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I have been studying Fine Art at University for the last year where we are encouraged to explore a variety of mediums and methods of creating 'art'. From painting, to sculpture, to photography, to digital etc. I have received very high marks this year, and also finished last years Foundation Art course with the highest qualification. I see myself as very creative no matter what method I use and my current and previous tutors have said this too.
But I feel that methods such as painting, drawing and sculpting are much more challenging and demand a much higher level of creativity and talent than art forms such as digital art, and, in particular, photography. I feel that they are a much easier way of making art.
For most of this year in university, I used photography to create my art. I received high marks and very positive feedback but I felt that it was quite 'easy' to do, I felt it required less 'effort' and at times I almost felt like photography was like cheating at an exam - high marks with less work.
I understand there is an ongoing debate about whether photography is art. Just for the record, I DO BELIEVE THAT PHOTOGRAPHY IS ART! To me, art is a form of expression and communication of emotion, and photography is one of the many ways that artists can convey those values. But I think it is a very easy way of doing it in comparison to painting, sculpting (mediums which I believe are the most true and original forms of art) etc.
There were times this year where I took 100's of photographs in a day which usually led to 10 or 20 being high enough in quality and creativity to be deemed as a 'work of art' that could be shown for assessment. When I create art through painting, I have a much more powerful feeling of pride and achievement in comparison to what I feel when I use photography. Maybe it is because most people can pick up a camera, take 100's of photos in an hour, and finish with a few that could be considered 'good' art. But give them all a paintbrush and most of them would struggle.
I think I am referring more to people who go out and photograph buildings, landscapes etc, as opposed to those who create a composition of objects or images and then photograph it to create their art. I understand that talented photographers have an eye for the subject and composition, and have control over the shutter speed, depth of field, lighting etc. But it isn't hard for the everyday person to use the 'auto' functions and create high quality images.
I have talked to people in my class and local area who are photographers and they actually tend to agree with me. Obviously, there are wonderfully creative photographers out there, but the field of photography has opened an outlet for people lacking in artistic creativity to become an 'artist'.
This is just my opinion, I'm trying to create a discussion, not an argument. I want to hear what people have to say on this ongoing matter.
Lets not troll or take offense but present the OP with why or why not.
I will start with this. There are literally thousands of images on here that would be great for an "assignment" in school but will never sell. They may well be easy art and many are in fact art. There is a huge difference between creating art and creating art that you can sell. I will tell you right now that if you are coming out with 20/100 images that are good you are either a prodigy or you are simply creating "easy art." that will never sell.
OK, so why won't it sell? Because the fact of the matter is if it is easy then anyone with a consumer grade DSLR, point and shoot or even a cell phone camera can do it and they will. Why would they buy something that is easy to do? Generally, they won't.
To produce photographic art that will sell is not at all easy. It takes a LOT of time. It takes vision. It takes research. It takes travel. It takes a LOT more than an artistic eye and yet anther flower or dragonfly image. It takes more than pretty sunset that you pull over and shoot. It takes more than finding an interesting angle on a faucet.
Here are some examples, both my own, and yours, of easy art that will have a hard time selling. The reason is not that there is anything wrong with them but rather they are easy and there are thousands of other images just like them.
Generic sunset.... Pretty but what sets it apart form the 10K plus other sunsets on here? It might sell because it is the dead sea but frankly, there is nothing in the image that says dead sea. Not a thing.
Generic flower. OK, it is a pretty flower but what sets it apart from the 10K plus other lowers on here? Not much. I have sold two or three flowers online and I mean ever and I have built a following.
Generic sky shot from an airplane window. Same shot millions have taken with their camera phones. Pretty, but a hard sell to anyone.
Insert any "easy" art you like in here and guess what, it probably won't sell.
So, what sells?
OK, this image not only has the sky and rocks but also has the Chesapeake Bay Bridge which links it to the location. The foreground gives it depth. It is a one in a hundred sunrise so it takes a bunch of tries or a lot of luck to be in the right place at the right time and oh, just being there to try means getting up at 2:30 AM in the morning just to be there an hour before the sunrise.
