A client forwarded me this article saying: “Erika, I thought of you when I read this article. You truly are an artist :)” It was such a complement and validation for the passion and effort we put into every day at the studio – plus I think this is an interesting take on what it means to be an artist. Here is the paraphrased article:
“I feel that we are living in the time of the artist. And we can stretch that term from the old meaning of ‘fine artist’ making art for art’s sake to all of us making what we do into art, or doing what we do with an artisan’s touch.
The baker at my local grocery store is an artist. Yep, she makes a lot of simple things like bages and donuts, but if you need something done to exacting standards, she can knock it out of the park. And – she does it for the love of doing it well. She is a salaried employee, but she bakes like an artist.
Artists do things for reasons other than simply getting a paycheck. They take a certain pride in their work that pushes it from beyond good to a place of excellence, a place of rarity. A place that people recognize as the best of the best.
Photography has been maligned for years as not being a REAL art form. After all it is something created with a machine that nearly anyone can learn to operate. There are no painter machines or poetry machines or handmade violin machines.
But we do have machines for making photographs. And they become more sophisticated each and every year. From the introduction of the Kodak Brownie – the camera for everyone – to the latest wizbang filled DSLR, the technology of the machine has made it easier and easier to make good photographs.
Or has it?
The machines are better at focusing, the lenses are sharper, the film has more nuances, the sensors more detailed, the experience more refined.
But does the machine make the art? Or is it simply the tool that shapes the art that is made inside the head of the artist?
Of course it is the latter – although the marketers do their damndest to make us believe that it is the new wizbang filled tool that makes it better. We know that because people who are not involved in the making of photographs will often say to us “great photographs – you must have a really great camera.”
I know that some folks get really irritated at that exclamation, but I never do. It is what they are conditioned to think, so I just smile and say yes, I do.
Look – there are a lot of photographers who also believe it is somehow the camera you use that is the defining part of your ‘art’ so how can I blame the layperson for believing the marketing hype and other big name photographers?
And the people creating these images are as diverse as they possibly can be – from photojournalists to fine artists to commercial photographers to those who simply like to show people what they are eating for lunch.
In other words, we have artists of all kinds using this medium to express themselves, or ideas, or even simply sharing something with friends.
They are photographers. All of them.
But they may not be artists.
The artist part comes when the decision is made to make those images with a personal intonation and reflection. When simply pushing the button is not enough, and we want to make the image better and better and better we go from photographer to artist.
And our clients know it. Our viewers know it. We know it.”