than how you render it.

Respect photography. It takes work to do well. It's not easy, and it doesn't matter what sort of camera you have. The more time you spend researching tools, the easy part, the less time you'll have to create anything of value.

Knowing your tools is OK, but mandatory is to know what you want to accomplish with them before you start running around and snapping everything for no good reason.


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Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.


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