If you've been wondering about the lack of updates to the site, the answer's simple – Business is good, very very good, and as a freelance photographer, work has to come first. Over the last few years my business has changed a lot - I used to be able to keep pretty much everything about David Gold Photography in my head, but as the workload has grown I’ve enlisted the help of my older son Ewan and my wife in what is now a family business. I’m a lucky man in that my business life and passion for photography are one and the same thing. It’s great. I even get paid....well, mostly.... See my blog for more on that.
However, for the first time in over a year pages are being updated. Over the next few weeks the site will change slightly and then be moved to a new hosting service, so apologies for any broken links or missing pages as this goes on.
Over the last few years I’ve also been heavily involved with my local camera club. I’ve just finished two years as President of the Mearns Camera Club and It has been fascinating to get to know a whole other part of amateur photography, and to spend a lot of time with other photo enthusiasts at varying stages of discovering just how wonderful photography is. Competitions are a major part of camera club life and there is some controversy there just now over heavily photoshopped images. When does a photograph stop being a photograph and become art?
OK - I think we’ve agreed that Photography is art.
But can Art be photography?
One major fascination for me in looking at both club and professional photography is that they are moving in opposite directions. My hero photographer has always been Henri Cartier Bresson whose mission was to capture the ”Decisive Moment”. Not to make it, but to capture it. Life. Real life. Professional photography has embraced the freedom that’s come with digital SLRs so that my business clients no longer want formal portraits but instead pay me to take images of their executives looking like they actually did some work. I was never a big fan of the wood panelled boardroom style of portrait, so for me this is bliss. Being paid to take “real” pictures. Perfect. Even wedding photography has slowly moved to at least a mixture of set groups and lots of “PhotoJournalism” pictures. Unposed? Well, sometimes at least. Even press photographers no longer want to get an exclusive posed celebrity portrait - they want to catch them on holiday, or walking down to the shops. Why? So that it looks “Real”.
All of that means that it has come as a surprise for me to find that that camera club photography is going in the opposite direction, and is trying so hard to be “art” that it sometimes hurts to look. Camera club life is dominated by competitions and the scene here in Scotland, and in most of Europe it would seem, is dominated by photographers whose work is much more art than photography. This is not to say it’s bad art, just that the extremely contrived, heavily Photoshopped composite images that often win are simply not what most people consider to be photographs. It seems crazy, but in national club photography competitions we appear to have reached the point where the last thing that will win is anything that looks like a normal photograph.
Photographers who “just” take photographs like my hero Cartier Bresson would have absolutely no chance of winning a national competition any more. Would Henri have taken a kissing couple from Paris and superimposed them on a background of a cafe in Seville, replaced the distracting floor covering with a texture created entirely in Photoshop, then added a sky from Arizona? Many “creative” competition entries are now constructed like this.
The question is : Are they still photographs?
To me a photograph is one camera and one click. OK, we’ve always waited for the best light then cropped the image, lightened bits, even darkened the sky - Ansel Adams did a LOT of that. So manipulation isn’t new, it’s just that we can now do so much more, and more easliy. It’s inevitable then that some photographers will push back the boundaries between painting, graphics and photography, and good luck to them. Some of the results are superb, and good art is good art - I’m just not sure that many of them are what people think of and understand as photography. To me that will always be a camera, one click and an end result that at least has some relationship to reality.
So when you pick up your camera: Are you a photographer, or an artist, or both?
Whichever you are - Have fun !