This is a discussion which I’m sure has long been debated between the pros, amateurs, techno-freaks, artists, and everyone in between. I’m sure we’ve all seen the paintings that have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars, which look like nothing more than random splashes on a canvas. For those of you who’ve seen the movie “My Kid Could Paint That” you’ll know what I mean. The film is a documentary about a little girl (3 or 4 years old) who was questionably selling her paintings for tens of thousands of dollars.
Speaking from a photography standpoint, or better yet -Â a DIGITAL photography standpoint, do you think fine art photography is a scam? What do I mean by this? Well, certainly in any artistic discipline there are the obviously truly outstanding, those who’s art is undeniably the work of pure talent/genius. However, when looking at some fine art photography I often think to myself, “I could do that!”Â This is not (in my opinion) a self centered view. I could just as easily be saying “You could do that” but I don’t know you, do I!Â
Let’s take a look at a real life example.Â The photo shownÂ here wasÂ taken byÂ Andreas Gursky entitledÂ “99 Cent II Diptych”. Now here is a nice duo of colourful wide angle shots of what appears to be a dollar store. Nice photo right? What if I told you that this just happens to be one of the most expensive photographs ever to be sold. This photo actually sold at the Sotheby’s auction in London for a whopping $3,346,456. How do you feel about the photo now?
Â The fact that someone paid for it means that this truly is worth it (to someone), but the question now becomes “Why?” This of course may never be answered, as only those individuals willing to pay for the fine art will know the answer. I have no doubt in my mind that the artist truly considers their work to be “thoughtful” art, and that the buyers feel the same way, and I am certainly not knocking the contemporary artists out there. What makes our hobby and our world so great is the fact that we all have individual thoughts and sovereign opinions. I have the utmost respect for those who try over those who do not, and I know that for every $3 million photographer there are millions ofÂ starving photographers trying to make it, and I commend them for doing what they do.
Take my photograph of the picnic table at the top of this posting. Look at it and ask yourself what it means to you. Did I have an underlying meaning when I shot this photo? Only I will know the answer (unless I reveal it to you). Upon reflecting on an image such as this, how much would it go for in the fine-art world? Hopefully I’ve given you all something to think about when you re-examine your works and future photos to be taken.Â To those of you who are in the world of contemporary art, no, I don’t think it’s a scam – however, I don’t yet have a complete understanding of it.