Less luck, more creativity

I recently downloaded Hipstamatic onto my iPhone, after having heard people raving about how great it is. It’s an app that, when you take a photo with the phone, applies a crop and various filter effects to the image. You get to select the processing broadly by choosing what “film”, “lens” etc to use, but fundamentally you don’t really have any control of how the image will turn out other than what you point and shoot at.

I got quite into it, at first. I spent about half an hour pottering about, gleefully taking pictures. It was fun. The results were cool. I took the picture on the right. I thought “hmmm that’s quite interesting, quite cool, I’ve created a nice image there…”

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There’s so much stuff out there these days; photos, video, “digital art”, whatever that is; and it’s production seems to be increasing at an exponential rate. Along with this outpouring of creativity comes an equally vast amount of critique about what’s good and what’s not. I use the word ‘critique’ in it’s loosest possible sense, as so much of it takes the form of the very briefest of comment, “that’s cool” or “that’s crap”; which suggests to me an equally brief amount of thought has gone into the assessment. With so much media to look at, I suppose it’s inevitable that rapid assessments become compulsory, but I think it’s important to regularly take some time to really figure out what makes a piece of work good or not. I also think it’s more beneficial to establish the good bits rather than pick out the bad. Identifying ‘good bits’ can form inspiration and ideas on which directions to explore with one’s own work.

So, watch this video from director Jack Henry James and inspiring company ‘Really Creative Media’, and I’ll pick out just a few of the things which I think make it fantastic.

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Copyright law should be changed

I am fed up with the copyright laws in this country. Yet again, a national newspaper (who I cannot currently name for legal reasons) has published several of my photographs without permission or payment. Why have the done this? Simple, because with the law as it is, it is in their best interest to do so.

The core of the problem, I believe, is that there is no penalty in of itself for breach of copyright. In this instance for example, all I can legally do is ask the paper for fair payment for the images they have used. What’s fair payment? The going market rate, which ultimately is decided by the purchaser, as something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. So the images are only worth whatever the paper would be willing to pay for them. I could ask for £500 and they could merrily refuse and say they will give me £5.

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The camera never lies

What is it about photographs? No matter how many news stories break about faked photographs or how many magazine covers feature ludicrously thinned down celebrities, people still believe photographs are “real”. Isn’t it strange that an attitude which evolved in the 19th century, at the dawn of photography, still garners such strong attitudes; “The camera never lies”. Nonsense. A photograph is never a true depiction of reality because 2D static images are not how we, as human beings, experience reality, so they are always interpretive.

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The value of art: scarcity over merit

An interesting article from the Guardian: Britain’s photographic revolution

It reports that the big art institutions in Britain are finally embracing photography as a legitimate art form. It discusses how America embraced photography so enthusiastically in the mid 20th century with the social and economic reasons why. It also cites examples of private London galleries having held photography exhibitions for several years and that the ‘big guns’, like the Tate, are only now catching up with contemporary art photography.

The article also touches on the value of art photography and how sale prices have risen, citing this as evidence that photography is now being taken seriously. This makes me sad.

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Beauty and art

I’ve been pondering over the difference between beauty and art in what I, and other “artists”, do. Now, clearly a lot depends on your definition of art. My definition of art is something which has been created or arranged in such a manner as to try to stimulate emotions and thoughts. I think this can be generally simplified into the statement that ‘art should say something’. I think beauty on the other hand, does not need to say anything, it just is; or isn’t, depending on the eye of the beholder.

Another thing I recently heard somewhere is that art has no purpose other than as art. This is another way in which I think art differs from beauty, because I think beauty can be expressed in more ways than just one (aesthetics); in that, something can be done in a beautiful way. I have realised that a lot of the things I like in life, I like because they are beautiful in more ways than one.

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