Photography as art

There was a long period in my career when my primary duties did not involve taking pictures. It was about a 20-year stretch. But I looked at pictures, millions of them, as part of my job as a photo editor. I’d like to think that helped me be a better photographer.

 I still took photos during that stretch, but it was mostly family, travel, etc. And I did photograph a number of assignments, especially sports, when staff manpower was low.

 In 2000 I left the newspaper business and  re-defined myself as a business co-owner in another part of the country. And while I did have to extend my skill set to some new areas, I suddenly had the opportunity to make the photos I wanted to make. I am still trying to figure out how my interpretive skills changed. But I am now free to pursue my photography as “art.”

Which brings me to, photographically speaking, what is art and what is just a really good photo? Is there a difference? How does the work of a photojournalist differ from an art photographer?

Certainly most photojournalism, straight-up news, is not art. That’s not to say that a single editorial photo can not be artistic, but other than its news/historical importance… would you hang it on your wall?

Well, yes, if it evoked an emotion within me. Art is emotion.

About five years ago our company bought a Robert Rigby made 50mm pinhole camera that took 4x5 film holders (or Polaroid). I knew what pinhole photography was, but had never dipped my toes in it.

The first time I used it I didn’t know what to expect. I made some photos on Polaroid 55 film (RIP) that produced a positive and a negative (that is sooo cool). One of the photos I made in that session (Sentinel Tree) hooked me like a Smallmouth on a hand-crafted Mayfly bug.

In my last post I mentioned the five basic elements of when I was learning the craft. Suddenly there were four: film type, film ASA, shutter speed and focal length. My aperture is fixed.

I have other photographic interests, but I'll leave those to cover later. This elemental form of photography has captured my Muse for now.

SIDEBAR: Muse or Muses from Greek mythology really doesnt cover the visual arts (unless you include it in Tragedy). The nine generally accepted Muses were: Epic Poetry, History, Lyric Poetry, Music, Tragedy, Religious Music, Dance, Comedy and Astronomy.

So, lets combine inspiration/visual acuity/graphic perception/mood/energy level/etc. Thats my muse. Photographica.

But wait, there’s more.

DOUBLE SIDEBAR: Saint Veronica, according to the Holy Catholic Church, is the patron saint of laundry workers and photographers. She is the one who approached Christ on his way to Golgatha and wiped his face with a towel, leaving an imprint of his face on the towel.

Two birds with one stone. Laundry worker, photographer.

I’ve been compelled to convert my small basement workshop into a part-time darkroom. I still own an enlarger. But, even more so, this space is now my workbench for constructing and modifying cameras.

I’m not sure where this will all lead, but I’m looking forward to the ride.

Taken today at our local sledding hill. Part of a style of photos I call "Reconstructions." Taken on my Canon G9, assembled in Photoshop Elements 9.