Thursday, June 18, 2015

Don't Just Take Pictures, Make Art

Editor Brooks Jensen writes in the Editor's Comments of the May-June 2015 Lenswork Magazine:
Don't just take pictures, make art.
By this I specifically mean finish things -- be it an exhibition, a Blurb book, a website gallerly, a PDF or whatever else makes sense for your process and your content. The very act of committing to something all the way through to completion is one of the best ways to learn. 
I use to say that putting together an exhibition, especially your first one, was a huge learning experience. I'm not doing shows any more but I need the discipline of completing a project. It is nice to come home from a trip or a shoot and run though the images, mark some as the best of the lot. Maybe process one or two for FaceBook or the Blog. But nothing, absolutely nothing, is like deciding that the product of the project will be an exhibition or a boxed portfolio with an artist's statement, or a book that is designed and laid out with templates and text.

It is fine to say this is a nice image and so is this one. I like this too. But when I have to narrow down the shoot from 500, 1000, 2500 files to 20 or 25 for an exhibition, 15 or 20 for a boxed portfolio and maybe 150 for an affordable self-published book, that is when it starts to become a learning experience. Which images are the best of the best. Which images tell a cohesive story.

Then the images have to be processed so that they will be the very best prints I can make with a consistent look. It tests my technical knowledge but the other thing that is happening is that I am learning where my shortcomings are in making images. From that I learn to make the next project better.

Jensen is right. Don't just take pictures, make a finished piece of art.

The image above is Palermo, Sicily, made from the upper terrace of our hotel. And, yes, it will be in the Blurb book about Sicily that I'm working on.


  1. And it is a process I never get around to. My imaes end u in digital files that I never again see -- unless they end up in a post.

  2. I love your commitment to your "art". It brings joy not only to you but to all of us that see the finished product.