Pretty Pictures

A photographer friend and I visited some photography galleries in Denver this weekend. One large place we went to had these fabulous big prints made from large format nature photographs. The quality of the lightjet prints was terrific. The photographs were well composed and had beautiful and believable color.

My friend who isn’t a nature photographer pointed out a couple of images of one particular photographer that struck him as special. He felt that these images stood out against the rest. I looked at these images and I had to agree. There was something special about them that made them memorable, while the other images, while certainly well executed were just pretty pictures.

I looked at these photographs and tried to ascertain what made them stand out. What it the subject matter, the way the photographer approached the subject, the color, the composition? What made them different? I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, but these images were certainly special.

The photographer was David Meunch. I’d seen a lot of his work in reproductions and
on-line, but I’ve never seen nice large prints of his work before. After seeing his work as it should be seen, I can really appreciate him as an artist.

Am I an artist or just a producer of pretty pictures? What are you? Personally I can’t say what I am. I’m too close to my work to be objective. One thing I can say is don’t draw any conclusions until you see a persons photographs as they are meant to be seen, as prints.

I took the above image in January. It’s of El Capitan Meadow in Yosemite. Is it art? I don’t know but I do enjoy it as my computer wallpaper.

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~ by danbaumbach on March 16, 2010.

5 Responses to “Pretty Pictures”

  1. I’d be interested in knowing that the images were? I’ve got quite a few Muench books to refer to..

    As for me? I don’t know and I don’t think it really matters. If I were to call myself an artist, would it change what I was doing?

    I think it’s for the viewer to decide what they are seeing, and in my eyes you are an artist 🙂

  2. I should also add that one persons pretty picture is another persons moving art. We’re lucky if we consistently create work that multiple people see as the latter as we can’t second guess this. (It’s also viewer demographic specific.. your average punter will ‘wow’ at every other sunset picture, a more seasoned viewer of images will see them as passe? Is the first more ‘art’ because it gets a moving reponse from a greater proportion of the population?)

  3. Dan,
    your images convey a sense of “quietness” and subtlety and have aesthetic qualities that take them far beyond the cliches of contemporary landscape photography. In my book this is art.

    Also, I couldn’t agree more about the importance of seeing photographs in print. There is an exhibition of some of Ansel Adams’ “classic images” in my town. These images were printed by Adams himself (or one of his assistants?) during the late 70’s or early 80’s before his death and they look amazing. There is a 3D quality there that I couldn’t appreciate before by just experiencing his photographs from books, even though his reproductions in good books are of very high quality.

    Landscape photographs should definitely be experienced as real prints in order to be fully appreciated, probably even more than other kinds of photography.

  4. Thank you Tim and Christos. I was afraid that this post might seem that I’m asking for compliments, telling me that I’m and artist. I hope that’s not the impression. If I spent my days worrying if I was producing art or just decoration, I’d drive myself crazy. I’m just happy if I can produce some images that I feel good about. And, I feel extremely lucky just to be able to wander around some beautiful places and experience the wonder of being there.

    I agree with you, Tim that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.

    • I’ve wondered alot why some images, or photographers, really shine… Is it the light? The oomps? But it is certainly true that some images just captivate as if holding a secret power all their own. Of course, as said already, it’s probably different viewer to viewer. Gotta love those images that fill us with wonder…

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