I am changing direction slightly for this week to address an issue that has been raised with me on numerous occasions by many people. That is the question "is photography really Art". People say to me from time to time that photographers just push a button take an image and then can just put it into photoshop and manipulate the image, where as a painter has to do a lot more work. I won't argue that the detail in many paintings are incredible and leave me in awe of the talent involved. People will often say to me you must have tons of great images of Athassel abbey or The Rock of Cashel and I have a small number from each. You see when you go to create a really good image as a photographer a few things have to come togeather to really make your image special. The weather has to be right, the light has to hit your subject in the right way and you have to go back many times to an area at different times of day and different times of year. I personally do not use photoshop, I prefer to put the time into taking my images at the right time and in the right conditions rather than sitting at a computer tweeking images, but that is only my own personal opionion. To me photography is about trying to get everything right before you press the shutter button, to create a little bit of history. Thats right you capture a little bit of history each time you take a photograph, because it is next to impossible to recreate and get every single element in the image the same , you have frozen a moment in time. People also think photographers and think of weddings and family portraits, confirmation or first communion. The majority of people find it hard to understand someone trying to make a living only producing wildlife and landscape images, most of which are sold as framed images for your wall. Yet in every other country around the world this is considered normal, people say these countries have bigger populations so you have a large customer base, they also have more photographers. This situation is improving with more exhibition spaces and more interest in original art works rather than the framed poster of someplace you don't even know. The public are begining to ask for something that means something to them or that moves them in someway.
This raises another question why buy of one person and not another, price will be key, but that should not be the only criteria. You have to ask yourself is this artist attracting attention, don't accept the artists word, if they say in their blog, award winning ask what awards was it national or international or was it more local. One of the best ways to judge is if awards were given by their peers, did other photographers or artists feel that this persons work was good enough to be rewarded. Ask the artist if their work is represented by a gallery, or if they have work in art collections etc. If you are going to pay for a piece of art why not try to pick up a piece that has a realistic chance of proving an investment in the years ahead. Photography is proving to be a great way for people to start their own art collection without breaking the bank. I suppose the bottom line is I truly believe that photography when done well and with the right subject matter is truly Art, but every person will and must make up their own minds. You may prefer to have a water colour or oil on your wall and your neighbour may prefer to have a black and white photograph, because if we all liked the same thing life would indeed prove very boring. I have only gone back to creating black and white images in the last couple of years, but there is little doubt that they have a timeless quality that most people love. The most important thing as far as I am concerned is that people expose themselves to art, go and visit the local exhibitions open your mind and heart to art. We are not the free loaders that many think, few artists will ever make enough money to gain tax free status, but we can prove valuable in promoting the county and the country. Tourists to Tipperary and Ireland love to have exhibitions and art events to visit, its one more thing to do while they are here. Personally I have always tried to promote Tipperary and Ireland wheather I am exhibiting in Ireland or abroad, and I am quiet sure that most artists feel the same.