Saturday, April 3, 2010

Everybody's an Artist

Since the glory years of LIFE and other American picture magazines, many so-called "fine art photographers" counted on magazines to subsidize their art projects. We did too for awhile being fully aware of the legacy. Hernri Cartier-Bresson founded Magnum Photos. Walker Evans worked for Fortune. Irving Penn made fashion photographs for Vogue. Diane Arbus did photo essays Harper's. Richard Avedon made portraits for the New Yorker. Katy Grannan for The New York Times.  But, we love the the idea of amateur photographers selling their flickr images through Getty as reported in The New York Times article "For Photographers, the Image of a Shrinking Path" on March 29. We ponder the trickle-down effect of the rise of the amateur in photography (and video) on notions of creativity in everyday life and public perceptions of "artistic genius." The Times article ends with a revelatory quote from an amateur photographer that reads like something out of The Philosophy of Andy Warhol:
“People don’t know the rules, so they just shoot what they like — and other people like it, too.”
Marshall McLuhan wrote in the Medium is the Massage that "The amateur can afford to lose" with the implication being that the amateur can trip upon something great that could be verboten for the professional such as the financially-strapped Annie Liebovitz mentioned in an earlier post on this blog.

Image:  Burt Glinn: Andy Warhol with Edie Sedgwick and Chuck Wein, New York, 1965

1 comment:

  1. That's a very interesting phenomenon. Are these stock images always going to be in a different category from the professional, artistic images? In what markets, what uses, for what "consumers" of images are these amateur photos serious competition? Advertising? If one needs stock photography that doesn't need to be very specific to a firm or product, isn't it easy enough to go take some pictures instead of buying them?