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  1. #1
    hoffy's Avatar
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    What Makes it art, when it simply could be a snapshot?

    I have been looking at a few images from Stephen Shore over the last few days. My wife was peaking over my shoulder this morning and comment "What makes these special? Aren't they just snapshots?" She was commenting on his shot US93, Kingman AZ - http://www.jacksonfineart.com/privat...53&imageid=154

    I have to admit, that his did start my own questioning on what is art and what is a snapshot? While I actually enjoy Shore's work (I like images that you must explore and not simply just look at), I do see my wifes point.

    So, who decides that imagery like this is art? Does it come down to the effort put in? Does it come down to the strength of previous work? Or are we like sheep - I.E., if someone says it's good we all then think it must be good? (I believe he had connections with Warhol)

    Just some random thoughts

    Cheers

  2. #2
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    For the stuff on the page you linked to I have to agree with your wife, those look like snapshots to me.

    "No acount'n for taste" as my dad used to say.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  3. #3
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    Your wife is right,these pictures are "Just snapshots" anyone can call their work "Art" and themselves "Fine Art Photographers" it's what's known as The Emperors New Clothes School Of Photography , it is really to impresses the uninitiated, the idea that the craft of photography is Art is a fairly recent one mainly since WW11 promoted by galleries and auction houses when trying to sell photographers work.
    Ben

  4. #4
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    I agree. A camera is a device which records the image in front of it when you press the shutter. I have a problem calling the process art if the photographer had little to do with arranging the subject matter. I prefer to call it a craft.

    As for the resultant image being artistic. Many are, many more are not but, for example, in the case of a fine landscape image, nature is the artist.

    EDIT: I have just had a look at the link. Total blandness. These are the shots I would have thrown away! I went to a local exhibition like this. Totally boring, bland shots with pastel colours and no idea of composition but they were printed big so they must have been artistic!


    Steve.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

  5. #5

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    I see no real difference between a photo as 'art' and one as a 'snapshot'. It's a false dichotomy.
    Steve.

  6. #6
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    In defence of the link I posted, the image I looked at is a lot more vibrant in colour.

    While I don't find the image technically appealing, I think I get what Shore was trying to achieve and this was to show in a weird sort of way, the beauty in the blandness of that part of the USA.

    Would I hang this one on my wall? No. Would I take an image of similar subject matter? Well, in a word, yes, but I have to admit, It would be composed a bit tighter. Maybe I AM his target audience after all

  7. #7
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    People will argue forever on the definition of 'art' but the thing to remember is that just like music, poetry (anything really) there is a full spectrum of quality. Just as there is good music and bad music, there can be (and is) good photography and bad photography, good art and bad art.

    Defining something as art doesn't automatically make it good.


    Steve.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by hoffy View Post
    So, who decides that imagery like this is art? Does it come down to the effort put in? Does it come down to the strength of previous work? Or are we like sheep - I.E., if someone says it's good we all then think it must be good? (I believe he had connections with Warhol)
    I used to think that photos such as Stephen's were somehow 'boring' or 'untalented', however I'm starting to see that photographs needn't be read individually. You can read the photographs as a 'collection' where each photograph individually isn't saying anything but the collection allows the viewer to draw parallels between them and to build an emotional response as they browse through all of the photographs.

    For instance these glimpses of a world would be something many people had never considered before. Displaying them as an exhibition makes people pay attention to the banal - things they would pass by if glimpsed in a pile of family photographs.

    The similarities and differences between the photographs can be studied and these will inform the viewer of the 'message' that the photographer is trying to get across.

    Now I don't particularly like the picture, they don't do a lot for me, but this way of thinking about photography has allowed me to appreciate many photographers that I had shunned previously (e.g. Jem Southam).

    Tim

  9. #9

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    To be art, it has to move you, it has to make you feel something, it should stir a passion in you. And no, you do not have to stage a photo for it to be art, waiting a month for the sun to be in the right place isn't really staging, but it can produce art, and lest we forget that the "Afgan Girl" was far from a professional model, but her photo shows unfathomable pain and suffering.

    A snapshot just makes you think, "oh yeah, that's Kingman alright".

    In the end, you have to decide if it is art.
    "Would you like it if someone that painted in oils told you that you were not making portraits because you were using a camera?"
    "Shouldn't it be more about the joy of producing and viewing the photo than what you paid for the camera?"

    Me

  10. #10

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    Interesting pictures, could be fine art, but I perfer snapshots.

    Jeff

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