I agree with Avedon's words, vis-à-vis photography as an art or craft, except for his words being uttered in the past tense.
Personally, I don't think Avedon's notion exists in the past. IMO, not all that much has changed in terms of how photography's place in the art-world is often perceived... except by photographers, its critics and pundits and the like.
And that's okay with me.
I'm good with that.
I'm neither more nor less gratified should others consider me an artist, a craftsman, a specialist, a mechanic, or whatever other label they see fit to bestow upon me or my fellow shooters.
In my self-perception (as it applies to my pursuit of photographic nirvana) I do think of myself as a craftsman. The fact that, occasionally, I might produce work that some consider art is gratifying and, more often than not, downright surprising! Mostly, I suppose, because it's unintended... as art, that is.
I'm not particularly bothered when my work is viewed as neither art nor craft. It is what it is. Often enough, when my work lacks craftiness, it's sometimes the result of my clients'
By the way, none of what I'm writing today should be construed as some sort of subtle or indirect apology for any aspects of my work. I don't apologize for what I do or what I shoot.
Neither should you.
When clients become over-bearing task-masters, or they don't provide me with the minimal time or resources the job requires, it allows little room for craft or art. No problemo. They, i.e., the clients, are the ones writing me checks. Sometimes fat checks, sometimes not so fat. They get what they pay for. And if they prefer to pay for crap, so be it. Besides, they rarely credit me when the work is published or used for whatever. So why the fuck should I care?
Actually, I do. (Care, that is.) But, technically, I shouldn't.
"Hell no! I didn't shoot that crap!"
Plausible deniability is almost always mine thanks to them, my clients, and their uncrediting ways.
For the most part, I try to approach photography with a craftsman's eye, touch, and sensibility. I know my craft. I've spent considerable time learning and practicing it; honing it, if you will. But that doesn't always mean art and craft are always apparent in the results.
Again, I'm okay with that. Shit happens.
Perhaps my 'tude about this stuff makes me something of a whore? A photo whore? Again, no problem. I'm simply like the whore who truly loves and craves sex and would engage in it, regularly and with many partners, with or without monetary compensation.
That I get paid to hold cameras in my hands, needing to do little or nothing else to earn my keep, is something I'm quite happy about. The thought of doing almost anything else to earn a living makes me physically nauseous. (With the exception of writing and a few other things that exist, mostly, in my fantasy life.)
Whether someone refers to me as a craftsman or an artist makes no difference. Either way, I'm good with it. I'd rather be a fat craftsman than a starving artist. For that matter, I'd rather be a fat hack than a starving craftsman or artist.
I guess it's how I roll.
Like a whore.
A camera whore.
What'd'ya gonna do?
Sorry Mister Avedon. While I most certainly consider myself a serious photographer, the art/craft trap you alluded to has never ensnared me.
Perhaps my skills and, more aptly, my ego still have much growing to do?
Time will tell, I suppose.
I was going to write Part 2 of my Day One account of the Pretty Girl Shooter DVD location shoot at El Mirage but yesterday was a no-holds-barred ass-kicker: 15 hours on set with Murphy's Law constantly making everything more difficult than it should have been. In a word, I'm toast today. Writing this little essay was easier than writing the other stuff. Plus, near the end of yesterday's shoot, with camera in hand, I got stung by a freakin' bee! I'm not whining about it. I didn't cry. I didn't drop the camera. (It was on sticks anyway.) It just pissed me off. It was, I'm sorry to say, a fitting end to a fucked up day with yours truly on the receiving end of its final affront.
The pretty girl at the top is another of Dalia from out on the El Mirage dry lake bed. I just now (quickly and minimally) processed this on my cheap laptop while sitting in my favorite, WiFi-equipped, coffee house in between typing the babble contained in this update. If that sounds like I'm making excuses for the processing or the text, I am. And I'm not. Like the words, the image is what it is. Regarding the picture, I'll see what it actually looks like when I get home and view it on a much better screen.
Dalia captured with available light, Canon 5D, 17-40 L at a focal length of 29mm, ISO 100, f/8 @ 125.