The A Word

My father was an artist. To me, being an artist meant being self-centered, selfish and also producing art. Art was all-important and everything else came third. I saw this in my father’s friends, too. In spite of thinking about themselves so much, very few of them were happy. When I graduated college, I went into commercial photography. I wanted nothing to do with art. At least that’s what I thought.

In commercial photography, I gravitated toward doing fashion. Not so much for working with models who generally were not very interesting beyond their looks, but because it was the most creative area of commercial photography. I was particularly enamored with the work of Arthur Elgort, Debbie Turberville and Guy Bourdan because of their unique vision.

I make a living these days as a computer programmer. The one reason I’m able to do it day after day is that it entails some creativity. I get particularly excited when I’m able to solve a programming problem in a different and better way.

I take photographs almost every day. I apply to exhibits and open studios, but because of its baggage for me, I’ve always tried to avoid the A word.

Recently, I was in a gallery of Lisa Kristine’s and I was struck how out-there and in your face she was about being an artist. I clearly saw that by my being so apologetic about it, I was selling myself short and was looking for validation from others that I was an artist rather than declaring it myself.

I vowed to stop that. I’m an ARTIST. I said it and I’m starting to live it. I’ve immediately seen changes in how I’m pricing my work and what images I’m choosing to show. My prices are going up and I’m a lot more critical about my work. I only want to show images that I think are really good or great and not something that I think I can sell.

We’ll see how it all works out.

One thing hasn’t changed. The most important things in my life are still my wife, cat and friends.

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~ by danbaumbach on August 3, 2013.

8 Responses to “The A Word”

  1. You are an artist, Dan. Always have been!

  2. […] friend Dan Baumbach recently shared a moving post on his blog, confessing his hesitation in calling himself an artist. I met others who were similarly […]

  3. Dan, you are clearly an artist, whether you want to believe it or not. Though, I must admit, I’ve had similar thoughts in the past. But every now and then, I am reminded that photography, at least how I practice it (and evidently how you do as well) is definitely an art. Just last night, I was giving a short talk on using LIghtroom to a photo club I belong to and someone asked how I am allowed to change the white balance to make the image look different (than what they thought it should look like in the real world I guess). And the answer is that I’m an artist, I’m not trying to replicate the real world, I’m trying to create my own personal vision of it. That is what you do Dan, you create your own personal vision of the world. Keep up the good work!

  4. I suspect that in the dark of night even the most seemingly self assured has doubts about whether they qualify to use the capital “A”. It’s a shame that the label should matter so much. In the end I decided that only the person making it gets to decide if it’s art or not (others can squabble whether it’s GOOD art or not). Once I decided that what I was making was art (sometimes), it was only logical that I must be an artist. I leave it to others to decide if I’m any good or not. For what it’s worth, I think you qualify.

  5. […] photography recently, but also due to a blog post by Dan Baumbach, a very talented photographer. In his blog, Dan questions whether he is an artist. I think many photographers have had these thoughts. I know I have had such doubts in the […]

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