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Kim Bemis

8 Months Ago

Are Photographers Artists?

When I am showing my photography at art shows, people often ask, "And do you consider yourself an artist?" And this comes from people who are admiring my work. Of course, I say yes, definitely. But what a strange "complement".

So, fellow photographers, are you ever asked this question, and do you consider yourselves artists? I would love to have a great one-liner to reply to people who ask.

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Mary Bedy

8 Months Ago

Tell them "no, I'm a plumber"....just to see what their reaction is ;-)

 

John Haldane

8 Months Ago

"I'm a doctor, not an artist!" ~ Dr. "Bones" McCoy

 

Louise Reeves

8 Months Ago

I have never been asked that or had it implied that I wasn't. I think if anyone asked that, I'd turned right back with "Why would you ask that?" But I like Mary's reply better.

 

Delete Delete

8 Months Ago

I have had the same question asked of me by other "fine artists". I have also had the same question asked of me by photographers who are still using film vs my digital images.

Either way, it is snobbery and nothing more. I ignore them, turn my back and walk away. Why even give them the courtesy of an answer at all?

 

Marlene Burns

8 Months Ago

ha! Mary beat me to it....a one liner would sadly, be steeped in sarcasm and win you no friends or clients.
Mad Magazine used to call them 'mad snappy answers.' I loved them!!
First time I tried it out, I was in an elevator at the dorm in college and was wearing a monogrammed blouse. Someone asked me if they were my initials...I said...
" nope, just my three favorite letters in the alphabet."
Trust me, you'll get your lights punched out if not careful!

I think most photographers would agree that they are artists...we've had many controversial threads on the subject...especially since faa has two categories ( drop down from the ARTISTS link above.)

 

Alfred Ng

8 Months Ago

tell them you are a "con artist"!

 

Peggy Collins

8 Months Ago

No, I'm an artiste. :-)

 

Mike Savad

8 Months Ago

yes they can, but it really depends how they shoot the work. if it's all snap shots from vacation, then mo. but otherwise, yeah.


---Mike Savad

 

Delete Delete

8 Months Ago

But if they are snap shots with a little HDR done to them and maybe the use of a few other filters, then they could be considered art. All depends on the final product not the way the initial photo was taken.

 

Kim Bemis

8 Months Ago

@Tiny and @Marlene
I have noticed that the attitude of other artists toward photographers is definitely changing. The two largest art leagues in my area are the Art League of Ocean City, Maryland, and the Rehoboth Art League (Rehoboth Beach, Delaware). Ocean City has always made sure that photographers are equally represented in shows and competitions. Rehoboth just announced some new photography shows and commented that this group has been under-represented in the past. So they are making an effort.

But these disagreements go on between all types of art -- that the water colorists are tying up all the show spaces, this other group does this or that and it is unfair to everyone else, etc.

I think the point is that if you like the type of artwork that you are doing, you should naturally feel proud of that genre and think it is the best, while still appreciating and encouraging others.

 

Yo Pedro

8 Months Ago

I've never been asked the question, but I have had it explained to me that I was not an artist, and that photography was not a "true art". Whether or not I agreed didn't matter, it was their opinion of what I did. Personally, I consider myself a craftsman. It's a comfortable place for me to be.

 

Tony Murray

8 Months Ago

No.

There are millions of photographers and very few artists among their ranks. Not all who hold a paintbrush and palette are artists either.

 

Kevin Callahan

8 Months Ago

This question on FAA is akin to asking a group of doctors if they like malpractice insurance. Mostly your "answers" are guaranteed.

 

Louise Reeves

8 Months Ago

Marlene reminded me of when I worked at Kohl's-we had to wear lanyards with our store ID. I was constantly asked by customers, "Excuse me, do you work here?" My standard reply was, "No, I just love their jewelry", holding up the ID. /end threadjack

It's possible people ask the question the OP has been asked due to being at craft fairs. People don't think photography is a "craft", they assume a craft is something like knitting or woodworking.

