When I first picked up a camera and started photographing myself I wasn't sure if I should call myself a photographer. I didn't feel like a photographer in the way my peers did at school. I didn't go through the same printing process. I wasn't very interested in the technical aspects like they were. For me the most exciting part of it was the performance and the final visual result, everything else was secondary.
Then other people started asking me to take photos of them or for their brands, head shots, events or whatever it was and next thing I knew I was a photographer because I had a camera and took pictures. I know it seems so black and white that if I have a camera and take pictures then I am a photographer but I still felt guilty of the label, like I wasn't worthy of this title. I didn't care about the history and technical aspect of photography like I do with fashion and clothing.
My favorite work is my self portrait series aka my "fine art". Recently I was reading an interview Erik Madigan Heck did with George Pitts for CREEM's newest issue on the topic of abstraction in photography and I was especially intrigued by Pitt's response to EMH's question on the subject matter.
"...I was an abstract painter most of my life. That's another reason why I'm totally not in awe of abstraction in photography. I've done it every which way. I don't think it's extraordinary for photographers to explore abstraction. If anything, it has been covered so extensively in the practice of painting that it looks conservative to merely be preoccupied with abstraction in photography. A lot of people see it as radical and some sort of conceptual leap from having to work with concrete subject matter, when, in fact, abstraction can be as conservative as any other stylistic practice. It's very hard to make transcendent forms with abstraction..."
I can't help but relate this idea to my own work which is very abstract, surreal, dreamy, not-of-here or however you want to describe it as. It certainly goes beyond the realms of how my peer's in school saw photography. I manipulate, edit, cut and paste, and work in a manner that is less a photographer and more a graphic designer. Thus the question is presented: am I really a photographer or am I an artist that is just using the camera to get my ideas across?
Pitt's goes on to comment on abstraction in photography in several different ways.
"I don't want photography to exhibit the pretensions of art, meaning that it emulates the look of painting or 'art' as we know it in such a way that the photograph becomes too self-conscious. I like photography for its own unique properties."
And then he takes a 180 on his opinions of abstraction in photography.
"...Suddenly I think I understand more clearly why photography is moving away from the obligation to represent subject matter and the more familiar kinds of content. I suppose it appears more radical to certain artists if the practice is more self-reflexive and relieved of the obligation to illustrate situations involving people or genre content...with photography, people still expect some idea of the truth, which is antithetical to the medium, because photography has always lied."
Well Mr. Pitts I like where you ended up in this interview but I still am not sure if I can call myself a true photographer. Maybe I am, maybe I'm not, maybe no one really gives a shit but me which is why I'm writing about this on blog but pish posh and shennanigans and in the meantime I will continue to use a camera, edit the crap out of my pictures and make magic happen in my own digitally enhanced ways.