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Poll - As a photographer, do you consider yourself an artist?

Discussion in 'Weekly Poll' started by Chrissie_Lay, Mar 31, 2016.

  1. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Saw her Turner exhibit a few years back, WL, the one with the scribbles dominating the show. Best bit in it for me was the single (or were there two?) colour 6"x4" en-prints of a pond in a wood. Plus a couple of her sculptures. A superb bronze that I was itching to touch despite the 'Hands Orff!' notices.
  2. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Watson,

    And when the final product is a photograph, you're a photographer. If it's a sculpture, you're a sculptor; a painting, a painter. In all of them, you're a artist. What does it add to say, "an artist who uses photography" or "an artist who uses sculpture" or "an artist who uses paint"? I have artist friends who use all sorts of media, but most of them just call themselves "artists": they don't feel the need to hold their noses and distance themselves from dirty, smelly photographers.

    If photography is a step on the way to the final piece of art in another (the classic 19th century route in painting and sculpture) then the fact that you "use" photography matters only to those with an intense interest in your career. I mean, if I photograph a repair sequence on my Land Rover am I "a mechanic who uses photography"? Of course I am; but everyone "uses" photography as an aide-memoire or to explain step-by-steps. Either "an artist who uses...." is meaningless or it is a worthless piece of self-aggrandizement.

    Even with those who use collages, over-writing, etc., I am not convinced that "an artist who uses photography" is any more useful a phrase than "a photographer". What does it add? I might, but only might, make exceptions for those who "appropriate" (= steal) others' photos, but as I say, "only might".


  3. Watson Lavery

    Watson Lavery Member

    If I tell someone I'm an artist, in the absence of having any of my work to hand, then qualifying my statement by describing the media used is inevitable. Merely stating in conversation that I'm an artist might be self-aggrandisement. To answer the poll question more directly I would answer "yes, but it isn't only being a photographer that makes me an artist", just as being a photographer doesn't make you a mechanic.
    Geren likes this.
  4. Trannifan

    Trannifan Well-Known Member

    Well, well, well, Fine Art!? For some reason I've always understood 'Fine Art' to be more of a print style - all very clean and tidy. Perhaps a bit 'minimalist' if not to say japanese(?) as far as the picture style goes, to say nothing of being 'pin-sharp'.

    I've managed to flog a couple, which considering I've only had a couple of exhibitions, isn't bad going. Interestingly the sales were of pictures opposite the entrance to the show. The buyers came through the door, saw the picture(s) opposite them and immediately said "I want it!" (different pictures). Is there a lesson here!?
    If you mean sales via the web-site- no. All I've had there was an Art Gallery in New York(!) asking me if I wanted an exhibition. Since this was a 'first cross our palms with silver' set-up and the logistics were, in any case, over my head I declined the offer.

    Finding places to exhibit is a problem with many places giving preference to those penniless artists who've been to art school and got their diplomas. Then there are long waiting lists which is not really surprising. Still, the arts society I belong to has penciled me in for a three person show later this year or early next year so a sale or two may come out of that. What's the old expression, 'slowly slowly catchee monkee'?

  5. Trannifan

    Trannifan Well-Known Member

    Thinking about it, it's logical that there are no sales via my web-site. Prospective purchasers want to see a picture 1:1 and not at ca. A4 on a screen or as a 10x15 print in a ring-file.

  6. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    I read a quotation this morning which seemed apt. Something along the lines of "Dont' try to be an artist. Try to make work that has meaning for you. There might be art in it." Words to that effect anyway. Duane Michals. Seems fair enough to me.
    Andrew Flannigan likes this.
  7. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Not really. After all, you don't just rush up to people at random and say, "I am an artist!" Surely it is likelier that the conversation begins with other subjects; the subject of art comes up; someone asks what sort of work you do or media you use; and you tell them. If they don't ask, you may fairly assume that they are not interested.

    Also, why is is more self-aggrandizing to call yourself "an artist" than to call yourself "an artist who uses a camera"? Or indeed, "a photographer, among other things?"


  8. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Lynn,

    Where did you get that idea? It's one I've never encountered before.


  9. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    I think, in that reply, you have put your finger on one of the problems with this thread (and dozens of others on this forum). People just don't read or understand the question.

    It was, "As a photographer, do you consider yourself an artist?" (my italics)

    Nothing whatsoever about telling people you are an artist or claiming to be an artist.

    I know that there are people who like to talk about themselves. In Scotland, they are usually dismissed with the phrase, "I ken't his faither!"

    (OK - if one wants to be pernickety, I appreciate that you cannot give an affirmative answer to the "consider yourself" question on a public chatroom such as this without telling other people. But you know what I mean.)
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2016
    Geren likes this.
  10. Trannifan

    Trannifan Well-Known Member

    Strange! I've just read this in the biography of a local artist who did a lot of ceramic work. She spent some time with an english potter/ceramic artist called Mary Wondrausch, to whom she attributes this quote.


