[Comment: A very popular use of our eyes is to look in shop windows; a very popular activity is shopping. And even if we don’t have any money we can window-shop, inspect the fascinating world of window displays. We who call ourselves “poor” forget how many things are totally free for our eyes. Free to see, free to take a picture of, free to bring home, free to show others as a trophy. That’s what I did with this little angel.]
Let’s talk attitude.
When it comes to attitude towards the audience my aim –in writing/thinking, composition (and also photography) — is to meet you halfway on the bridge.
I am not looking for anything instant, not a “like” (Oh, how nice/ beautiful!) and not “What the f*ck is this??”. I believe both the artist and the audience should take steps.
If I pre-chew everything for the recipient HE will not learn anything. If I just make a concept art-exercise and ask the viewer (in Emperor’s new clothes manner) to imagine things (as when calling a glass of water an oak tree, that just happens to look like a glass of water *) then I am not learning anything, more than being slightly clever. Then yours truly have it too easy.
* (Note re. the oak tree thing: “On one occasion when it was barred by Australian Customs officials from entering the country as vegetation, he [the artist, Michael Craig-Martin] was forced to explain it was really a glass of water.”)
No, let both parties work a bit and masticate. (The artist of course more than the viewer.) Here, as in philosophy, harmony is found in the right proportion. Not too little, not too much.
The same goes for beauty, something I am old-fashioned enough to consider important, but also worth pondering.
I am with Francis Bacon who said “there is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion”. What I consider a worthwhile, a viewwhile picture, should have some strangeness in it, something that makes you stop in your tracks and say “hm…”. Maybe even [in the voice of Wayne Campbell] “excellent…”
The amount of strangeness can vary, but should preferably never be totally absent. Otherwise we enter the world of BBB pictures (Beautiful But Boring/ Boring But Beautiful) and the showroom of bland, “pretty” and streamlined photography.
Here are some examples of BBB by yours truly. (I only show them as warning examples, for a hopefully deterrent effect.)
I used to like pictures like these, but today they are like city doves; too common. Let’s aim higher than that and cultivate our taste, both as photographers and lookers-on.
I might not sound like a “gentleman” here, but who cares? The situation is critical! We are drowning in BBB while there is a grave shortage of strangeness in our visual universe. I aim to contribute at least some small quantities.
And by the way, I still like doves.
What is a gentleman photographer? Let’s have some definitions.
Gentleman: a man of independent means who does not engage in any occupation or profession for gain
Gentleman farmer: a man who farms mainly for pleasure rather than for profit
Gent is also an adjective, meaning pretty or graceful, in other words gentle (Yin)
Thus, a “gentleman photographer” can be said to be somebody who takes pictures (not necessarily pretty) for the heaven of it — for his own mental, visual and visceral pleasure.
Ladislaus Horatius (composer, philosopher)