What’s the true value of your photographs? Maybe it has to do with the perception of photography as art? Maybe it has to do with the photographic experience that you provide to your clients? Let’s explore those ideas …
Photography as Art
It’s a fair argument that photography as an art form didn’t make any real headway until the 1920s. In 1921, Alfred Stieglitz put together a retrospective of his work at Anderson Galleries. That retrospective included a number of portraits of Georgia O’Keefe. And he did the same in 1925 when his work was featured in the Seven Americans exhibition. That exhibition was a massive hit.
So why did Stieglitz become popular? Especially his portraits of O’Keefe? O’Keefe herself said of his work: “[his] idea of a portrait was not just one picture” (O’Keeffe, introduction to Georgia O’Keeffe: A Portrait by Alfred Stieglitz, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1978, n.p.).
Indeed, he took photographs of O’Keefe doing day-to-day tasks, like cooking. He took nude photographs of O’Keefe, and he also took photographs that focused on her hands, her eyes, and even the pores in her skin. What he really did was improve the photographic experience for O’Keefe (and for all of us, in a manner of speaking). That is to say, he allowed the viewer to connect to the subject.
The Value of Rein II
So, that takes us to the early 2000s and the most expensive photograph (ever). Why did someone pay $4.3 million for Andreas Gursky’s Rein II, a 73×143 inch chromogenic print (in color) that was face-mounted to Plexiglass? No idea. But we hope that the purchaser felt a strong connection to the photograph because he or she appreciated his dedication to the craft of photography … and it’s value as a piece of artwork:
The simplicity of this photograph shows a great deal of confidence in its effectiveness and potential for creating atmospheric, hyper-real scenarios that in turn teach us to see … the world around us anew. The scale, attention to colour and form of his photography can be read as a deliberate challenge to painting’s status as a higher art form. On top of that, Gursky’s photographs are extraordinary technical accomplishments, which take months to set up in advance, and require a lot of digital doctoring to get just right. (See Waters, “Why is Andreas Gursky’s Rhine II the Most Expensive Photography?, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/8884829/Why-is-Andreas-Gurskys-Rhine-II-the-most-expensive-photograph.html.)
The Value of Your Photographs to Your Clients
And that takes us to the photographic experience of your clients. And why they may or may not value the photographs that you create for them. We’d posit that the true value of your photographs has absolutely everything to do with the photographic experience you offer to your clients. Meaning how you empower your clients to connect with the photographs you take of them.
[RECONNECT: The Photographic Experience: Its Essential Parts]
True: the most valuable photographs in the world contain elements that allow nearly all who view them to connect to them in some manner. But it’s also true that you should be photographing what’s important to your clients: details that mean something to them (a child’s hands, a lover’s eyes, etc.) and emotions that they connect with (the comfort that only a father can provide for a daughter, the joy of grandparent seeing their legacy live on through a grandchild, etc.). You are creating art without a doubt. But that art has a special place: the walls of the homes of your clients.
Want to Learn More?
Want to learn how to empower your clients through an improved photographic experience? Check out all the courses available on stevesaporitoeducation.com (and you can gain access to all of the courses by signing up for the monthly subscription, for the low cost of only $99USD/month).
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