Call for entries

The Myth of Technical Perfection


I had an interesting exchange with the Executive Director of The Center for Fine Art Photography a few days ago that has me absolutely baffled.

I had submitted some images for consideration for one of their exhibits, and they were rejected due to “technical errors”. What baffled me was that the exposure, contrast, etc, was exactly what I had envisioned prior to taking the photos.  Granted, some of them, okay many of them, wouldn’t be considered technically perfect by digital standards.  I didn’t expose to the right (I wouldn’t even  know how to do that), they didn’t have wide dynamic range, etc.

The cameras I use are heavily customized and rather unconventional, specifically to give me the look that I want. I want to convey emotion, not show off technical perfection.

The conversation with the Executive Director, a man whom I had assumed would understand artistic expression, went something like this (paraphrased):

Him: Your photos lack dynamic range

Me: I know, they’re very high contrast for a reason.

Him: They’re underexposed too.

Me: Yep, exactly as I envisioned.

Him: But that’s not the proper exposure.

Me: What is “proper” in art?  Who determines that?

And it kind of went downhill from there.

It reminded me of the scene in the movie Dead Poets Society (above) where the textbook uses the Pritchard Scale for Poetry to graph how good a poem is, which is obviously ridiculous. Robin Williams wisely has them rip those pages out of the textbook.

I can imagine the Impressionists having those same discussions during the Salon de Paris, when it first burst onto the art scene. How dare they not paint in the approved style?

I’m in no way comparing myself to the greats of Impressionism, but I’m baffled why someone in such a vaunted position could, in 2016, still be bound by the “approved methods”.

Don’t let yourself be bound by conventions. Art will only move forward when people try new things.  Things that will make some people feel uncomfortable.  As long as it makes you, as an artist, happy, that’s all that counts.



Enter: A great photo book for a great cause

Call for Entries: Toy Camera Photographers for Tots

Here’s a chance to be in a great photo book for a great cause:

My buddy Bill Wolff, one of the owners of Composing with Images Press (a not for profit publisher), is putting together a photo book to support Toys for Tots.  ALL the proceeds will go to help children in the areas of the U.S. recently devastated by tornadoes.

The theme of the book will be “Play”, but that’s very broadly interpreted, so see some of the examples on the site.  The contest is open to all photographers who use Toy Cameras (see how they define it on their site).

Here is more about it in his words:

“CWiP is seeking images that explore, complicate, and represent in compelling ways the concept of Play.  These might include, but are certainly not limited to, photographs that deal with imaginary play, word play, adult play, children’s play, animal play, games, or the various kinds of materials and/or spaces associated with play. Similarly, photographs might represent play from the perspective of a child’s imagination, or from a toy’s perspective, or they might take up questions about what it means to play or explore the matter of who is allowed (or disallowed) to play. These are, of course, just suggestions for representing play. However you interpret the theme Play through your viewfinder is what we are looking for!

This call is open to amateur and professional photographers worldwide working with toy, lo-tech, homemade, or modified analog cameras.

Note:  Though the book is going to benefit children in the areas ravaged by the tornadoes, we are specifically not seeking images of the tornado destruction. Again, we are looking for photographs that explore in compelling ways the concept of Play.”

CWIP did a similar book to help people affected by the disasters on the Gulf Coast and it was a big hit which helped many people.

It’s such a great cause, so please enter.  You’ll not only get some great visibility but you’ll help keep the childhood in the child.

See all the details and enter here.