OK, art with a particular audience in mind. This one has a very specific audience but it is not just a snap of the boat. I worked near this marina and saw this sunset developing and took a break so I could get it. But, it took me over a year with the shot already in mind to get.
OK, this one is an iconic corner in a wealthy area but has snow and no people. I went out in the middle of a blizzard that literally shut down the DC metro area to get this shot. There was absolutely nothing easy about it.
Lastly, luck can help. I rounded the corner on a country road and found this. Luck is great BUT you will only get a few lucky opportunities to find scenes like this.
Photographic art is actually easy. Photographic art that sells is not.
Let me add that "digital art" is no more easy than painting on canvas with oil or acrylic or on paper with watercolors. I have created many digital art pieces - I'll tell you that some of my watercolors have taken less time and effort, some more. My digital art begins with a picture - it doesn't matter which for most of them, although some have the color - but what I'm after for my digital creations here on FAA is size and a starting point. I usually ditch the "background" image fairly early in the process of my work. Many of the works require more than 12 layers, each layer adds something, then there is merging and more layers, deleting layers that aren't working, sending some layers down, bringing others up, erasing parts, using my photo processing software to add effects, twist, twirl, blur, cut, paste - very seldom do they take less than three hours - unless I am part way through my creating and I see a different path to take at that point - I can save the image and it's layers there as a new file, then continue with the one I'm working on. I must be careful - one mistake, one deletion in the wrong place, one save without separating the layers and it is what it is. I've never been able to duplicate any one of my creations once they are complete and the file saved. There is no going back and it's useless to try and start over to get there.
Good fine art photographs aren't easy either - and I've learned by hard knocks - the camera is a box that takes images - but if you fail to compose it, fail to use a tripod when you should - you get nice snapshots - but you seldom get fine art images that will sell. I've been lucky and I still have a pretty steady hand - but this last trip - I wish I had followed my own advice about using the tripod - over 2,000 shots - and maybe 50 really good ones. the weather did not cooperate and my time was limited. Zion was awash with dust the first day and snow the second. Snow on the landscape is good - trying to take pictures while it's snowing pretty heavily - well - you get a lot of snow blobs in the image and you are cold and the camera adjustments weren't quite right. Just one more day, a clear, crisp day, the snow still fresh on the landscape, time to take time - I could have had fine art images of Zion. Here is snow while driving south in Utah this last month (I put over 6,000 miles on my new car in a little over two weeks)
anything can be art. it could be that your school either wasn't creative enough to recognize what you made as being creative . it's a school, it's not that hard. do you have samples of this easy art? good art is hard, it takes time, it takes skill. anyone can make art though if people recognize it as such. most good photographers don't need to take 100's of images in an hour to get something good. chances are you can hand a monkey a camera and at some point you'll get something creative as well. a good photographer just needs the one shot.
so where are your photos that you submitted to class?
With photography you're working within the limitation that your starting point is something that exists in the world - not just in your imagination. You don't create the perspective in the image, for example - it already exists (although you can manipulate it somewhat). Usually you don't create the colors, or the subject itself for that matter. The value in a photo is often found in the personal 'spin' you show by finding (noticing) something interesting or pleasing in the world, and then choosing or inventing a way to present it, a context or treatment, that adds something to the preexisting subject. I really think it's a quite different thing from painting or drawing. I can't do those things, and I'm filled with respect for those who can. Yes photography is obviously easier in important ways. Photography happens faster, there is less assembly required, as it were. With it you can, if you have imagination and perception, create an image that has value, and says something, in relatively quick order. Just going to beautiful or exotic places and skillfully capturing images is certainly a big part of photography, but there are many other things one can do with a camera.
Also, a photograph called "Rhein II" by Andreas Gursky sold recently for $4.3 million at Christie's. That easily broke the previous record set by Cindy Sherman's "Untitled #96" which sold at a $3.89 million price point.
