Big questions


Man, it’s been a little while since I’ve posted anything. I’m back though and have not forgotten about this. Can’t guarantee that this will be as regular as it once was, but I’ma get back. OK. Let’s see. Today’s menu looks to be lots of climbing photos and a little bit of demagoguery about what is and isn’t art & what defines a photo as uniquely my own .

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Abby on the Squamish classic, Crackhead [v3]

Abby and I were talking about what makes a photo art. We were actually talking in a broader sense, what makes anything art and the consensus was that, generally speaking, art is when a person takes a bit if reality, filters it through her mind and produces something that’s uniquely hers. For photography this is a hard definition to follow, since it’s a documentative form of expression. Taking the above definition, I think a photo becomes art when it captures a moment that’s not obvious or not perceived as it was: when through the use of light or other means the artist alters a scene to appear differently from how it looked in reality.

For example, color gels can alter a scene to be almost unrecognizable, to take it from a photo shot many times before to something that’s new and is more than just a photo of a subject.

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Footless Traverse [v5] can be not so footless with enough effort

But gels are an easy example of where the photo is altering reality and thus my own to some extent. Most of the photos in this post are artificially lit with a substantial amount of thought about the final result and the look I’m going for, which is something I’ve talked about before . But what about natural light photos? What makes those my own? It it the composition? What makes this photo mine? Where’s my ‘touch’, if you will, in this photo?

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Teal making the horrendous hold on Doja [v7] look cozy.

Sure, there’s thought that went into composing the shot, where I stand, knowing when to fire, and consideration of the ambient light; but replicating that shot is trivial. So what’s my part in it? Is it just those things? Does that make it art, or does that make it simply a craft where anyone with sufficient skill is equal? Surely not! Chase Jarvis, Gregory Heisler, and Steve McCurry have similar levels of technical mastery, but their styles are completely different and the photos they take will never look similar.

And, more importantly, when does technical mastery become art? Do you know? I don’t know. What about these two photos?

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Sarah burling down on the Schist cave roof line.
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headlamp ascent of unknown boulder in the Leavenworth 8 Mile Campground boulders

Are these art? I would probably say that the cave photo is just a nice picture, where as the headlamp ascent is closer to art. Although, to be honest I don’t know that anything here is Art, with a capital ‘a’. Maybe Art is about having something to say, and these photos just aren’t that vocal.

What I will argue however, is regardless of whether this is Art, these are all my photos, as I envisioned and shot them and that’s certainly a start.