 

Edward Fielding

8 Months Ago

How about the ones who claim you are not a real photographer unless you only shoot on "manual". ;-)

 

Mary Bedy

8 Months Ago

Well said, Kim. The art world has room for many, many types and all sorts of media. Whether they are good or not, well that's either subjective (if you don't like their style or subject matter) or objective (if the work is clearly crap).

 

Greg Jackson

8 Months Ago

I've never had that question asked, but have had people tell me, "You should go get some pictures of...".


I've never figured out if that was a compliment or not, lol. :)

 

Kim Bemis

8 Months Ago

@Marlene, You are so right about sarcastic one-liners. They never work, and the people who ask about being an artist are not putting me down -- they seem to be genuinely curious about how I view myself.

@Louise, you might be right about the craft fairs. But the place where I was asked the most was at the Rehoboth Art League's yearly art show. I wonder if the question is asked because everyone takes pics with their cell phones, and they are wondering how they should think of themselves.

 

Kim Bemis

8 Months Ago

@Greg, yeah, I get that a lot, too. I guess it's a complement to be asked to take photos of certain views. After all, it is a place that clearly has inspired them. People like to give suggestions on how to sell my photography, so I take that as a complement.

I have had two specific requests where people have said they are interested in buying a specific view. They were interested enough to give me their email addresses for when they return to the beach this summer. Whether or not they end up buying the work or not, I now have two very beautiful and quite unique views that I think will sell. It is definitely worth listening to what people say they want to see.

 

Marlene Burns

8 Months Ago

wow! I learned something new today...I googled 'artist'.
Here's the big, bold, first up definition...so sorry photographers....sigh
art·ist
ˈärtist/Submit
noun
1.
a person who produces paintings or drawings as a profession or hobby.

 

Drew

8 Months Ago

"Are Photographers Artists?"
Are Painters Artist?

 
 

John Wills

8 Months Ago

Shouldn't the answer be that you're a photographer?

 

Edward Fielding

8 Months Ago

I've run into a narrowly defined notion of the photographer. People assume that photographer means landscape photographer. On two occasions I've had people ask me what I do. If I say I'm a photographer they says something like "oh there must be plenty of things to shoot around here" and they motion at the trees.

 

John Wills

8 Months Ago

Ed, you're basing an entire term off of your own personal experiences. What if you're at a show displaying your pictures and someone says "ah a photographer, and a good one", do you immediately respond with "no, I'm an artist". I'd look at that person as though they had 6 different and uniquely shaped heads if they said that.

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Kim Bemis

8 Months Ago

@Kevin,Steven,Floyd
I do take it as a complement being asked if I am an artist. It is a bit surprising, though, to be asked that question at an art show. But I think you are right that it is a way for customers to break the ice and start a conversation.

@Heidi. I like the fine art photographer. After all, there are many areas of photography. Wedding photographers are superb artists in their own right, covering one of the most important events in people's lives. Nevertheless, I know where you are coming from. I also have been asked to shoot weddings, which is something that I do not (think incapable) do.

One reason that this question of being called an artist came to mind is from what is happening in my locale. In the last year, two camera clubs have worked with the two major art leagues in the area to get better representation for photography. One art league sent out an announcement for a photo exhibition, along with a statement that photography has been underrepresented in the past. The other art league has clearly made an effort as well.

On the other hand, one of the best juried art shows in my area allows only a few photographers, making it very difficult to get into.

I wonder if others find that photography is underrespresented in shows and art leagues in their area?

 

I'm a photographer and I consider myself a visual artist.

 

Michael Hoard

8 Months Ago

Here are a few good one liners.


Oh, what magazine do you work for?

Why you ask, do I have too much paint on my face?

You bet I am?


Here in New Orleans, famed artist are side by side with photographers as well as photographer sharing limelight with an artist, no stigmas here. New Orleans has had many famous artist and photographers from the area. No one in there right mind would ask a photographer here in New Orleans if they considered themselves to be an artist, one of the most photographic places in the world, its architecture, food, its people the list is endless, captured by fine art photographers and fine artist.

