Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Art of the Mechanical Eye

Since its inception photography has been both cursed and blessed by the technical aspects of the medium. The "mechanical eye" of the camera has been criticized by many as cheating- as a way of creating imagery seemingly without skill. In some ways this is true- for example those of us who can not draw a straight line, as the saying goes, can at least photograph one. However, the ability to capture an artistic image is a skill and a supremely creative endeavor. Anyone can take a picture of something, but skill is involved when it comes to creating an artistic image. At first blush the difference appears to be in name only, one implies the taking of something that is already complete while the other speaks to making something out of nothing, but the difference is bigger than that- it is enormous. It is what sets an artistic photographic work apart from a snapshot. The difference is that one speaks for the artist, explaining what he has to say using a visual language that we can all understand while the other is simply a visual record of a time and place.

The unblinking eye of the camera creates powerful images in the hands of the artist because it is an extension of that artist's mind. The camera recreates an exact replica of what it finds in front of itself, true, but it is the artist that determines what it is pointed at. The mind of the artist is determining what is captured within the frame of that camera. Fifty photographers could all go out to photograph the same outcrop of rocks on a hillside and the viewer would see fifty different styles of imagery. This is because the photographs are of the artist's state of mind, not simply of the rocks.

We sometimes forget what photography is. Photography is a magical world where artists can translate thoughts and ideas into photographic images that we can all see and easily relate to in some way. Fantastic.

Speak your mind, make a picture.


1 comment:

  1. Might I suggest that you have someone from the office try to post at least once a week. I think it might help to generate interest and keep your current followers. You could also solicit guest aricles from WWA members, although that would require having someone to moderate.