Hello again Steve Barry,

Quote Originally Posted by stevebarry
Thank you for the welcomes! I appreciate it.

Art is for everyone to enjoy. Everyone. What i am trying to say - is that, if you are going to try and create the art, you should have some understanding of what art is. No? It is up to you to do things everyone can relate to - or not.
This is my approach and thinking too. However, it is often that the artist needs to be an educator. In the Unites States many people do not grow up knowing about works of art, unlike in Europe and other areas of the world were it can often be a more important aspect of early education (not just college level).

I think if someone wants to create art, then it can be helpful to have a basis in foundations, or at the very least understand and be exposed to some art history. When I would be careful applying that approach would be those rare individuals who show great insight, inspiration, and ability to express their creativity visually to others. While those are indeed rare individuals, a careful approach could help them become even better artists.

I use to have a battle with some of my former professors about some art only possible to be understood by other artists. My feeling has been that art should be compelling for nearly anyone. Art for artists, or only understood by artists, smacks of elitism.

Quote Originally Posted by stevebarry
I think it is an essential part of art, to discus it.
The other extreme is people outside the art world telling you they don't understand art, but they know what they like. Likely many here have already heard that expression. When you can tactfully explain to an interested outsider (or client, or buyer) how they are viewing, or an idea you wanted to express, then you can encourage understanding of art. I like to know what someone thinks about or imagines when they see one of my paintings or photos. Then I might ask what they noticed first, or second . . . or what really drew them towards an image. Create a dialogue, and move onward from that when it appears that a viewer is interested.

Quote Originally Posted by stevebarry
I would say, the majority of photographers that will be remembered in the art world, have had a formal art education. There are exceptions of course, some extremly notable ones, but it certainly is not the majority. Some of my favorite photographers are self taught....

I don't know of any statistics for this. I am inclined to agree that some had formal training, maybe not like there has been in the last few decades. Unfortunately claims based upon majority statistics can seem like mob rule. You need to consider that someone with a BFA might be clueless. Just like any degree or formal training, there can be differing levels of success at becoming an artist. Getting the BFA is a good idea (in my opinion), but that alone does not make one an artist. I knew several people that I graduated with in 1998 that many of my co-graduates would not consider artists, despite that piece of paper.

Quote Originally Posted by stevebarry
It is a misconception that simply because one uses a large format camera and film(or any combination of equipment), one is practicing "fine art photography". Which seems to be the view held by most people here.

It can sometimes seem that way here, and on other forums. However, I would not belittle anyone whose ambition is to create art. While they might make many mistakes, a little encouragement and knowledge can help people become better artists. A simple approach is that others might think someone's images are beautiful , whereas someone with formal training in art knows there is more to artwork than beauty. Someone formally trained in art might also be able to explain to another individual the formal elements. Of course, simply following formal elements, or applying ones knowledge from foundations training is no more a guarantee of producing compelling art than buying a camera, or a set of paints and brushes.

I suppose there might be a romantic notion of being an art photographer due to difficulties of technical efforts with a particular camera, film, process, printing method, et al. There are skills and crafts involved in photography, but none of those things validate the resulting images as art. You should also be aware that many people involved in photography are in it for the processes and procedures. Some others just want to record history. A few will consider that their control of the cameras and processes makes their results artistic.

While none of that is formal, I would imagine that a careful examination of some of those photographers images would reveal some surprises. Then some artist might come along and mentor such an individual, point out some images and explain why they might have been more popular or more successful images. There are good guidelines based on foundations and formal training, but there are no absolutes nor formulas in producing works of art.

Quote Originally Posted by stevebarry
As some have said, I think we are talking about two different things. Art, and art photography, are different than "fine art photography". I think the later is used by those in the photo world, whos goals are not simply commercial. a seemingly more pure persuit, but in that context its just a self applied label, which becomes kind of meaningless. especially since, there is no consensus, on even what it means to be a "fine art photographer". i would never call what i do, fine art photography.
When I get hired for commercial work, it is because of my creative vision, and the approach I can bring to a client to produce a compelling visual solution to their creative problems. I see my work as not being fine art in that it becomes produced as numerous copies, and there was a commercial intention prior to the attempted creative solution. I usually have complete control over how I approach the painting, illustration, or photos. This goes back to what you stated that some imply that a level of control indicates whether something is art photography, fine art, or simply art . . . . almost like art is more of a verb than a noun.

Maybe a better example would be my paintings, since most people accept oil on canvas as being fine art. A couple times I have entered into discussions of having posters made from a few of my paintings. While someone down the line might market the posters as fine art, I truly only consider the original painting to be a work of fine art. Here again, this is my choice of semantics.

People usually understand when you tell them you produce fine art and I don't think there is anything wrong with using such terminology. I don't recall saying that in college, because I had this feeling that until I showed my work in an exhibit, or got that degree, it did not seem proper to claim what I was creating was fine art. Instead I called it painting, or drawing, or illustration, or sometimes photography . . . terms I still use more often.


Gordon Moat
A G Studio