An interesting change in direction this week as attention is turned towards the practicalities of running a business rather than the theory or practice of image making.
What are the qualities which make artistic output a saleable commodity?
Phrased another way, what are the characteristics which create a desire in a viewer to own an artwork?
From the photographer’s point of view, what must be done to create enough interest in one’s work to elicit a transaction on the part of a client?
Output has to be unique but also consistent. It has to demonstrate a clear creative and technical ability and it has to provide a narrative – whether as a standalone piece or part of a series.
I think it is fairly normal to think of oneself as a photographer specialising in one particular genre. But, as discussed elsewhere, this seems to be a restrictive practice which will results in closing off certain avenues of work.
The remedy to this, in my view is to develop a unique look which is discernible across a range of genres – in effect allowing the photographer to be defined by a personal style rather than by a genre.
But what sells? By that I mean what really sells?
Questions I am sure most photographers (and artists) have asked themselves:
‘Why that image and not this?’
Why his (or her) work and not mine?’
And, logically from this, where do boundaries fall? How do we classify? The relevance being, how does one describe one’s photographic output? This being necessary before any potential markets can be identified (if you don’t know what you are producing, how do you know who you will sell to?)
Take, for example, fine art photography? Does it even exist (as a genre)?
The University of Oxford advertises it’s BFA by explaining that fine art is the making and study of visual art.
Using this as a basis, all photography is fine art.
The Oxford English Dictionary provides us with the following definition:
Originally: the creative arts, including the visual arts, poetry, music, rhetoric, etc., whose products are intended to be appreciated primarily or solely for their aesthetic, imaginative, or intellectual content; (now usually) spec. the visual arts, esp. painting and sculpture, viewed in this way. Also: these arts as a subject of training, study, or examination (OED, 2017).
Taking this as a working theory, is fine art as a genre actually a misnomer which has become a pseudo-entity based on strength of numbers (in this case, strength of numbers in terms of those labouring under a misapprehension)? If enough misinformed individuals repeat a phrase without meaning, does that phrase take on meaning?
I think this is an interesting area for further research, with a relevance to how photography is marketed.
“Fine art, n.”. OED Online. Oxford University Press, October 2017 [Online]. Available at: http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/70365?redirectedFrom=fine+art#eid (Accessed 07 October 2017).