My Theory of Photography

My first point to make: I am no professional photographer. I am simply an amateur– a passionate amateur however. Before you continue reading, please check out my photography page (<–click).

Now, looking through my page, I’m gonna be straight up honest– a good amount of those photos aren’t “wow” or amazing. A good amount I might even say aren’t good quality. However, what I want you to notice is not the pictures themselves, but the captions. And so keeping this in your mind, I will now dive in to my view of photography.

Society has a big misconception of art. Artworks that look good or unique are praised, and those that aren’t are immediately bashed. A regular person visiting an art museum would most likely look at just the pretty pictures and statues, and say “Wow that looks great” then move on.

Duchamp and his “Fountain”

The artist that defied this (and my favorite artist of all time) was Marcel Duchamp. He embodied the concept of anti-art– if you look at this artwork “Fountain,” it is quite literally  an urinal turned upside down. When first shown, people were outraged– how in the world could this be art? A disgusting piece of urinal cannot be art! The art exhibition show that presented it was looted, and sadly, to this day, there is no surviving piece of Fountain– it was so scandalous it was destroyed.

Going back to Fountain, however, is it art or not? I asked my friends– and a majority of them said no. True, common sense tells us it can’t possibly be art. But that’s because we are living by the societal definition of art, a definition that needs to be fixed.

I argue the Fountain is art because it makes you think. Duchamp’s art was never meant to be visually appealing; in fact, he was fighting against the standard societal norm that good art has to be visually appealing. Rather, I believe that art should be mainly emotionally and intellectually appealing rather than visually appealing. Just looking at Fountain makes you think– what is art really? Is this art or not?

Same with any other art like photography. I remember going on a Facebook group called “Photographers on Facebook,” and as I scrolled through the pictures, it was the same thing over and over again– close-ups of animals and flowers, shots of lightning, pictures of sunsets, etc. The only real meaning behind these pictures? Just because it’s “wow” or good-looking. After a few days on the group, I left because my eyes were being destroyed just looking at these generic pictures over and over again. In other words, good picture quality doesn’t set you apart, and good picture quality alone is in the end just a documentary of the subject– not an art.

I’d call this art– taking a picture of a blank white wall. Probably nothing too good to look at, but I’d find it beautiful– no, not the photograph, but the concept itself is beautiful. A blank white wall. For some, it may convey a feeling of emptiness, lack of activity. For others, it could simply be just a white wall. For me, the very idea that it is a white wall, with no subject, no portrait, no nothing, but whiteness– that excites me. The very feeling that it rebels against the conventional standards of photography. Amazing.

My photo “Second Time Around”

The point is, people in general take photography too literally– they focus only on the beauty of the photo, not the concept itself. And that’s the point of my photography page– when I post a picture of a guy walking, I don’t really mean, hey, look at that guy walking. I mean, look at the way he walks. Look at the way he slumps his shoulder. Look at that shadow following him– it’s more than a shadow. Look at what he’s carrying– it’s more than just a trash bag. Then look at the intense sadness that radiates from all those details combined.

If I were to just post a photo, nobody would get it. That’s why I back it up with captions– I want to show people that viewing photos is more than just what’s being seen, but that it can be deeper. And that is the kind of photography I aim at promoting.


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