“You Are Here” is a (5) five part series discussing a variety of contemporary philosophic questions about photography. If you missed the two entries you’re in luck.
Enjoy Part 5…
When you get down to it and think about everything that can influence a photographer artistically and professionally it can be a bit overwhelming. Frankly anything under the sun could conceivably be an influence. To date in this limited series I’ve referenced peers, professionals/idols, goals/perceived identity and business influences. Yet no matter what your photographic goals there is one influence that is universal and often overlooked… the work of art masters.
I’ll be honest when in college I avoided art history as if it were the plague. One year a great thing happened to me though. I helped my girlfriend study for her art history exams. In the process of doing so I essentially got a crash course in the work of art masters covering 3-4000 years. The impact of that experience wasn’t obvious to me at the time, but over the years I’ve often reflected back on what I learned and pursued opportunities to visit art museums when ever possible.
In the larger context photography is a very new art form and photographers are often challenged about the artistic merit of the medium. As a result many often get caught up in their defense of the medium thinking that photographic work is exclusively unique. This couldn’t be more far from the truth. Photography shares numerous aesthetic principles with other visual art mediums from composition to texture to color theory.
In fact one could even say that the efforts of artists over the millennia have honed our understanding of visual presentation and viewer interpretation. It is for this reason that those interested in photography should take the opportunity to visit local museums, look for traveling shows of art masters and look up classic artwork online. Referencing, studying and understanding the work of art masters will not only be educational, but inspirational.
Art like technology is an evolutionary process. Artists gain inspiration from those who came before them and build upon their developments. When new mediums develop a divergent evolutionary path is created, creating a fork in the evolutionary tree. As different as those forging ahead in the new medium think they are they’re always tied back to the forefathers/mothers that came before them.
Thinking back to my earlier discussion of Photographers of Influence, if you dig deeper into the background of photographers you’ve noted as being of influence you’ll likely uncover some tie to other art forms. Many famous photographers have been influenced by family members who were artists or were themselves trained in other art forms. We may not all have parents who are artists or individually pursue formal training in the arts, but in this day an age it is relatively easy to gain access to view the work of art masters. In doing so we gain the opportunity to learn about them, their influences, the styles they helped develop and the resulting impact they made on not just the art world, but the world in general. In the process of learning about art masters and their work you might just uncover distant memories that were a factor in your journey to photography and gain new found inspiration.
[tags]photography, influence, journey, art, photograph, philosophy, You Are Here[/tags]