Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Photograph vs The Painting

Snag, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

While I claim to be no expert on the state of painting in the world today, I have sort of come to the conclusion that most painters don't paint what a lot of photographers photograph.  The epiphany came to me while I was looking at one of my favorite websites, americansuburbx.  Admittedly there is a lot of filtering going on in that the webmaster is showing what he wants to show.  However, in looking at the vast offering of photographic images, I'm struck about how many seem to be "photographic" images that would never be painted.

I wonder why this is?  Are photographers more likely to explore the world around them?  Is the relatively inexpensive and less time-consuming nature of our medium an invitation to explore aspects of our environment that would not attract those working in another medium that is more time-consuming?

I certainly know that working with a digital camera is different than working with a view camera.  The differences are not a case of better vs worse but rather in how we approach the subject matter and, maybe more importantly, what/how we choose to photograph.  Digital frees us to explore a subject in a manner that we often felt reluctant to do in film.  In short, digital is relatively cheap, we can take many pictures of a subject, and choose what works.

As an aside, the waste basket and knowing how to use it effectively, is probably the best piece of equipment any photographer, regardless of medium, can own.  Often the difference between a good photographer and a great one is merely what one chooses to show, not what one takes.

One thing I know for certain, you cannot be afraid of failure, regardless of your medium.  The safe is seductive.  The call of "branding" or being recognizable is the call of the dark side.  It leads to doing the same things over and over and convincing yourself that you are doing new work.  Great art takes risks.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


                                               Vine, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

One of the great things about being at the Torpedo Factory Art Center is that every day someone walks in the studio and tells me what wonderful images I take.  The ones who think otherwise tend to keep their thoughts to themselves or just walk on by the studio.

However, several years ago I heard a teacher tell her students not to look in my studio because there were "dirty pictures" on the walls.  That pretty much guaranteed that they would be back to look.  They were probably disappointed!

Friday, March 1, 2013