What am I looking at?

We’ve all heard the phrase “different strokes for different folks?”  It sounds silly if you say it out loud.  Yet, when it comes to art and photography specifically, the above quote couldn’t be more apropos.  Art is an acquired taste.  What you see when you look at art takes experience and to some extent education.  Not necessarily a formal education either, but an education born of passion and desire for all things ‘artistic’ in nature that you personally care for.

Several weeks back I posted a learning topic about Photography Critique sites.  I highly recommended, and still do, that if you’re new to photography as an art, that you spend some time on these sites learning to see what others are looking at.  By paying attention to what others see, it will help to develop your own eye.

Thanks to the internet many aspiring photographers will cruise the WWW and view photo blogs, travel blogs, and personal websites.  Some are filled with great photography, some are not.  Who’s to judge other than your own personal tastes?

When viewing the work of others new photographers will start to develop their own list of likes and dislikes, note that which turns them on, try out the ‘look’ on their own images, and in this way start to develop their own “style.”  As you can imagine, if you were only being exposed to great works this would be very positive.  Is the internet filled with great works?  Or is it a mixture of different levels of talent and accomplishment, easily posted, and perhaps misinterpreted?

I would never be so snobbish to suggest that only a “trained” art viewer has a valid opinion.  Still, developing your own “style” can take years.  Sometimes decades.  Wouldn’t you rather develop a style which has the best chance of pleasing others as well as yourself?

Maybe it would be wise to learn what you’re looking at in both a formal setting, and a free view setting?  Compare them, ask yourself why you like that which you enjoy from each.  Learn to know and appreciate what you’re viewing as “art” and how others see the same.  If you only create ‘art’ to please yourself then none of this matters.  However, if you’re creating ‘art’ as a business, to share with others, or even post on the web.. then perhaps you should take a look.. at how what you’re looking at?

Just food for thought.

Until next week..