It's easy to make a properly balanced, in-focus snapshot with a digital camera but that doesn't automatically make it art.
Photographic art takes effort, it does not pop out of the camera automatically. Digital cameras, editing software, digitizing tablets, sable paintbrushes and palette knives are nothing but tools. It takes an artist to select the proper tools and create art. Many of the photographic artists will tell you they spend many hours on a single image and develop them using 5, 10, 20 or more layers in editing software.
However, keep in mind that just because someone uses a paint brush it's no guarantee their work will be outstanding. It too can be formulaic and uninspiring.
FAA is a POD so you will find all kinds of images posted for sale here. Some of it's art and some of it less so. However all buyers are not looking for the same thing. Many are looking for the perfect image to hang over a sofa, or an image that reminds them of a special place. It may not be art but if it's well done they will love it and buy it. I'd like to believe I have both in my portfolio.
Nicely said, Lynn. John, I'm not sure that you can pull creativity out of a hat, no matter how many hours you put into it. Conor has some very creative digital and photographic work in his gallery. Some of you are implying that sales are a measure of success. I'm not sure I agree with that.
I only know that it takes a minimum of a week or 25 hours for me to produce a saleable painting. That doesn't include preliminary sketching and composition. I don't know how long it takes to post process an image. There seems to be a trend (online) to more and more photography. I'm happy as long as I can sell my originals and get great satisfaction in knowing I created everything on the canvas by hand. There is an added satisfaction of having the 'original' at the end of the day.
Conor, you have worked in both mediums so perhaps you have more insight than others like myself?
"People that have spent time doing anything can make it look "easy". "
That is what I said. I didn't mean it WAS easy, they just make it look that way.
The non-art person doesn't understand the hours it takes to create, and create well.
"Ansel Adams just pushed a button".
I agree Patricia, I don't think creativity can be "taught". I think it is a drive people have or don't. I think any education related to art is nothing more than teaching techniques to help create but they don't really teach people HOW to create art. Remember I am saying this as someone with a degree in graphic design. They taught me how to use Adobe products, which was very helpful, but they never really taught me HOW to create.
It is when we get to that point where we find we are on "auto pilot" that our hours start to pay off. We no longer think about WHAT we are doing, we just do it. (like driving a car). I believe that is the place that (what would be considered) REAL art comes from. Getting to that place takes time. Using a camera does not shorten that process, it still takes time.
P.S. for those that do not understand my 10,000 hour refrence I would HIGHLY recommend a book called "Outliers: The Story of Success" by Malcolm Gladwell.
To me I can't even draw but I can draw with photography. Yes photography can be easy, but its easy with snapshots. What is hard about photography is finding something that people don't normally see. It takes alot of patient. And I have to agree JC .
Every great artist, whether a painter, sculptor, photographer, digital, could put on paper with a pencil and/or pen.what they actually saw.
Even Jackson Pollock
And besides the ability to draw , Discernment is a requirement. With the original disciplines, that is necessity....A painting can not be done without the conscious decision for every brush stroke applied......I wonder about how much discernment is involved, when one has thousands of images presented for sale..
I am going to have to agree with Conor here.Photography is just really simple and easy...
To prove it, look at the photo below. I was just driving down the highway and saw this scene. I rolled down the window and snapped a shot, one hand on the steering wheel, the other on the camera. I was lucky the cactus all sort of lined up for me in all the right places...
Here is another shot that shows how easy photography is.. I was hiking across a field of sunflowers one evening, and tripped, and my camera accidently triggered the shutter, and luckily it was pointed towards this flower. Walmart screwed up and accidently printed it black and white and a little blurry... but I kept it anyway..
And finally, the photo below was an accident. Everyone knows you should not point your camera at the sun, you might hurt the sensor or worse your eyes. In this case I was trying to take a sunset shot with the sun at my back, but was holding the camera backwards when I shot - whoops....