What is very unique is most fine artist are photographers and most photographers are fine artist as well.

My camera goes with me everywhere I go, If I see an artist out painting in public I will stand next to them and take photos, they turn and look what are you doing, I reply I am making a visual painting with my camera, I am taking a photo of that bird, then I say opps it looks like that bird dropped something on your canvas and smile.

Also many times if I am in public, I will ask politely, would you move over a bit, I did not want you in my photo, I ran out of public release forms, I love it when people are so nice and see a photographer shooting and they will wait, now that is what I am talking about.

When I am out and about, I am always asked the question, what Magazine do I work for?



 

Edward Fielding

8 Months Ago

How about this question at an exhibit of abstract paintings?

"What were you TRYING to paint?"

 

Heidi Hermes

8 Months Ago

to continue Edward's comment...

"Did you mean to do that?"

 

Kim Bemis

8 Months Ago

@Edward, I have had people insist on waiting even for a few minutes for me to take a photo, so that they won't interfere with the shot as they walk by. Now that's respect, appreciation and a whole lot of patience. One person commented, "I know you might have only seconds for the right shot, and I don't want you to miss it." There are good people and lots of kindness still left in the world.

By the way, Edward, I only say this to give you a chuckle, what were you trying to paint? If someone goes to an abstract art exhibit and has to ask a question like that, you've got to wonder what they are doing there....

@Michael, I get asked the magazine question, too. I think people see that I am taking my work (too) seriously, or perhaps think that I am taking too many shots to be a casual photographer?

 

P S

P S

8 Months Ago

Just read this interview with Antoine D'Agata ( I think one of the most interesting and challenging of the Magnum photographers and artists working in photography today ). I've always viewed photography and the act of photography as being autobiographical when it comes to it as a form of art, but he takes it to a whole other level. The photographer as participator and not just a mere observer. That's Art.


"My object then is to get photography back to requiring true commitment, to being a language that is unique by its potential subtlety and rawness…a language resulting from personal experience, the product of situations the author finds himself in; so that photography is not a way to look at the world, but a way to live the world, to take position, to be of the world, in such a way that everything stands for something - distance, movement…so that photography is an entirely physically related art, purely existential, anchored in reality…which is what I try to explain and push for. It is that characteristic, unique to photography - to the exclusion of all other forms of art, which connects it to life itself, makes it a tangible presence. The photographer is then accountable not for his images, but for his acts." - Antoine D'Agata


ASX Interviews Antoine D'Agata - "A Simple Desire to Exist" ( 2014 )

 

Valerie Reeves

8 Months Ago

I have not been asked this often, but I would answer that my Fine Art degree allows my parents to think so. ; )

Heidi Hermes and Aron Kearney...love your answers as well!

 

Vincent Von

8 Months Ago

If they ask you if you are an artist you might say;"Oh no.......(shaking your head sideways)....absolutely not, I'm just showing off some snapshots I took."

 

Carol Lynn Coronios

8 Months Ago

Or, if they are really coming across as bourgeois, you can fall back on southern charm (but you have to lay on the accent) and say, "Why bless your heart, I do my best."

Edward & Kim, I, too, am ever-so-grateful for people who realize that the camera in front of your face is not a piercing. And I try to be as cognizant of those with little P&S or cam-phones - their images are important, too!

 

Carol Lynn Coronios

8 Months Ago

Philip, what a powerful quote! Thank you for sharing. Hope you/he doesn't mind if I share it further.

I also see a photographe as a historian. Whether it's architecture/dilapidated barns or portraits.

 

Paul Cowan

8 Months Ago

Are photographers artists? Goodness knows! I can think of one or two who are. But what sort of level of "art" is required? What is "art"?

