“Picture, artist! Do not speak! Only a breath is your poem.” GoetheRecently, I was judging a fine art photography competition. The quality of the different portfolios presented by the participants, the subjects approached, executions and styles were quite diverse, but in general the level of most entries was quite high.
I was pleased when I explored the different portfolios, feeling my imagination wander as I observed the different images and tried to decipher their hidden messages, trying to see the world through the glass colored by the personal vision of each particular photographer. The pleasure, however, stopped abruptly when I landed on the ‘statement’ of the portfolio. All of a sudden, the mystery was gone and a strong migraine came in its place.
Why is it that most photographers wanting to make their work stand out as ‘fine art’ feel forced to engage with flowery verbiage, dense and sticky like an oil spill on the beach?
Don’t get me wrong – I am not against the verbalisation of purpose, intent or aspiration on the part of the photographer. In fact, I think it could be a good exercise in trying to discover whether there is indeed a true concept behind a set of photographs, that is, a real motivation that transcends the pure aesthetic qualities of the subject depicted...