About the Difficulties of Art in Photography

A camera is really easy to use, particularly compared to a violin or a painter’s brush. Learning to expose and focus fully manual takes a month, add two more months and we have practiced a lot. And by the way there are wonderful pictures taken with a camera on full auto mode. So the difficulty to make art photography is really not the technique. The difficulty is finding a Creative vision. I hope I can talk more about this in the future. Today I talk a bit about a common pitfall which so often paralysis creativity: technology and the abuse of it.

Night photography. Silhouettes of a patron and a waitress against brightly green illuminated background. An orange table provides a small colour contrast accent

Serving Tea

Unlike a violin a camera was not primarily designed to produce art. Cameras are used by journalists and for other documentary work, for example real estate agents use photos to show property and scientists and technical people use it. Our dentists have a top notch Canon DSLR with macro lense and macro flash.

A modern camera is usually a metal box with a lot buttons and dials and menus in a cryptic technical language. Plenty high tech accessories for diverse situations are available. And all this is so tempting to rely on technical skills and solutions to take great pictures.
Photographers tend to buy all the best accessories and rely on them. Getting an underwater casing will get pictures of interesting underwater life forms, a macro lense will reveal amazing details, a tilting lense will give architectural photos with fully corrected axes and angles, high speed photography impresses us with pictures of a bursting glass etc.
And all this might be interesting. But in the end it is just technical and keeps our interest just for minutes.
This is not art! Art should show something deeper, is about real emotions and moving stories and hold our attentional for a long time and encourage us to come back to the same picture many times. All these gadgets seduce us into thinking we could replace creativity with them.
This technical mindset also leeds many photographers to treat composition as a step by step guide to taking pictures. All compositional “rules” can be helpful for structuring a picture. But if they are not treated as sometimes useful cues but instead seen as laws or step-by-step recipes they lead to predictable pictures lacking any deeper meaning.

A damp hotel window in the night, in the background blurred, colourful city lights visible

In the Hotel, Looking out over a Foreign City

Photographic minimalism usually runs into the same trap. Yes, I am often impressed by that perfect picture of a single red nail in a plain white wall or the crack in the red brick. The story ends very fast in such pictures and I have no desire to look at it a second time.
We can admire technical mastery in them but these pictures are not worth coming back as we don’t feel about them.
Neither perfect technique nor equipment can substitute for true creativity.

Creativity is more a passive quality. We can not force creativity, we must trust the creativity which is in us and let it happen. And yes,  every human is Creative! Creativity is about seeing, feeling, perceiving, loving, curiosity.

I hope to talk more about creativity and art in the future.