Recently I entertained some new friends at my home. They had never been to the house and we took them on a brief tour. My wife and I have one room that we have set aside as a quiet place of peace and serenity. It is essentially a gallery of my work on the walls and two wingback chairs with a small table. It is simple in its furnishings to allow time to unwind and quiet the mind and spirit.
My friends entered the room and were a bit surprised at the sparseness of the setting and initially thought the images were someone else’s and were purchased. As I explained again, I was a photographer and this was my work, they showed greater interest in the art, but not much. The usual questions were asked, like where did you take this, this looks like a drawing and what does this look like in color. Nothing really grabbed them per se and we continued with the tour of the house and enjoyed a dinner with them.
I was recently reading in More Than A Rock 2, by Guy Tal, and he observed that “most of us photograph (and/or write about photography) in order to interact with other photographers.” And while in some instances this may be true, I feel that I am attempting to communicate my vision of the universe as revealed to me through my daily experiences.
It was somewhat concerning to me the lack of interest in the images and of course the lack of depth or understanding in the questions asked by my friends. The questions were superficial at best and my friends seemed like parents who see their child’s drawings and in a condescending way acknowledge the child’s art as mildly interesting.
I had to ask myself was the work I have been creating all these years as an artist really only of interest to myself, my family, interested friends and other photographers? It would seem perhaps I do not know who the audience of my images is and the work is of passing and fleeting interest to the general public.
But who am I creating this art for? Is it for consumption by the general public who are crazily posting 300 million+ images on the internet daily? And how about the remainder of the public who may not really have an interest in art and especially photographs where comments like “I could have taken that picture” abound.
I create art because it is important to me and photography is the medium I choose to express my vision. Even within the photographic community many are at a loss when they see my work and ask how I made the image. They are dumbfounded when I reveal that I use film or go into a darkroom to process film or print my images. And while I am able to create the art I desire to express in my prints, many photographers want the ease of observe, point, shoot machine gun style, pick the best and post.
To be an artist means to not just share your vision of the world. It also means having the ability to teach, inform, guide, and educate those who want to know about my art, and also how to view art in general. This is not always a one-time event and can take time to help others see the world and art in a better light and from a more informed position.
As an artist my intent should be to live passionately and purposefully, demonstrating the awe, curiosity, and beauty that I see in the world. I try live my life as creatively and as intensely as I can, revealing a world that is more than those who would celebrate greed, bigotry, hate, mediocrity, and ugliness. A lofty goal to be sure but what is life without passion for something you love. Creating art leads me to a greater work of art, that of my life.