Is Photography Too Arty Farty???

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Link Posted 05/01/2012 - 19:35
I've bought a great camera but I don't have the "art" gene to match it. I want more realism in real photos but can also appreciate the digital art aspect. Its the grey area in between that I'm having difficulty with. I realise that that there are a lot of professional photographers on here but surely you too are getting tired of frozen beach seascapes and everyone trying to copy the latest trend. Where is the dividing line between art and reality - I'm struggling to find it. Help and opinions will be gratefully received.
K5 + 18-135mm kit lens


Link Posted 05/01/2012 - 19:53
I am one of those people that will always try to appreciate how a piece of art or photo came to be, whether it slants more on the artsy side or realistic side. To me, the end result tells me a lot about the person who made it.

But that's me. I dislike people who outright say something looks rubbish without understanding how a piece came to be.

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Link Posted 05/01/2012 - 19:59
I suppose photographers can be categorised thus:

(1) The "penis-envy" photographer - This is the type who go out of their way to buy expensive equipment that they haven't got a clue what they are doing with it, but can regale us all with tales of how much they spent. Basically, the difference between an f-stop and a bus stop confuses them.

(2) The professional photographer - people who understand their equipment, and have almost encyclopaedic knowledge of lighting, composition, etc. These are the guys/girls to listen to.

(3) The keen amateur - Graduates from the "point and shoot" school of photography, but who want to take their hobby to the next level.

(4) The "point-and-shoot" photographer - aka the Snappy Snaps customer. They will proudly show you snapshots of Big Maggie from accounts flashing her suspenders at the boss at the office xmas party. Usually, the excuse for the rather blurry picture is that they were "out of their face" when they pressed (not squeezed) the shutter button. They will also help you to better understand the blurry picture by going into graphic detail about how theit effort was achieved. Now, if they could just learn to add focus to their photos, they've got a possible future career as a photographer for Readers' Wives!!

In short - never be afraid to see an image differently to others' when taking a photo, and be willing to accept constructive criticism and comments from your peers.


Link Posted 05/01/2012 - 20:14
There is a wonderful university in Plymouth and every year they have a degree exhibition. If you haven't already, pop your head in (when its on) a have a look at what they are doing. I'd say there are VERY FEW people here and in camera clubs who are interested/practised in the "arty" side. You won't see many frozen sea-scapes.

Also the Uni will have a well stocked library and probably you could have free access ( to visit not to borrow). Have a look at the size of the photography section and the variety of styles. Give your "art" gene a shot of inspiration.

There is no dividing line between art and reality, even a shot that is pure documentary can be composed, styled, juxtaposed etc and become arty though how it is presented as part of a larger body of work. Richard Billingham really just took snaps of his family, have a look at his work and see what you think.
Last Edited by dougf8 on 05/01/2012 - 20:27



Link Posted 05/01/2012 - 20:22
I have no idea what the current trends are - I just photograph whatever takes my fancy and constantly try to learn new techniques and skills. This includes 'frozen beaches' but also includes landscape, architecture, animals, people, macro, sport and just about every style and subject except still life which just does not appeal to me as a photographer but I can appreciate it as a viewer.

To me - I do this because I enjoy it - and strive to be the best I can be. It never even enters my head to consider whether it is art or not.

Frankly - I don't care

No matter how many lenses I have owned - I have always needed just one more


Link Posted 05/01/2012 - 20:34
One of the courses I train the portfolios the students produce is one that is "out of the can" that is to say no PS work (Purset). Their second folio is what I phrase "image improvement" that is to say using the PS tools to adjust and improve. (crop/levels/dodge/burn/rotate etc).

However I train digital art as a seperate subject - using multiple digital images, distorting, colour popping etc.

I like to "swing both ways" as can be seen from my folio .link and accept all images as art. The greatest crime is passing off PS images as "as taken" that denial makes it pointless. Just enjoy, experiment and have fun, leave the arguments to those who cant.
John (VonBatCat)

Rule of Thirds - I don't do fractions
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Link Posted 05/01/2012 - 20:45
I wen to our camera club a few times and each week they had everyone submit an entry for voting. Oh joy frame after frame of frozen waterfalls frozen beached and hdr barns...

