can observe how in recent years, a growing number of those who have
used photographs in their work have started to shy away from describing
themselves as photographers.
They are now “artists”.
As if photographers belonged to a different species than those of
to a degree they do, by what one can glean from the market, it seems
that if you consider yourself an artist, the same work can fetch
considerably higher prices than if you are simply a photographer.
So I don’t know if to congratulate such colleagues for their
practical approach, or to question their opportunism for being willing
to dance to the tune of what ever the taskmaster demands.
Pedro Meyer, 2004
But aside any issues that might come across as moralistic in nature.
In this market oriented environment, there seems to be something
most everyone is missing out on. Let us take a closer look.
Photography is not what it used to be.
A lot of people have tried to invent new words for the work that
has been coming out in this digital age, apparently we needed to
coin new terms to describe the work because photography was no longer
an appropriate term.
Not only has there been an exodus of photographers to the land of
the “artists”, but on top of it, everyone is attempting
to find new terms to describe the images produced in this age of
There clearly is a profound dissatisfaction with what is, after
all names just describe what is going on. It appears that any approval
and major recognition is really bestowed on the artist and not the
photographer, obviously economic pay follows. And if you can slap
the label of NEW onto something, it will probably also create more
interest, that is what the market tells us.
this can help us understand the increased distancing from the term
photographer and photography, which apparently has become associated
with old fashioned and outmoded ideas.
However, I find they got it all wrong and we should make every effort,
especially at this point in the brief history of photography to
size the opportunity to actually expand the horizons of photography
not abandon it, and not loose site of were we can move forward to
on our own terms.
Allow me to explain. I find that photography is at the threshold
of its greatest creative moment and the best times are yet to come.
However, the nature of what we understood as photography in the
analog age has to be reconsidered. Yes, photography it is still
all that it was, but then it’s also a lot more as well.
Pedro Meyer, 2004
The word photography, as we all know, means
“writing with light”. Well, never in my life
time, have I ever had a more direct experience of actually writing
with light, as I have in recent years, when taking a stylus pen,
and actually being in a position to move around, at my will, all
those pixels that were captured through my digital camera or scanned
To sit there in front of my computer screen, and to manipulate those
pixels, has been the most direct experience I have ever had with
the notion of what photography was always intended to be, at least
from the stand point of those who made up the word to describe the
process called photography.
I can explore and submerge myself today to
the very bottom of a sea of pixels, and touch each individual pixel
through the pressure of my finger on a stylus, with no parallel
to what could be done previously to the individual grains in a sea
of gelatin with silver halides. This basic premise transforms
all of photography forever.
such a new set of rules, the limits of photography are basically
our imagination. So the question comes down to the following: we
can either expand our understanding of what photography is in order
to broaden the field, thus making it a stronger and more influential
player called PHOTOGRAPHY, or to let things stand as they are and
to just watch as it all slowly erodes with everyone calling the
photograph by another name, and no one really wanting to be identified
with being a photographer any longer.
We either reinvent photography, by broadening what is understood
as a photograph, or we will probably end up not having much of photography
to defend, as it will be called something else by everyone.
I for one, find that the more I alter my images, the more photographic
they become, but then I am also thinking along the lines of looking
at photography differently. I am also convinced that as soon as
we view photography with a wider perspective, the “market”
will understand that there aren’t so many dilemmas in this
matter between being a photographer or an artist.
strictest of documentary photographers, will probably discover to
their great surprise, that there is as was before, room for a lot
of such work under the term photography, much as the journalists
has no problem using words to describe his or her ideas, we have
poets using words as well. Why should the
“photograph” be considered any different than the “word”?
In either instance every one understands the context.
Pedro Meyer, 2004
But having said that, we also call the poet a poet and not a journalist,
and that is why probably the slow migration of photographers towards
the self definition of artists helps us understand that such separations
indeed define different working strategies that are distinctive
and should not be confused and mixed up. But we should all still
be able to call a photograph a photograph. After all, paraphrasing
Gertrude Stein, “ A photograph, is a photograph, is a photograph”.
As always please joins us with your comments in our
Pedro Meyer, 2004