Thursday, May 21, 2020

05/20 Making Photographs (part one - commercial photography)

In the same spirit that I created this blog in order to establish a chronology of where I’ve been in the last few years I’m writing this piece with a view to getting a clearer picture of what exactly I’ve been doing in the last few years as I make photographs.

So let’s break it down. All photography is not art. We know that. Just as all writing is not literature. Like writing, photography is a language. It can be an objective communication tool as well as a creative medium. So just because you make a photograph, it doesn’t make you are a de-facto artist. There are differences in intention as well as in application.

I wear many hats as a photographer. Sometimes I’m a commercial photographer, sometimes I make photographs as an artist, therefore as an art photographer, then I make photographs in a third category, and this is often the most problematic one; I make photographs as an “artistic” photographer. For the sake of clarification I will use portraiture to illustrate what I mean. Let’s begin with:

Headshots, Suzy Arioli, 1985, Montreal 


 Commercial Photography

A common characteristic of commercial photography might be that there is a client or a communication objective at the end of the equation. I include journalistic and editorial photography within commercial photography since they too have a precise audience and a precise function. When you get paid for commercial photography, you get paid for the value of its application, not for its value as a cultural artifact or for its value as art as interesting as it may be. The portraits I make of other artists for their use belongs in this category. I make the product for the benefit of the sitter. Record jacket covers are also what I mean by commercial or editorial photography. They can be exciting products but their value is commercial. The cover of the Beatles Abbey Road is an example of commercial portrait photography. The work that Annie Leibowitz does is commercial photography, even if in America it might earn her an exhibition ins some of the finest museums.

Note: I'd like to include journalism here but where does documentary end and street begin. Is the dividing line between working for an agency or independently? The object is to publish a reportage?
I don't do either of this but it opens up a discussion between content and form .