 

Vivian ANDERSON

8 Months Ago

Well, yes! This is true commitment, from the viewpoint of Business...

http://fineartamerica.com/showmessages.php?messageid=1800498

 

Kim Bemis

8 Months Ago

@Heidi, I like the term fine art photographer.
@Aaron, Visual artist sounds even more professional.

Anyone can call themselves a photographer if they take pictures. To say that one is a "professional photographer" makes the difference. I don't mind what anyone calls me, artist or photographer. However, there are definitely images that come into the customer's mind when you use the word photographer.

Do people think that their customers think of photography as being on the same level as other artwork? In other words, if a customer sees your photograph alongside a painting that they also like, will they choose the painting, simply because it is art and your "picture" is not? Do customers have a bias toward other artwork, or is this not an issue.

 

Andrew Pacheco

8 Months Ago

Artist, craftsman, technician.... I think it's all semantics, and rests in the eye of the beholder. There is a perception held by many that photography is a technical skill, and that the camera does all the work...but that is just as true about paint brushes, charcoal and graphite, and even wood chisels. I think there are plenty of computer hardware technicians and back-hoe operators who are as much artists as any fine art painter.

 

Ginny Schmidt

8 Months Ago

in my opinion, ART IS IN THE HEART, and anyone who does something creative for the enjoyment of others is an artist - or at least an artiste, as mentioned previously.

i never really thought of myself as an artist, but i have always been creative - i paint, sew, knit, do woodwork, photography, and it seems my digital abstracts are quite popular. it was only after my friends began introducing me with "she's an artist" after my name that i thought, well, hell yeah - i guess i am!

what the words art or artist mean to others varies, and i know there is snobbery involved around classical training and years of study and exquisite technique and so forth. but in the end, as far as i am concerned, the purpose of art, whatever form it takes, is to delight the eye, speak to the heart, or engage the intellect - so if it does that, even if I don't like it myself, it is art, and whoever did it is an artist.

 

Mark Papke

8 Months Ago

I believe photography is an art form. I don't know if I would consider my self as a typical artist. I create art so I am, but also I don't feel like an artist. When I think of an artist I think of someone who is constantly creating in their mind what their next project will be. An artist is very passionate and is not happy unless they are creating art. I wouldn't say I'm passionate. I enjoy photography, traveling, and sharing it and it is nice to get comments but I am not sure what the driving force is for me. Is it the opportunity to make money off it that drives me or is it just going out and enjoying the beauty of nature and capturing it? I'm not really sure, I think probably both, but once I found this site I would say I became more driven, so maybe the money aspect is the higher driving force. I don't really enjoy going to art galleries and staring at other peoples art for hours. When I look at someones art it usually is maybe for the most part a minute or so, even for the ones I think are great. I don't really get inspired by other people stuff other than to get Ideas as to where to go sometime. I lose interest very easily. So buy the definition of an artist I am one, but I don't think I really have the spirit of a typical artist.

 

Steven Ralser

8 Months Ago

Many years ago I was at an art fair and one of the judges, who obviously didn't like photography said something to the effect that this photo doesn't look real.

Apples

I couldn't really respond then, it was my first biggish show, but I'm still pissed off about it. I'm doing that show again thus year - finally got accepted again.

 

Kim Bemis

8 Months Ago

@Steven, That's a great capture. If that's not real, then she should have told you that you must really be quite an artist. LOL.

I have a number of photos where I have done very minor editing. People like them, but say, "You must have photoshopped this." Meaning, I think, that I very heavily editied it to get the results. This is especially true of some of my sunrises/sunsets. My photo below is a perfect example. The original is quite a close color match, but people comment that sunrises are never that colorful.

Art Prints

@Mark, My high school art teacher emphasized that art is not about quantity, it is about quality. Some are able to capture in a moment what others need to spend hours doing. Even within my own work, I might spend hours setting up and waiting for just the right moment. Other pictures, including some of my very best work was captured in a short moment of inspiration.

