The Problem With Photography
Yesterday I endured the acquaintance of an extremely heavy, cumbersome and joyless piece of apparatus commonly known as a ‘camera.’ As some of you know, I have been asked to produce over twenty images of jars of home-made paint for a forthcoming exhibition at Forum Cafe, Sheffield. Whilst I am delighted at this prospect, it has also enabled me to ponder the virtue of photography as a means to communicate.
I have been using photography as a means to document for years now. The pictures I take are never deemed the actual work. They are used to share and promote my work with an audience, and to exchange ideas and correspond with other artists. They are also useful personally, to compare and analyse your own work in context. I have never, however, used photography solely to portray an idea. Here’s why:
- As a tool, the camera removes the artist from a subject to such an extent that coherence in communicating an idea is compromised. A camera will bound a concept to its own limitations, and the artist has little hand in emphasising that which they wish to depict.
- Your inherent perception of the physical world is lost as a compromise must be made between yourself and the viewfinder. The experience of taking pictures feels absent and you can’t immerse yourself in the experience; and if you can’t, how can an audience?
- Painting is able to capture the essence of life whereas photography conveys nothing other than the face-value of life: A photograph conveys an almost binary sense of reality, whereas painting conveys the complexity of reality.
- Image manipulation packages such a Photoshop render all imagery unreliable. Truth is lost in favour of achieving a perfect image.
- The main problem I have with photography is that, often, photographs say more about the camera than the person behind it. Any pleb can take a half-decent picture these days, and I am no exception. Everybody thinks they are a good photographer, but hardly anybody thinks they’re a good painter.
So, that’s the problem I have with photography. Hasn’t stopped me from completing a series of work comprised entirely of photographs though! If artists can’t completely contradict themselves then what can they do?! You can see this work at Forum Cafe, Sheffield, From August 12th until September 23rd. You can find more details here: