Art or Craft?

The fact that you are reading this blog means, that you love photography. Needless to say, so do I. Hang on, I need to qualify that. I like the process of taking pictures – thinking of a project or a motive, being outside or in the studio, setting up the lighting, deciding the settings for my exposure – which culminates in that split-second “high” of pressing the shutter release, followed by the curious glance at the display screen. … And then it kind of fizzles out, to be honest. Because what I am not particularly fond of is post-production. I just about tolerate transferring the images onto my laptop, archiving them and checking them on the bigger screen. But then I hit the wall.

Unfortunately that is where the real challenge starts. Getting pictures ready for display – or for submitting into college – is what I still need to learn about. Sometimes, though, sometimes, inspiration strikes. Something catches your eye, your aesthetic tastebuds are tickled and you feel the need to work on your images. I am currently in the throes of deadline stress artistic experimentation. It has been set off by researching a favourite painter of mine, Mainie Jellett, whose house I am photographing for college. And now I am looking into referencing Jellett’s cubism in my photography. And I am playing with collaging and modifying my photos.

That’s just an experiment, trying to emulate the strong block outlines on Jellett’s abstract compositions, playing with the irregular shapes of some of her canvasses. I kind of like it, but this little doubt remains: Is there any extra value in modifying an image? Is documentary not valuable enough? Is artistic expression worth more than realistic documentation? Or really what I mean is: Is that all artsy-fartsy crap? Seriously?

In this particular case, I need to make a decision (fast!!!! deadline is approaching at lightning speed!) whether I want this to be a straightforward documentary-style submission, or whether it is an art project with less obvious content but more aesthetic value. When I started out in college year before last, I thought I’d be well into the art side of things. But can one decide to be an artist? I don’t think so. I think it is decided for you. And over the course of the last 18 months I have been coming round to the realisation that art may not be where my strength lies.

Originality excapes me. But at least I still have my capacity to be self-critical. Let’s see whether that also extends to the capacity to accept criticism. Go on, slag me.

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