Landscape- Exercise 1.4- What is a photographer?

For this exercise we had to read and identify the keys points in Marius de Zayas articles Photography and Photography & Artistic Photography

There were a lot of points I found within the two articles, some of which still relates today and others which are very telling of the time in which they were written.

  • To begin with he makes quite a blunt remark stating the “photography is not Art. It is not even an art” He backs this up by stating that art is the expression of an idea whereas photography is a “verification of a fact”
  • He talks about how art devours art and how artists seek inspiration from other artists. At the time this was published, this was done by visiting galleries. Nowadays this is still the case however we now use a number of different ways to view art for example galleries, books and the internet.
  • The point that is the most telling of the time period, is the point he makes about the differences between European and “African-Negroes” (as he refers to them). He suggests that “African-Negroes” appreciate abstract form yet find abstract lines incomprehensible and that this is down to culture. However, I completely disagree with this. Ethnicity has nothing to do with how we interpret things. It is a combination of our own perceived ideas, what we are taught and what we see and allow to influence us.
  • When discussing contemporary art, he refers to the makers of such art as savages who do not understand the difference between the real and the imaginary.
  • De Zayas describes form being created in a sort of process (as shown in the following link Doc2)
  • He then goes onto say that art is based on false ideas of reality as they are altered by the sentiments and passions of an artist. In other words, no matter how hard we try to stay true to what we see, we cannot alter how our brain interprets things. It is also the case that we warp things in our minds to make them more convenient or more relatable to ourselves i.e. when painting, you may think that the picture would look better with a red house in it however the object doesn’t exist in front of you but you paint it anyway.
  • This is why photography is essentially not art. Photography gives us a “reality of form” through a mechanical process.
  •  He also makes the point that photography takes away the “veil of mystery” which art has created and that art gives us an intellectual/emotional truth whereas photography gives us a material truth.
  • Throughout the article, De Zayas constantly writes art with a capital letter whereas photography is with a small letter. This, to me, gives me the impression that he is more in favour of art then photography.

When reading this, I get the impression that De Zayas thought that photography was just a  flash in the pan and that people would become bored with it when they realised it did little more than make a copy of what you could see in front of you. At the time this was written, the author would have no idea of a) how popular photography would become, b) the technology that would go behind it, c) photo manipulation and finally d) how people would interpret how they use it i.e double exposure images and panoramas.

The second article focused more on the differences between “pure” photography and “artistic” photography. This article was written 6 years after the “Photography” article so aspects of photography had changed considerably.

  • He describes “pure” photography as having no preconceived idea of the end results, the photographer wanting to acquire the truth (i.e. take a true to life image) and that the images created represented something outside of the themselves i.e. what you saw was what was on the image.
  • He described “artistic” photography as having preconceived ideas which convey emotions, the photographer is trying to express their individuality and the end images conveyed an emotion/moods/feelings inside the photographer i.e. the viewer was able to delve into the image and explore it.
  • I think that these descriptions can still be valid today. There are photographers which take images in order to “acquire the truth”. The best examples of this are scenes of crimes officers and clinical photographers whose aim is to take images to be used as references and as evidence so need to be clear and convey exactly what is seen. “Artistic” photography is also still a valid description however nowadays artist photographers are able to convey a lot more through photos such as culture/beauty/money/politics for example.

About kunsworthphotography

I am currently studying towards a BA (Hons) in Photography with OCA and I have 2 children, Evie(4 years old) and Connor(3 years old)
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