Recently I read an interesting interview with fascinating British photography great, David Bailey. He spoke of his shift in focus from fashion and commercial photography to art photography, and of how his clients had been replaced by collectors.
Bailey foresaw the industry changes around 30 years ago. “Photography’s finished”, he said, “It’s going to end and it’s going to go on the walls.”
When asked about his thoughts on the move in the photographic industry from film to digital and whether his early pictures would have been as successful if taken with a digital camera, he replied: “It’s not the camera that takes the picture; it’s the person”.
It was a timely reminder to me of what is important as I am always looking at my work and thinking it would be so much better if I went to a large format camera, or a better lens, or one of the other new gadgets that are always being promoted as the way to improve your photos.
The hardest part of art photography is to find your own vision, and then to stick with it. So many photographers seem to spend far too much time copying other photographers that they perceive to be more successful, that they don’t have the time to develop their own point-of-view.
Art photography offers a myriad of opportunities to be explored by the creative photographer, especially in its more abstract forms. Abstract art can transport the viewer into a stunning world of colours, shapes, textures and patterns, and I have found that nature’s aesthetics provides an eternal source of inspiration for this art form.
There are so many individual elements that are necessary for the creation of a great image. Composition and lighting are the two key components that most photographers think about when capturing an image.
However, for an image to stand out as art, it needs to leave a strong impression on first sighting.
My focus has always been on colour and texture and their reaction to the ambient light, as these elements can be used so effectively to add emotional impact to an image. For, when you boil it all down, emotional impact is really what we are all looking for in a photograph!
Something I experiment with often is to swirl the colours together by using a very shallow depth of field and plenty of natural light, which can either give a soft, expressionistic and almost painterly feel to the image, or when working with strong colours, can make a powerful and dramatic statement.
Beauty in art photography, like so many things in our world, is often found in the unexpected. We must ensure that our minds stay open to always exploring new ideas so that when we do stumble upon the unexpected beauty, we will be sure to recognise it as such.
“Photography is an art and not just a skill. Because if it was just a skill and not art, everyone would make the same piece of furniture.” ~ David Bailey