My favorite thing about photography is the creative process behind every photo. Every picture that I take allows me to showcase the world the way I see it in my minds eye. From raw unedited images to carefully composed images and even images that have been edited to the point of fantasy. They are subjects captured, edited, and displayed the way that I believe they should be.
Portrait photography such as weddings, engagement sessions, newborns, etc…as well as product photography and promotional work are all types of photography that most certainly have rules. Composition, lighting and point of view are very important. You are creating these images with a certain client in mind that most likely has a very specific vision and as a hired photographer it is your job to make sure that their vision is realized. But Fine art photography is a different story. The definition of fine art has nothing to do with the quality of the image but everything to do with the intended audience. It is art that is made to hang in a gallery or private collection and created without a specific client in mind, it therefor has no rules. There are no good and bad photos and there is no right or wrong way to take a picture. You are only limited by your imagination. Whether you use thousands of dollars worth of gear or you shoot with an iPhone, it doesn’t matter. If your imagination is flowing then you can create just about anything. Just like with painting and music and every other art form out there, fine art photography is freedom of expression and art that tailors to the artist. The ability to create something and mold it and put your stamp on it is beautiful and it is what sets your work apart from the sea of replicas out there. 2 different people can capture the same subject but the outcome will never be identical because no 2 people see things the exact same way.
I am a huge fan of the all the Photoshop pros out there. They can turn any image into something straight out of a dream, and I find it fascinating. It is equivalent to taking a peek into the artist’s mind and seeing things the way they see them. It is brilliant and inspiring. Back before the days of Photoshop, people were able to do some pretty incredible things with plain old 35mm film and a dark room. One image that first inspired me to pursue photography was by Scott Mutter. I saw it in my photography class in high school when we were learning about double exposure. The man and the escalator became one of my all time favorite images. To think that someone did that with just a camera and a darkroom!? The creative process behind the final image! He must be some kind of genius, right!? Scott Mutter WAS a genius, all of his “surrational images” are amazing and defy the laws of physics yet every element belongs together. His images and his vision have taught me, if people tell you that your photos are “too photoshopped” or they aren’t good enough or blah blah blah , tell them to shove it! If that is the way you see the world then it is absolutely perfect just the way it is, and chances are they are just saying those things because they think their own images can’t compare or they are limited by their own imagination, or lack thereof.
There are plenty of critics out there but they are not important. When you create art, you should be your only critic. And the only person you should ever try to compete with is the person you were yesterday (that would be an internet quote). Keep growing and keep snapping away. The creative process is a learning process, forever evolving, and it only gets better and better.