I took this photo in February of 2010, and it has since garnered a fair bit of attention.
In the fall of that same year, I was selected to be a contributing artist for a literary journal called The Grove Review. While delays in publishing mean that this is still “coming soon,” this image was the one they finally settled on as the one they wanted to feature.
More recently, I submitted 5 photos for consideration in the Annual Member’s Showcase at Newspace Center for Photography, and they selected this image to be included.
I like this photo quite a bit – it’s unique and interesting – but it’s not my usual style of photography, nor would it rank if I were to make a list of my top 10 favorite images that I’ve created.
Why, when selecting only 5 images to submit for the showcase, would I choose an image that doesn’t make my top-10 list? Glad you asked.
In my journey from hobbyist to professional photographer, I’ve learned a great deal more than just how to take good pictures. I’ve also learned that people value many different things for many different reasons. When going through my portfolio with clients to choose art for their walls, I’ve never once had a client stop at this image and say “wow, that would look really good over here!” They find it interesting, then move on to find a beautiful landscape or floral shot for their wall.
And yet, when I submit those same beautiful landscapes to juried exhibitions in the art world, they are almost always turned away. What’s going on?
I actually asked for feedback after a submission including this image from the Columbia Gorge was rejected, and I was told that my images looked “too much like something you would see in a magazine.”
. . . so, I’m going to try not to sound too cynical here, but don’t magazines usually feature “good” photography? Like, you know, pretty pictures . . . right? Well, when it comes to art in a gallery, this is apparently not the goal. Better to take a photo left-handed with an expired disposable camera, then project it onto crumpled paper. Most of the audience won’t know that the paper is crumpled like that because you used it to cover the window in your first apartment when you were still a “starving artist,” but the few who read your artist statement will get it.
Whoa – this guy is good. Definitely worth the $14,000 price tag.
Ok, I think I failed at not sounding cynical. There is a great deal of genuinely creative and interesting art out there – stuff that really does inspire me and others to consider a new perspective, etc. It just seems to me that the search for things that are edgy or different has pushed the appreciation for things that are simply aesthetically beautiful almost completely out of the world of fine-art photography.
Fortunately, this only seems to apply when you are “in the art world.” Back on planet earth, where people are choosing art for their own homes, offices, and clinics, people do seem to appreciate images that are simply beautiful, even if they aren’t strange or “cutting edge.”
I enjoy stretching boundaries a bit, and certainly hope that part of my exploration as a photographer will always include experimental images and the pursuit of the interesting, but I also find great value in the simple beauty that I see everywhere in nature, and I’m sure that it will continue to inspire me to take these “magazine” images for years to come.
So, even though I originally titled this photo because the image itself reminded me of the dendrites in our brains, it has come to embody its title with far more gusto, offering a small psychology lesson for me as I continue to explore the world of photography.