What Does “Authentic” Really Mean?
To be truly great, fine-art photographs must be more than simply viewed, they must be felt. There must be an emotional reaction: “Oh, that’s really nice.” “Woah, what a shot!” “Wow. Amazing.” Don’t you agree? What was your reaction when seeing a great photo for the first time?
For myself, I just know I’m in the presence of greatness when a photograph moves me and makes me feel something, even if only briefly. But why, and how does this happen?
I believe in order for a photograph to be truly great, it must be taken and made with a kind of “authenticity” by the photographer. That is to say, the creation of the photo itself must have been rooted in a real and authentic feeling that the photographer had at the time. There is no great photo without a great story behind it.
au·then·tic (ôˈTHentik) 1. of undisputed origin; genuine. synonyms: genuine, real, bona fide, true, veritable; More antonyms: fake
If there is no feeling behind a photograph or a work of art, then there is no purpose. Art is meant to be an expression of feeling by the artist.
Likewise, if there is no feeling coming from the art, then there is no purpose. Art is not meant to be felt solely by the artist, and in photography, if a photo does not appeal to anyone then it is only a visual recording of something at some time, and definitely not art.
When taking photos or reviewing them in the darkroom after a shoot, it is at these times that the authentic vision of the photographer comes into play. Sure there is the set-up, the preparation, and the equipment, but it is at the time the photo is created and when the art is made, that is the important time.
“If the heart is not into it, the art is no good… and it always shows.”
When making fine-art photographs, the best advice I could offer is to be fully engaged in the moment when you make your art. Be authentic. Be real. If not, don’t bother. It won’t be any good otherwise. This is lesson I’ve learned personally and I hope it can help you as well.
Thank you for reading what I wrote — I hope you enjoyed it.
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