 

Arlene Carmel

8 Months Ago

Kim, as stated before, this subject comes up from time to time. Interestingly there does not seem to be as many naysayers as there have been in previous discussions. We might have to give it some time. lol

All visual art requires a concept and process. IMO, I don't think the casual photographer who takes vacation pictures see themselves as artists. With that said, those of us who have the vision; who capture a subject, a moment in time, or create a composite or an abstract from those captures are artists. Photoshop et al are tools of the photographic artist. The basic foundation of photographic art is an image. The artist who creates with their hands use tools as well. Their basic foundation varies depending on what they are creating. But the vision, concept, and process requires artistic talent. The best compliment I have received is that I have the "eye" of an artist.

"Fine art photography is photography created in accordance with the vision of the artist as photographer. " I found this on Wikipedia. If you can't believe Wikipedia, who can you believe? ;-)

 

Jeff Sinon

8 Months Ago

@ Kim, "sunrises aren't that colorful" is usually uttered by people that get up at the crack of 10, and likely haven't seen a sunrise in person. That being said, there have been many times where I've felt the image needed to be toned down a bit because it didn't look real. And I was there, I know what it looked like.

As this was unfolding before me, all I could think was that nobody is going to believe it. This is actually the "toned down for believability" version.

Photography Prints

When it comes to mornings like this I realize it's Mother Nature who's the true artist. I'm just the dope with a camera who was there to capture it.

 

Kim Bemis

8 Months Ago

@Arlene, These are great points, and I like your wikipedia definition about fine art photography. The best line that I have heard about wikipedia is that it is like a wise old grandfather who simply knows everything about everything. But still, he is a little bit dotty....

 

Steven Ralser

8 Months Ago

I get the same with some of my sunsets. Here in the Midwest people can't believe these colors

Bosque sunset

I tell them it's a western sunset. Sometimes someone is in the booth who has seen a western sunset, and they will add that these colors are real.

I'm being interviewed for a neighborhood magazine, one of the question they are asking is what does photography to art that is different from other forms (e.g drawing, painting etc.). I'm going to use some of what I've read here to help answer the question.

I also have other images which people can't believe are photographs, especially this one when it's printed at 16x24

Fall leaves

 

Jim Southwell

8 Months Ago

It seems snobbery to me in the extreme. I saw earlier in this thread that there are "millions of photographers but very few artists". Who are we to judge what is "true art?" Is not art an expression of oneself through some medium? Cannot the lens capture beauty as does the paint brush or clay? For those of you who think you're the "true artist" while others are not, remember that there are those who would dislike your work and admire the latter. Art is in the eye of the beholder as they say. Drop the snobbery!

 

Jeff Sinon

8 Months Ago

As far as I'm concerned, "Art," just like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. The tools used to create it are meaningless, it's the end result that matters.

 

I agree with you Jeff, it's not about what medium has been used it's about the final result of what has been created and the love and passion that has been put into it. I have used all the mediums (oil paint, acrylic, pencil/charcoals, oil pastels, soft pastels, photography non-digital and digital, digital painting and so on...) and none is better than the other, I love them all the same and I consider them all Art. :))

 

Kim Bemis

8 Months Ago

In our FAA weekly update email, there is an article by Barney Davey entitled "20 Art-related Career Alternatives to a Full-time Art Career". It is a good article that gives great ideas for jobs that you could take to support your artistic endeavors. It is well worth a read. Nevertheless, I got a chuckle when I read career alternative #18:

18.Art photographer

In the context of his article, the suggestion fits well, but it still gave me a laugh. Here is the link:
http://artprintissues.com/2014/03/22/20-art-related-career-alternatives-full-time-art-career/

It reminds me of people that have suggested to me that if I need to support myself, I should 'get into' wedding photography, as it pays so well. It amuses me that people would suggest it as a less noble alternative to the artwork that I do. After all, aren't good wedding photographers providing people with fine artwork of the most important day of their lives?

 

This discussion is closed.