They where right it was a camera club it certainly wasn't photography

The same thing is happening in the ppg gallery. Hardly any portraits.

Eve Arnold died today aged 99 check out some of her fantastic portraits and tell me that is not art


Link Posted 05/01/2012 - 21:27
Hey there are some hideously derivative portraits out there too, man! To wit, colour popped irises.


Link Posted 05/01/2012 - 21:27
I know what your getting at with your thoughts on 'frozen seascapes', it has become a little bit too predictable and formulaic. But art isn't just defined by style alone. There's still lots of room for personal expression in even the most realist genres.

Even documentary photographers, who are expected to 'depict reality' can be arty.

Have a look at this galley by one of the most important photographer today. Reality and art blended superbly.


I think the dividing line is in 'intent'. Maybe the artist can't help what they do, maybe they just have to do it. Everything else is probably more contrivance, mere copying of a style 'because it looks good'.... which is fine if it's a tool for progression, but no one can claim to be doing something unique when they create a HDR for instance, or put together a Joiner in the style of Hockney, or create a stitch panorama, or whatever is in fashion. Best thing, keep taking photo's, but above all enjoy, learn and grow from what you do.
'The best camera you ever have is the one in your hand'


Link Posted 05/01/2012 - 21:31
Sorry - don't post often - but I have to chip in on this one.

Photography or art - art or photography??

It is both, surely - depending on your own personal view point?

Art is completely subjective - by its nature. Person "A" will like material from a certain artist - person "B" will hate it - but will rave about material from another artist. I adore Van Gough "Starry Night" - many people think it is rubbish. This does not concern me as every time I look at it, I smile. The dislikers are losing out, but that is my subjective opinion.

If some people on here think their work is art - that is fantastic, if others do not - that is their opinion. If some people want to take "real" pictures, that is also great. It is, at the end of the day all about self expression.

If there are "trends" then rejoice in it - this is called evolution and progression - and perhaps we can all learn something from the techniques employed, even if we do not appreciate the "artists" output.

HDR - it seems "trendy" - like or loathe the various interpretations of HDR images, I am sure we will all eventually benefit from the experimentation.

…..and if you want to output "real" images - that is also fine. Express yourself.

Stop asking where the dividing lines are, stop identifying the latest trends, stop trying to pidgeon hole…….

Enjoy your photography, whether you consider it photography, "arty farty", or something else……….it is self expression (otherwise why would you wish to show your photography to others) ……..and by its nature, self expression is different for every person - and long may that be the case - it is one of the few things no one can take from us.

My rant over - I guess I will now log off and never come back!



Link Posted 05/01/2012 - 21:35
cabstar wrote:
Eve Arnold died today aged 99 check out some of her fantastic portraits and tell me that is not art

Thank you for the heads up. Spot on, almost all of her images make me look at them as if they were

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Last Edited by the Moderator Team on 06/01/2012 - 10:24


Link Posted 05/01/2012 - 21:43
Couldn't agree more! Why not stay? No one's going to run you out of town for expressing perfectly reasonable views


Link Posted 05/01/2012 - 21:44
Is there a dividing line between art and reality? How can anyone tell? What I see is not what another sees, the same applies to literature, film, theatre, etc. I am sorry Frankie, that you are 'tired' of frozen seascapes - dont look - the point surely of the forum is for all of us to show our pictures, our take and our experiments for comment whether that be good or bad. For some, myself included, posting our pictures regardless, is/was a terrifying experience. One does not expect everyone to appreciate every effort but the acknowldgement of others means a great deal. Personally I think that photography is an art form whether post processed or not - so if for you it is 'arty farty' then as far as Im concerned - blooming fantastic!

Im off to shoot a few 'frozen seascapes' now, full of artistic enthusiasm.



Link Posted 05/01/2012 - 21:46
I know Wiki is not exactly the last word, but, quick copy and paste from Eve Arnold entry.....

Note the blur between photography!

"Over six weeks in 1948, she learned photographic skills from Harper's Bazaar art director Alexey Brodovitch at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan"


Link Posted 05/01/2012 - 21:55
Thanks for your comment Pentaxophile - I am waiting to be shot down....we will see!

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