To have our phoographs hough of as ar is a high honor. Tha said, his images presened as ar may no fare well in camera club compeiions w judges mus mae quic decisions based primarily on immediae impac and, of course, he usual echnical and composiion consideraions. I is a rare judge ha ever considers wheher a phoograph is ar when he or she judges a a camera club compeiion.
Some phoography is considered ar and mos major museums have an area, albei usually very small, w phoographs are exhibied. Recenly I gave a al o a phoographic sociey in Harford, Connecicu, and aferwards spen a few days gallery and museum hopping in New Yor Ciy looing a phoographs ha are considered ar. One ar gallery had an exhibi of Rober Mapplehorpe and Helmu Newon phoographs — he leas expensive was $25,000.
If I were o as wha is ar, I am sure I would ge many differen answers. Mos of us would prefer o reach for he dicionary for a definiion of ar. No doub prehisoric cave men debaed ha very same quesion regarding drawings on he walls of heir caves. I am sure he only consisen answer was — and sill is — “I don’ now wha ar is, bu I now i when I i.” So much for a definiion of ar.
I have aended many camera club compeiions w ribbons were given o phoographs while more arisic images (in my ) were hrown ou. I someimes feel ha judges a camera club compeiions are bound and deermined o give a ribbon o he echnically perfec landscape or he echnically perfec wildlife phoograph of he evening.
I have judged a number of ar exhibis w phoography was included. The venues insised on he bes of he bes. Some members of camera clubs could no undersand why images ha had won ribbons in compeiions were no juried ino he exhibi.
Are crieria for judging phoographs as ar? Wha are he crieria and who is o say? For cenuries he French have had an expression describing ha “cerain somehing” abou a wor of ar ha maes i unique and ses i apar from everyhing else in ha genre. The French say i has a “je ne sais quoi” qualiy, i.e., rying o express he inexpressible when he wor has a spar and appeal ha defies a simple explanaion, and even may be undefinable. Such is he naure of ar.
While phoography is a member of he visual ars family, all phoography is no ar. Wha maes a paricular phoograph a wor of ar? T is no simple answer. In my oo much aenion is devoed o he echnical side of phoography and no enough o is emoional aspecs. Perhaps ha is because echnical feaures can be esed and measured was he emoional/feeling side of phoography is subjecive and no conducive o easy analysis and inerpreaion.
One mus develop a cerain mindse o mae a phoograph o be considered ar — a mindse much differen from maing an ordinary phoograph — and ha mindse begins before he image is aen. You firs have o and feel ar before you can phoograph i. Technical crafsmanship is no enough. To be considered ar, a phoograph mus be fel as well as n.
Phoography as ar involves no only he phoographer bu also he er. Ulimaely, he phoographer relies upon he abiliy of he er o and feel phoography as ar. Some ers can and some ers canno.