I wanted to write a little something about art. I hope you'll indulge me.
This week I was questioned as to why a put a brand on the photos that I take at conventions. To be honest, I just thought the person was asking a genuine question and I was at work and quickly banged out an answered. But the comment came back that they still didn't understand, because they were just photos.... Just. Photos. Once again I responded quickly that they were my art and therefore I sign them with my brand. But this was still met with incredulity, and questioning as to whether I was a professional (with two question marks), when I said no I wasn't, and what's the problem, I was told I was being rude and that maybe I just shouldn't post my photos if I am precious about them - or something to that effect. I blocked the person at that point because by now I was upset, and needed to get back to what I was doing!
This all came about because I noted in a tweet that a lot of people - like a lot - were tweeting me with icons that were from my photos and when I looked at their Twitter headers they were also my photos. This is awesome of course and very flattering, and I love that people love my photos, but I also noted that it's always nice to ask, I would be bound to say yes, and hells, I'd even make you a header if you like (I actually made two for people that night).
The thing is, for whatever reason, jetlag, tiredness, busyness, the tweeter's comments about me signing my photos actually got under my skin. I'm not entirely sure why, because in my day job I constantly get feedback, and it's water off a ducks back.
I'm a promo producer, and my job involves coming up with a concept, then writing, editing and producing that concept as a promo for television. To that end, I have people who approve my work - just as I approve the work of the team I oversee. I both produce and manage. Everyday I'm told, that shot's not right, that music is wrong, change that script line... etc. It's part of my daily routine to hear my work needs work, or isn't quite right, and I'm pretty good at what I do! I do get spots that sail on through with a big thumbs up, but when other creative people are assessing your creative there are a lot of opinions!
So to question creative of mine is not something I am unused to...but for some reason, this it's just a photo thing, really stuck in my craw.
I've taken photos all my life. I had a camera when I was a kid. I did photography for my art major work for my final year of high school, developing all my own photos - hours and hours in the darkroom with toxic chemicals. It was back in the day when we used film!
I stopped taking photos for the longest of time. My camera got packed away, I got on with life and forgot how much I used to enjoy going to the zoo to take photos of the animals, or going to a parade to capture humanity celebrating.
Then I started to going to conventions...
I really started getting back into photography because I just wanted to have a memory of the convention experience. But the more I fell in love with the people on stage, the more I wanted to capture what I saw and felt - what they made me feel. I upgraded from a very good point and shoot to a DSLR after my second con. Then I upgrade my lens. I looked at the fan photographers I admired like Stardust and Melancholy, and AmyShapped and aspired to produce the quality they did. But I also realised, I had a different eye.
We all look at the world through our own personal lens, and that's what makes photography so interesting and intimate, everyone sees the world in a different way, and that is represented in the photo frame. Whether it's raw emotion, or gleeful happiness, whether it's a certain colour grade, or a certain way the image is framed, everyone has a different style. One image can be captured many different ways.
Most of the fan photographers are not professionals, and most do not aspire to be professional, but that does not make their care and passion any less. They spend money on their equipment, they spend money on the cons, they spend hours and hours editing photos and sharing moments with fans who may never, ever get the opportunity to see the people they love in person. They share a moment, a personal moment they loved, for other people to enjoy. I think putting your name to that is not only deserved, it should be done as a position of pride.
This, of course, does not just go for photography, it's goes for any art that you do. Whether you are an amazing painter like Petite Madame, or Scout Villegas, or an incredible sculpture like HR, or whether you just love to draw, or paint, and you know you're no Picasso, but you love doing it, pour yourself into it, and you take pride in it...it's just as important. It's art.
Whether you spend hours creating a fanvid, or writing a fic. Whether you knit tiny little characters, make incredible skirts out of comic con bags, create jewellery, or purses, or toys, or pillows, or quilts....or whatever it is you create. It's art.
No matter what you are creating, or the level at which you do it, you are creating art, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Feel proud to sign it and share it, and in return expect that to be respected.
Art is hard. All art. Creating something from nothing - no matter what that is - is hard.
Many people came to my defence and I love you all for that, most people were just as baffled as me and saddened by the dismissive nature of the comment that it was just a photo. I don't know the person, and I don't know if they were just stirring Internet shit, having a bad day, got upset by my responses, truly don't see photography as art, or just don't think much of my stuff...it doesn't matter. It's important to respect other people's passion and creativity, and ownership of that, because you do not know how important it is to them, and what it means to their soul. Respect the artist, they deserve it.
I don't consider myself a photographer, no do I like using that word in relation to me, but that's just my lack of self confidence in what I do. I wish I could be better, and to that I upgraded my camera and my lens this year! I've actually found myself thinking about getting the camera out outside of a convention and going and taking some shots around town...something I haven't done for ages! I like some of my photos, and I don't like a lot. But I see that I have improved, and I can see that I have a particular style, a lens that I see the people I love through. And that is art...it's my art, and I will sign it, and I will share it, because I know people enjoy it and that makes me happy.
Be proud of your art, no matter what it is. Be proud to share it. Be proud to own it.