Free to recognize SERENDIPITY and free to use it, is another element in Art....This applies to all disciplines
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To me, it seems funny that this "Look what I've found!!" attitude extends to coming upon, with cameras clicking away, the conscious work made by others hand and eye,made particularly for that one's visual enjoyment...and then claiming the capture to be all his Art.
And by the way, the individual responsible for the beauty of the George Washington bridge was Othmar Amman. Next to John Roebling... One of the Greatest Environmental Artist that had ever lived.
"the building might be made, but you still have to capture it, and there are lots of wrong ways." I just see Mike running down the street after a building - and how did he learned the right way to capture a building on the run.?
To me, it's not the photograph by Thomas Demand that's matters..
It's the Diorama by Thomas Demand that stands out...The photograph is just the vehicle to conveniently display that three dimensional work in a two dimensional form.."
Both matter and he only makes the sculptures to photograph them, not to be experienced 3 dimensionally. The paper sculptures are destroyed after that, the photograph is the end result as the physical work of art. If you didn't know that it was a photograph of a model, you would see a photograph of a forest. Which the viewer still sees even when knowing it's not a real forest, but it's never quite that what the viewer sees as it's a simulation of a forest. The photograph is not a lie, it shows exactly what was photographed, playing with what we think we see. There's a hyperreal strangeness to it.
"Philip - Tell me as much as you feel you can about them. What is the basis of them? If you have thoughts on how they were made? Anything."
Of your examples and your own work, I don't know. they are completely digitally created photographic paintings, made or drawn from a 'blank canvas'.
to capture a building, you have to carry a lot of rope, the hardest part is the capture itself though, it's hard to wrangle a large one, you have to start small and work your way up. then you train the building, until it trusts you completely, after that, it will pose it's best for you.
In my early days, I dealt directly with one of the finest architectural photographers at that time, Ezra Stoller....And with all his fine work ,it was the Building first, the Architect second and his Photographs third
feral buildings are the hardest to get, i try for the ones that are older and can't move as much. the main problem with shooting these structures are - the people living in them tend to fall out the windows and everyone is angry at me because of that. i just tell them if you train your building better it wouldn't hop around so much.
Roger - At no point in time do I claim to have created the GWB. At all. And anyone with an ounce of intelligence not only knows that, but also knows that I didn't create it. However, the choice how to photograph it and what did I have in mind, etc. was me. I claim ownership if the image I took and worked with. Nothing more. And do I just stop at the two names you mentioned? What about all the rest of the people who went into the making of it? Do they get no credit for being the ones to actually construct it? As for your example, I said it was art, I never said it was that good. It's a well composed photo of a sculpture. But that's about it. To make it into something more, I feel it would need to be post-worked more. Also, being as there is a big difference in photographing a bridge that the architect was already paid for, and other people constructed for him and they have all been paid (or at least the ones that didn't die making it), I'm not taking away any of their income or infringing on their copyright. In your example, I wouldn't even take that picture or attempt to sell it. That's the work of an individual sculptor. The only one who should be making money off of his sculptures and any images from them, is him. Unless you get permission to photograph them and sell it. In which case, if it were me and I had the okay, I would totally give credit to him and link back to his site, etc. That's very different than a building or a bridge.
In response to Roseann's query about how the two images were made:
I'm not sure about "LLanowar Reborn", but "Autumn In New England" was created with a software application called Vue which is used to create virtual environments. It's one of the tools I use to create images, though I usually don't use it alone, but in combination with other applications. Here's one on mine that has a similar sky:
Since I am the creator of the first image I can tell you exactly how it was made. The point I was making here is if you have no idea how it was created, how do you know how difficult it was to make or not? Since the original post noted that both photography and digital art are easier than working in traditional media, and most of the people agreeing that it is, it leads me to believe that if you have not work extensively in either, how can you make that ASSumption?
At least Michelle clarified her position by saying for me personally, understanding that it's different for all of us.
The first image, "Autumn in New England" is mine. It's an homage to the fall weather in the Berkshire Mountains in Northwestern, Massachusetts. I have yet to find a place where the colors are more stunning and rich and where I really feel my spirit say, "Whoo Fracking Hoo!" The three most common questions I get asked on this are:
Is that oils? Is that acrylics? Where did you take that photo?