  11. Trannifan

    Trannifan Well-Known Member

    There's a photo business and gallery in Eton called 'Rhubarb and Custard(!)' that puts on open exhibitions where anyone can participate, assuming of course that their offerings are good enough. AP carried a small plug for them a couple of years ago, the theme being 'Abstracts'. I got in touch with them and sent them a thumbnail of my proposed contribution, a picture from my "Bottled light - refilled" group. They liked it, so I sent them the file so that they could make a print of it. Later on I looked at the exhibition on their website and couldn't help noticing that my picture stood out like a sore thumb! All the other contributions were, well, see the quote above. Also, anything that was described in AP as being "Fine Art" seemed to show the same characteristics. This is possibly where the "Lone Tree Cliche" really comes into it's own!
    THe print they made, along with the passepartout, is now stored in the cellar along with my other exhibition prints. To be honest, I've got no idea of what I'm going to do with it!

  12. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Well-Known Member

    It would seem a lot of Photographers think of fine art photography as the sort of Photography "Photographic Clubs" produce.
    I would say that "Nothing could be further from the truth"
    It is the sort of work most club judges would trash.
  13. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    I am not sure about that, Terry.

    In my experience, club judges tend to favour anything that stands out from the crowd. Even clichéd fine art nudes do well. High-key still life does well. Minimalistic compositions do well.
  14. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Well-Known Member

    Exactly.... those are all things unlikely to be produced by fine art photographers.
    any thing that is a Cliché is unlikely to be the work of an artist.

    I think there is a world of difference between a recognised fine art worker and a self styled fine art photographer.
  15. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    Now I am confused (nothing new there, you might say).

    I understand the difference between "recognised" and "self styled", but I don't know in what ways the "fine art" produced by each would differ (other than that the output of the recognised worker might, in some cases, be judged to be "better" than that of the self styled, but unrecognised, worker. But that, in itself, raises questions about "recognised by whom and by what criteria?")

    In a sense, it takes one back to the heart of this discussion and, in particular, the comments I made to Roger. The hub of the question is whether one considers oneself to be an artist; not whether one tells people that one is or that other people recognise one as such. Although I would hesitate to say how I regard myself, art-wise, I suspect that the fact that people have purchased my paintings and people have published my poetry and people have exhibited my photographs does indicate how I am seen by some others.

    But how do I regard myself? Principally as a grumpy old Scottish git who swears too much and who, given the chance to start out all over again, would possibly aim to make even more mistakes than I made this time round. (I would certainly make much more exciting mistakes and seek the assistance of a much wider range of women.)

    Last edited: Apr 13, 2016
    EightBitTony likes this.
  16. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    I have to say, Lynn's interpretation of the term 'fine art' doesn't really tally with mine at all, but I can see where it comes from. There is I think, and I can tell i'm going to get slated for saying this in light of some other comments I made on another thread, a tendency for some people who don't know where they sit in the photographic spectrum, to label themselves Fine Art photographers, and they often seem to produce the kind of images that appeal to a public that "doesn't know anything about art but I know what I like". In days gone by they would all have had a print of Monet's Poppies up over the mantle. These days it's a monochrome lone tree barely reflected in a lake of long exposure misty water. That's not my experience of Fine Art Photography. And I'm not saying the 'art school' way is the only way, not by a long shot, but this is a link to the 2nd Year tumblr blog and there's nary a lone tree and not a lot in focus...
  17. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Well-Known Member

    I would say a Fine art photographer is primarily an artist who chooses to use the medium of Photography.
    The converse, are primarily Photographers who chose to display their works as Art.

    It would seem that many of the leading artists throughout history have been polymaths, to whom the medium is secondary, but chosen when and for what it excels at.
  18. Trannifan

    Trannifan Well-Known Member


    I seem to recall other threads here where, in the course of things, sombody (not me) asked for a definition of fine art photography. Answer came there none. When photostudios & galleries offer Fine art photographic prints what am I supposed to think? The term and/or concept seems to me to be somewhat nebulous and I would certainly never describe what I do as Fine art. On the other hand, if somebody with presumably wider experience than me wants to describe my efforts as Fine art then that's their assessment.

    "doesn't know anything about art but I know what I like"..Ever heard Tom Paxton's "Talking Pop-Art Blues"?

  19. Smith Jr.

    Smith Jr. Active Member

    I consider myself having an interest in photography, neither an artist nor a photographer...
  20. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    Oh it's definitely nebulous - like most of these things. Defining 'art' in any of its forms has long been a pointless endeavour as far as I'm concerned. Like I said, I can see why you associate 'fine art photography' with the things you said but my personal view is that's because studios and galleries know that that's what the buying public thinks they like!

    Hadn't heard the Tom Paxton song before but just listened to a cover of it and snickered!

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