I have been a musician and composer all my adult life. I can tell you that almost without exception, composition is the greater "art". It is certainly more challenging. It is often more rewarding. (I do not wish to take anything from the art of the performer, I have been that as well.)
In terms of photography, I usually "perform" every aspect entirely on my own. So, by your definition I might be an artist. Sometimes, with colour work, a lab will do the work which follows the button... sometimes under my supervision, if it is a challenging project, or sometimes autonomously, when they can easily achieve the results they know I expect. I have a fine working relationship with my lab and trust them to print something right. They are well rewarded for this. Does this make me less of an artist?
This is the first time I have been so personally offended on APUG (as much because you misunderstand the musical arts as well as the photographic) that I had to actually step away from the computer before I responded. I can only say, Denise, with all due respect, that you are mistaken.
Oh... I am a conductor as well, which I don't make any actual music at all. (well, I'm not supposed to... sometimes I hum along.) What kind of artist do you suppose that would make me? I've got an eight-hour rehearsal for a production of Evita this afternoon. Why don't you chum along and you can tell me who the artists are in the room. Andrew Lloyd Webber won't be there. (oh, that's right... he's only a composer.) All I'll be doing is waving my arms. Nothing of any artistic value in that. Someone else in the room will be making the music. They must be the artists.
No tears on my part for demise of the minilab. I hope it will promote custom labs like this: http://labwork-bw.com/main.htm
Yes, you will pay more, but you won't get crap prints either.
I wish optical minilabs were still popular. I know that RA-4 minilabs are still optical in a sense because they scan and print optically but I like the totally traditional ways.
if your (mini) lab gives you bad prints, change labs!
personally, i don't think really matters who processes or prints the film ...
more often than not pushing the button is harder than anything else further down the line ...
Now, I have to say that the local Wal-Mart does an excellent job. They are knowledgeable about they're machines, and since I have been getting my C-41 done there for years. They recently switched over to a "dry lab" meaning they print CMKY dye-sub on fuji inkjet paper. I don't do any of that, because I don't like the way the prints act. They scan the negs for me, CD Only, and will do just about anything I ask. I tell them not to color correct anything, turn off all the automatic deals, and they have no problems doing anything like that.
I think I am going to start using Richards Photo lab for my color stuff as well tho, because I have no say in what the Corporate monsters do.
Dear Steve and Tom;
First I will reply to Steve. Steve, if composition, cropping and proper exposure is all you aim for in your expression then what you have described is not akin to art but more akin to framing and technique. If what you later describe in darkroom craft, dodging, burning and image manipulation to achieve your vision, then what you have described is the compilation leading to artistic expression. It is the road every photographic artist has taken to earn the right to call themselves artists. The word artist has oftentimes become used to mean something above, elite, better than not but that is only in the opinion of others. I use the term to describe the "compleat" not complete, photographer.
That is, vision, under total control of craft, to realize that vision and that original vision thus realized,(composed), is the Art.
Tom, I am very sorry if you thought my use of the word composer implied musical composition...Never. I know of no composer who was not only versed in their craft but very often brilliant performing artists as well... Rachmaninoff, Liszt, Chopin, Gershwin and others too numerous to mention. Tom, have you ever known a composer that could not sight read or at the least have some knowledge of orchestration or play an instrument? I have not met one and I was, in my early life before becoming a professional athlete, a musician. In the mid 1950's while I was studying toward a career as a concert pianist, I met Ansel Adams while he was photographing on our Sierra property. While he was photographing a huge burnt out cedar stump, I asked why he didn't prefer to photograph the six beautiful waterfalls and cascades on our property and he explained his vision to me and analogized music and photography. That moment struck me like a thunderbolt and for the rest of the morning and late into the afternoon we discussed music and photography. Ansel started me on this wondrous journey and I am forever grateful for that gift. Tom, I will tell you that of all the art forms, musical composition and literature are at the summit of art in my opinion and will outlast every other art form. I am sorry that I do not posses the talent for either. I am equally sorry that what I wrote offended you so much, as after reading your response, it is clear that we are in complete agreement on what constitutes the necessary components of art.
Denise - yours is an interesting argument. May I ask if you have considered photographers who use slide film and project the results. Can they be artists?
In a word yes. Perhaps Alfred Stieglitz said it best, "art is only work until some rich guy buys it". A little cynical and in many cases much too true. I believe that art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps a more universal definition should include that art is a want not a need.