Recently, David duChemin started an interesting discussion on Twitter about photography as art or commerce and how that impacts whether or not someone is a “real” photographer.
David is an artist. I’m not going to represent his point of view here. He’s very good at that and you should be reading his blog at http://www.pixelatedimage.com/blog/ if you are interested in his opinion. Personally, I read his blog regularly and find his posts very thought-provoking.
My purpose for writing today is to say that there is something about photography as art that I aspire to – but that for me – photography as commerce makes more sense.
There are two groups of photographers. (Actually there are more than two groups – but for the purpose of this discussion there are two I will mention.) There’s one group who thinks that if you are an “artist,” your photography is somehow more pure, or valuable than it is if you are a professional who shoots for pay.
The other group of professionals tends to value photographic works based on the money they generate and who are more concerned about getting paid for a photo than they are creating art. I must confess that I fall closer to the latter. I have at time described myself as a “photographic artist,” but the adjective “artist” has always made me feel uncomfortable when I use it to describe myself. I have at times no doubt created art with my camera. But more frequently, I’ve created products. And for me, that works.
David made some fantastic points in his discussion of art versus commerce in photography. He’s far more articulate and eloquent than I am. I agree with everything he said in his post – but for different reasons. You see, I don’t think we should be wasting time defining this person or that as a “real” photographer based on whether or not they get paid. But I also don’t think we should be wasting time defining people as “real” photographers just because they DON’T get paid. There are elitists on both sides. (And by the way David is NOT an elitist.)
What’s it all mean? Who knows. But I do know this. It’s the image that counts, not what you call the person responsible for the image. The picture is what matters. It’s what always has mattered most. It’s what always will matter most.
Go out and make pictures. Charge for them or not. But make them.