EDITOR’S NOTE: We tried some new software to auto-post this story today since I am on the road and for some reason it inserted the wrong picture. We switched it manually and apologize for any inconvenience or confusion.
Corporations have “Mission Statements.” Artists have “Artist’s Statements.”
If you want to communicate with fine art buyers, galleries, museums and anyone who buys photography or for that matter, who sells it, you might want to consider creating an artist’s statement. This statement should help anyone interested in collecting your work understand where YOU are coming from. It should be about YOU not so much about a camera or a photo or a technique. To quote my friend Dane Sanders – “YOU are not your photography.” So tell us something about what it’s like for you to make a photo. Share your heart. That’s how you write an artist’s statement.
Rather than give you a checklist of what to include in your statement, I’m simply going to show you mine. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to do this. I think you just have to write from your heart or be inspired by someone or something else who shares your vision. I re-wrote my statement last year when some comments I received on my images helped me to see what others were seeing in my work, but which I lacked the proper mirror to see. Here’s my artist’s statement.
For me, wildlife art photography is about two connecting themes: extraordinary craftsmanship in terms of technical mastery of photography and a fundamental understanding of the dynamics of the nature behind the image.
At a deeper level, however, I pursue this art form because of its almost religious qualities.
One day, I can have a vision in my mind that represents a photograph I want to make. This vision exists only in my head and my heart – it’s a silent vision which has the power to bring me out into the field, month after month, year after year, for a chance to turn that vision into something tangible that I can share with others.
The other religious aspect of my work is focus and devotion to an idea over which I have absolutely no control.
I learn all that I can about the natural factors behind each photographic opportunity, but I never know how they will play out. My artistry focuses on the beauty of things which are random. Wildlife operates within its own free will. The bird flies its own path.
It’s different than working in a photography studio where I have control over the set, the model and the lights. As a wildlife artist, my gift is to know how to “show up prepared” to interact with beauty that I do not control. I must learn to be at peace with my subject on their terms, not on mine.
I struggle with finding the patience and the path. But when that struggle becomes the hardest, I remember my calling. I speak for the creatures which have no voice. Perhaps this is why the experience is so emotional for me.
Each time I get a perfect moment and capture that with my camera, I experience joy and sadness. I am joyful because the finished work provides me with a lifelong memory of a successful vision. But I also feel sadness that the pursuit is over.
After that moment, the cycle begins again, and I launch the pursuit of the next creative vision. I hope to share that vision well enough that others may someday wish to help speak for the animals too.
Gig Harbor, WA