Medium format photography the old way, is it advisable?

Started Feb 24, 2014 | Questions thread
Mark Scott Abeln
Mark Scott Abeln Forum Pro • Posts: 11,016
Photography as art
3

knickerhawk wrote:

D Cox wrote:

Mark Scott Abeln wrote:

High-end art galleries, when they exhibit photography, typically like film — especially very large prints with an exceptional amount of detail, like you find with medium format cameras and larger.

This has more of the old-school craft about it — in fact, the more hand-made the photo, the better.

Serious art buyers often want something that is unique and irreplaceable, something that can’t be duplicated. For this reason, hand-made photo papers, and hand-coated emulsions are highly desired, as well as alternative processes such as the platinotype.

http://www.alternativephotography.com

While film is almost completely gone as a casual consumer medium, I think that it might have a long future as a fine-arts medium.

I agree. Traditional hand-crafted photography is taking its place alongside etching and wood engraving as a print-making medium.

But this is essentially the same argument that was originally made against photography as a fine art. I find it rather interesting that proponents of the medium are beginning to "eat our own" and bicker among ourselves as to what kind of photography is and is not "fine art". We should have learned that lesson at the beginning of the 20th century.

Well, my comments were directed to the kind of photography that is sold at well-regarded art galleries. I mentioned that as an encouragement — the extra work that goes into film can have an additional benefit, the attention of gallery owners, which is in fact a narrow slice of the art world. But the art of photography certainly encompasses far more than just what is seen in those places.

For example, I have a friend who owns a popular, well-regarded gallery in a significant arts city, and in her opinion, “photography is not art” — although she is having a photography show next month and certainly when she wants photos of her gallery or portraits of her family, she hires professional photographers.

But I think her concern is about salability — a hand-made product is almost necessary for a photograph to get consideration from serious collectors who are willing to pay serious money for an artifact. But this does not denigrate photography as an art, and she herself pays good money for good photography.

In my opinion, the arguments about art and photography of the early 20th century did not settle matters. Now, Ansel Adams and his friends in the Group f.64 did think that the future of the art of photography centered around the technology of photography itself, and certainly that proved correct, at least until recent years. But this camera-centric approach is rather limiting (and is the source of much argument on these forums). With the invention of good image-editing software, we have recovered the kind of work that was pioneered by the Pictorialists of the early 20th century, a style of photography that was inspired by painting.

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