This is my take on it. I think that a ban on photographing art is wrong. There is no shortage of art photographs in postcards or magazines or books. Done well a good photograph can change the way you look at art. I feel that it is an important but neglected field of photography.
Here are my ten reasons why we must photograph art.
- Art is great subject matter. It is interesting to look at.
- Artists need their art photographed. Photographic books, catalogs, posters, postcards and reproductions are vital promotional tools for artists. Artists pay photographers to photograph their work. It is worth developing these skills.
- Artists benefit from promotion of their material. Pictures of art do not compete for space in galleries. Photographers are not stealing the artists copyright. Pictures of art creates demand for artists. People who view photographs of art want to go on and see the art.
- It provides technical challenges. Art photography requires skill. Photographers have to negotiate angles, lighting, display cases, reflective glass, other people in the gallery and so on. These elements all interfere with a straight shot of the image.
- Creative photography adds value to the art. Framing is important. Texture and surface quality can be displayed. Sculpture is three dimensional and infinitely variable. The photographer has plenty of latitude to play with. Better photographs use this latitude and show the skill of the photographer.
- People interact with art. You can photograph people interacting with art. An art gallery provides opportunities for “Street photography in the Gallery.” Art changes the way people behave. It is interesting to capture it.
- Post Modernism encourages us to appropriate other peoples images. Appropriation creates a new piece of art from earlier artworks. When the former artwork is commonplace, like the design of a Campbell soup can, photography can elevate that image and create art out of the ordinary. Create interest in the mundane. When the image is a fine art painting it may give us a new way to look at that art. It adds new layers of meaning. An artist can be elevated by the attention of a photographer.
- Choosing which art to photograph reflects our tastes. How we display art reflects style. Photography gives us new ways to display art. Art gives us a world of subject matter that would otherwise be overlooked.
- Imitating art works can stimulate experimentation and creativity. Photographers draw inspiration from artists and try to imitate their work. The result show not only imitation, but also innovation. It is good to be influenced in your style. Don’t be afraid to show your influences.
- If for no other reason – I photograph art because it challenges conventional wisdom. I hate to be bound by misconceptions. I want to show that it can be done intelligently. Photographing art is not necessarily plagiarism. It requires creatively and imagination.