photography as a creative endeavour
I’ve been reading Art & Fear, and it has been striking a lot of chords with me on a very basic level.
Unfortunately, it also hits a slightly ‘off’ note. I’ve casually mentioned before that I’ve enjoyed photography a lot more since going digital because when I shot slide film, once the exposure was made, my job was done. I sent them off for development and received them as a finished article (I’m going to ignore my own E6 processing in terms of this discussion). I never did get a decent print made, although after getting a couple of straight prints I was very disappointed by the lack of vibrance in the colours I was originally so amazed by (Velvia, of course) and although I liked the sound of cibachrome, it was entirely too much hassle and too much expense, for the half hearted postcard shots I had produced.
Now I consider photoshop to be at least half of the process of my photography at the moment – and that’s not to say that the composition and pre-exposure work is 50% – I’m just leaving out the other 30% that would be taken up by the nightmare that I haven’t started getting into yet: printing…
Anyway, as much as I consider photoshoppery to be a craft of its own merit, and even more so than development in the darkroom because it’s not global – I apply the changes to each individual image and even then, to different areas of the image, in essence doing something akin to painting – it still has a certain clinical feel to it. My judgement of a good application of photoshop is when it’s invisible in the final work – a million miles away from admiring brush strokes on a painting or stitchwork on an embroidered panel! I spend my time at the computer trying to avoid pixellation, colour casts, halos, posterisation, and noise, trying almost to pretend that I haven’t been messing with the pixels, as originally captured.
It has highlighted the lack of ‘craft’ that I’m feeling is involved in my photography, less than if I was painting or sculpting. I wonder if I would feel the same way of doing printing in a darkrooom? I think I’ll find that out soon enough, if I can produce some decent (obviously the term is applied loosely in this instance) negatives with my new Holga, I’ll be having a go at it anyway!
I think this may be related in some way to an urge I’ve been having for some time now to get involved in alternative printing processes, from using watercolour paper to doing all sorts of transfers and generally just making a bit of a mess in the process of producing a final print. Something that I don’t have to be ashamed of, and try to hide in the resulting image… rather something that actually gives it more life, and more of myself, the mark of my own hands.
As a quick final note, I’d also like to consider how people think a photographer can put more of themselves into their photographs at the point of creation, at the point of exposure? What is it that shows the mark of your own hands on an original capture, pre-process/printing?
What’s the ‘craft’ element in photography, besides the work of producing a print?