Monday, October 17, 2016

The value of a photograph, complaints and ramblings

I am at a place with my work that I don't know what I am doing anymore. There is too much imagery that crosses my eyes everyday that it's fogging up my judgement and influencing my work in a negative way. I want and need to escape it and just be honest with my work once again. And with my thought process always comes the self-doubt and the question of why I am still making photographs in the first place. It's in my gut that I need to do this but why and who cares?

The subject of the value of a photograph has been spoken to death about in my circle but I think I need to just write it out for my sake.  Maybe it's a diversion or procrastination or maybe writing this will help clear my head a little to make room for new ideas.

Traditional photography - film, development and print are true art forms. You can do a lot of altering of images just by adjusting exposure, using different chemistry and times developing film and playing around with print exposures..all hands get wet,  pun intended. One can make the same print 10 times and there will almost always be slight variations making the images "more precious" in the eyes of the fine art world especially now as these materials are harder to purchase.

Digital photography - with a photographic mindset, exposure changes and filters can alter the image in the shooting process. One can use traditional methods of changing light and color as well with diffusers and such. Then we have Adobe Photoshop to take our images and go wild with them, if we want. We have different papers and inks to create the final image but in the end, the physical print is more easily reproduced, making them, in some way, "less precious"and definitely less expensive.

There are  some photographers that combine the 2 processes. They shoot digitally, creating digital negatives that they print in the wet darkroom and some even go as far as to print using very traditional techniques, like wet collodion printing and these are more sought out and even more precious than a silver gelatin print.

So, here I am with very little income and a Canon 40D that my best friend gave me because I lost my Nikon digital in a divorce and do not have the money to shoot film with my beautiful Nikon FM2 (or even with my Holga!) I do not have a high end printer yet but I still must shoot and create images.

What do I do?  I create and then they stay on my external hard drive until the day I can print them or have the money to have them printed, which is something I have never done in my photographic career. I have put in a lot of effort in the shooting process and even more effort in Adobe Photoshop taking the years I learned photography and art and incorporating it all into the image. So,when I do print them, what will they be worth? If I make a pigment print from an Epson printer on an acid-free paper such as Hahnemuhle or Canson, will my print be worth less than a wet collodion print? Why? My efforts are just as valid, I think. My image can be just as strong. In fact, I have seen some traditionally printed work beautifully done with the most boring of images, however, if it's a platinum or wet collodion print, it will mean more in the fine art world....but why should I care or worry about that myself? It's almost a fact if I want to succeed in selling, I suppose.

Then, let's go off topic a little and talk about dates of work. In this time, we are always looking at the next thing and the next. I have a body of work called The Divine Journey that I created over the course of almost 6 years but it's 2 years old now. If I keep promoting that work and trying to get it exhibited, will I be told the work is old? I almost feel pressured to having to create something every year. Perhaps that is my own self-imposed thought?

So what has this post taught anyone reading it? Ha ha ha. Well, I suppose it sounds like I am just complaining and I should just stop worrying about what is going on in the fine art photography world and make work. True enough. However, I think any fine art photographer reading this post will at least relate to my thoughts on some level and can commiserate with me. I would love to read your comments on the subjects.
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