Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Are you laughing? This is art! There's no laughing in art!"

I was recently reminded of a conversation with a friend from Atlanta. She worked with me as a studio assistant and later as a model during the early years of my work with the nude. After our third or fourth session together, I asked how she was doing, if she was comfortable working with nude people.

She laughed. “I’m fine” she said. “But you need to lighten up.”

I’ve never had much of a poker face so my surprise didn’t go unnoticed. “These women shouldn’t feel like they’re in a doctor’s office" she said. "If I was going to model, I’d want to know I was going to have fun, that it wouldn’t be so…clinical. This is art, not illustration for some anatomy textbook. Lighten up. Have a sense of humor about it.” She shut off one of the monolight heads; I just stared at the wall. She turned to face me. “Art should be fun.”

Art? Fun? Really?

Certainly, the definition of what art ‘is’ means many different things to many different people. For some, the definition of art is the same definition Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart placed upon obscenity in a 1964 ruling, “I know it when I see it." Put simply, art can be difficult to define. But fun? Perhaps. I like to imagine that’s why Leonardo da Vinci shared the soft smile of Lisa del Gheradini – the Mona Lisa - with the world.

I’ve thought of my friend’s comments often and have decided that yes, art should be fun, as should the process of art. The quote from Edward Weston, with which I opened this blog, would seem to minimize any aspect of fun and art; but having read his daybooks, I do believe that Mr. Weston was an artist that had a lot of fun with his medium. There are few things in this world that genuinely fill me with joy, and creating my photographs – my art – is one of them. And when I think about it, there have been many humorous moments in my studio sessions with models, nude and clothed, and even out of studio, working with no models.

So yes, art can be funny and art can be fun. Here's a couple of pictures to prove it.


The faithful among you who are following this blog through its infancy will notice I’ve changed the background color to white. Originally, the background was black and the text white. This made the images look fabulous, but it was, admittedly, hard on the eyes when it came to reading. Your criticisms have been heard.

So, while this is a blog with photography at its heart, where the images should always look fabulous, it’s also a blog that’s now easier to read. Continue, please.

1 comment:

  1. My shoots are always fun...part of the reason I do what I do :-)