I am not an artist. Despite the fact that photography is considered an art form, and is my passion, I need to stop striving to consider my work as art. My work would be considered photojournalism, and I have finally come to terms with that fact.
You might think, that's obvious. This is a blog after all, the hobbyist version of a news publication. And it's a blog about tourist spots around my part of Wisconsin. Automatically that makes it photojournalism. But, and I think you might agree with me, all photographers want their work to be elevated to art, despite the fact that art is subjective. In 2015, I struggled with the fact that I didn't think my photography would never be featured in a gallery or sold at the Lakefront Festival of the Arts. I struggled with the fact that my photographs were simply "snapshots".
The word "snapshot" has become a bit of a dirty word in photography. It has come to mean a photo that anyone with a cell phone can take, even though the software on some of these phones can turn any photo taken into art. But, what makes a picture taken with your fancy camera (or your phone) into a "photograph"? According to David Peterson, who wrote on Digital Photo Secrets, photography "should have some quality that makes the viewer either feel an emotion or think about a concept." And I think that's the best way to put it. A photograph, as art, should be something not normally seen (like with street photography) and/or makes you go "Wow!" (like a great landscape).
|Community United Methodist Church, Elm Grove, Wisconsin|
Great photojournalism can do this as well. In fact, the greatest influence in my photography has been old issues of Life magazine. When I was in middle school, my mother bought a copy of Life's 50th anniversary edition, over a thousand pages of photographs from the magazine's history that featured the greats such as Margaret Bourke-White, Gordon Parks and Robert Capa among others. I poured over those photographs for hours, over and over again. But, everyday photojournalism informs more often than it inspires. In fact, photojournalism is supposed to be just a snapshot. Photographers who work for the Associated Press cannot manipulate or stage their photos for ethical reasons, a topic that made news last year.
I'm happy to consider myself a photojournalist. I like informing people, through my photos, of great places, fun events, and the beautiful areas I get to visit week after week. Are they snapshots? A resounding "Yes!" My goal is to see my work in magazines, both online and in print, not hung on a wall. That makes me a photojournalist. My resolution for 2016 is to embrace this label and stop worrying if I will ever be an artist.
|Old World Wisconsin|