It is a little ironic how I have turned to art photography as a hobby, especially given my precarious relationship with photography in the past. I would not say that I had a love-hate relationship with the subject. I always liked photography and believed myself to have a slight aptitude for it, but during my travels in the Middle East I was always self-conscious about being perceived as that stereotypical tourist snapping photos every three seconds.
I always tried to blend in, meaning I have nowhere near as many photographs as I should for someone who has studied abroad as often as I have. I suppressed the urge to take photographs, especially streetscapes, which are one of my favorite genres. I denied myself the pleasure of excessive photography because I was trying to hold myself to a specific cultural and linguistic standard in Turkey and in various Arab countries.
Now back in the U.S. I have come to appreciate photography, not only as a means to capture my memories, but also a way to express myself more creatively through art photography.
What is Art Photography?
I personally define art photography as the opposite of photojournalism. I do not seek to capture objective reality in the moment. Rather, I deliberately edit a photograph to portray a subjective mood or message. For me, the less naturalistic, the better. Reality is dull and boring. I want to create an image that is original.
When it comes to my philosophy regarding art photography, it is the same as the motto for Assassins’ Creed, “Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.” I do not feel compelled to maintain a level of realism simply because my canvas is rooted in reality. I instead wish to express the emotions I feel with color and textures that could never be found in an unaltered photograph.
How Did I Get in Art Photography Now?
Traditionally, I always veered away from the visual arts. That has always my sister’s forte. I could never draw, paint, or mold clay. My creative outlets have always been literary forms, whether it be prose or poetry. I am a painter with words, not brushes.
Nevertheless, I had always yearned that there could be a visual median where I could express myself artistically. I stumbled into art photography by first getting the Prisma App, an app that has numerous filters to give your photos are more paint-like texture. My first subjects were, of course, my cats. Then I moved onto flowers, to landscapes, and it was just a snowball effect from there onward.
I downloaded other picture-editing apps such as Perfect Image, Color Pop, Snapseed, Photo Lab, and Lens Distortion. I combine the apps into photo-editing recipes in order to create the exact feeling that I want for each photograph.
Is Photography an Art Form?
Almost everyone has a phone with a high-resolution camera build inside. We share millions of images a day on social media. With the pervasiveness of photography nowadays, it is natural why photographers must defend their work more fiercely as belonging to the world of fine art.
While I myself consider photography to be a form of art, the ability to include photography entirely depends on one’s definition of art. The artists who toil for hours and days on their paintings or sculptures may scoff at the idea that photographers would even have the audacity to label what they do as art. Photographers, on the other hand, may view this traditional definition as rigid and unaccommodating to the new medians of art that have emerged with technology.
There is even a subgenre of photography known as fine art photography, which is defined along similar lines to what I defined art photography earlier. For now I feel it would be far too pretentious to call myself a “fine art photographer.” Maybe one day if I pursue this passion further and perfect my techniques I would feel comfortable with that label, but not yet.
For now, I’m simply enjoying my hobby, which allows me to view the world from another perspective, to see the meaning in the mundane. This I believe is important for my overall perspective of life, to appreciate the little things.