Answer is none of the above. It's a mixed media 3D render and some 2D post work. Pure digital.
There was no photograph or image at the basis or used for reference. This all came from my head and the imagery I've seen. I used a 3D application and a few layers. I have a few landscapes that I constructed to be mountains and then I had to generate and choose the colors for the trees and ground. After that it was creating the sky, atmosphere, and light. And I had to render it in preview mode many times over, and over and over until I got the exact image I wanted. Then I had to wait weeks while I set it to render every single night overnight, with breaks in-between for virus and malware scans. I always render large size at 300 dpi which is optimal for printing. Then after the render I brought it into PS for post work which is usually color balance and any light adjustments I may wish to make. Sometimes I do it all by hand and sometimes I use recorded actions.
The second image, I went to his website when I first saw it, which doesn't appear to be up at the moment because I was curious, and it was listed as Photoshop and Painter. Which means that he either started with a traditional media sketch and scanned it in, or did it all digitally. Either way, that was all done by hand. When I first saw it I thought for certain it was oils. And if anyone thinks that he just pushed a button and made art, you'd be dead wrong. He's actually the founder or one of the founders of the CG Society. Some of the most stunning digital art work I have ever seen.
To me it's interesting because using it will make me look different at the way I photograph or look at my own photography. One medium informs the other. I'm looking for ways to break open photography as a medium but in the end it isn't about any medium anymore but about the confluence of ideas which is its own medium.
There is a fellow FAA member, that had taken a series of photographs of my sculptures at a venue I was selling at and put them up for sale here...Hope he make a few bucks off those photos of my work...I did contact him, and all I asked that he just gives me a little credit....He willingly did that.
But, by the fact that he put up for sale, photos of my work without my knowledge, I feel free to use those photos, short of selling prints, as I see fit.....I will and have given him credit though each time.
Yes, first of all if you're upset with him, leave it with him and don't push it on the rest of us. Two, I feel this is copyright infringement and were it me, I would report it to FAA. The worst that can happen is nothing, but it's better than not even trying if you are in agreement.
I'm certainly not upset with him...I'm honored that he thought my work was not only worth photographing but possibly good enough to make a buck...And since he willingly credited me, means I got free advertising.......Plus I have more images of my work.
I enjoyed reading your comments about photography as an art form. I am a photographer [of 61 years] and watercolorist [of almost 10 years now[. Have a story to tell others, and you decide. I have a friend who is a photographer [probably should just call him Jim for now] and the bottom line is that most other photographers won't even enter a photo contest in Fort Collins, Colorado if they know he will enter as he will win Best of Show, and if they give more than one award to a person, he will get First Place too! You see, Jim has the best eye I've ever seen, for color, value, interest, and composition. He is on FineArtAmerica.com and perhaps if you put in Fort Collins you'll find him. I've sole exactly one piece on the site; Jim has sold many in the same period of time. Now the point is, just as there are beginners, intermediates, experts, and Masters in oil paintings over the eons, there are also similar categories in photography. The uniqueness of a master photographer puts them in a category equal to the best of the painters. Jim will spend WEEKS working a photograph he selected before he puts it out for others to see. Fortunately he has shared some of his secrets with me....
It's probably best to conclude that a bias against any given medium comes from a lack of artistic experience in the medium ( I say artistic because there are many professional photographers who don't have a clue about photography in context of its history, etc. ).
Photography ( since that's what the original post was about ) is a very difficult medium to grasp artistically ( because of its seemingly objective nature ). I've been doing it for 15 years and I'm a long way from grasping or mastering it, it's very easy to misunderstand or think that one does. It's a kind of shape shifter.
Remember that painting by Magritte titled 'The Treason of Images' and which has the words "ceci n'est pas une pipe" on it, while it's depicting a pipe. That's how photographers are never using the things they photograph, or how the photograph is not the thing photographed but something else entirely.