Lately, I have been struggling with the thought of “what is art?” Yes, I just opened that can of worms. However, ask yourself “is art relative or subjective?” In the beginning of his career Paul Strand was told by Alfred Stieglitz to stop imitating and start creating. Strand was imitating the photographers of his time and the pastoralism movement. This movement was an answer to the criticisms of “traditional” artist (painters.) They claimed that photography was not an art. Stieglitz was one of the most powerful photographers at the time and he helped escort in this era. Nonetheless, he knew that art was an ever-changing medium and art today is not necessarily the same art tomorrow.
Fast-forward to today and a blurry image like the ones in the pastoralism will get you nowhere fast. We have become accustomed to sharp images. Does that mean that we do not produce art or does that mean that Strand and Stieglitz did not make art? Here is where I struggle. One side I have photographers telling me to follow my “vision” and others telling me that my creativity should be restrained and shaped by what the client wants. Yes, I have mouths to feed, but I have things to say also. I have vision, but my sons one day will probably want to go to college and I will have to pay for tuition. But to hop on board with the bandwagons of photographic trends is to drown out your unique photographic style. The double-edged sword of art is a tricky thing and I realize why many artists go into depression.
I say all this to say that there is a balance; though, I have not found it and I don’t know if I ever will. However, above is my take on it, in light of pastoralism.