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Photography, For Everyone

Rueben Gonzales, "Full Steam Ahead (?)", 2024

Academic snobbery is one of the worst things I have experienced in my life, both as an undergrad, grad student, and professor. It is especially useless in the art world. While I have had the great fortune of working in the art industry both non and for profit, and currently in an academic setting, I have found that those who are great at their job come at it from the point of view that what they are teaching or creating or selling is for everyone. Access, physically or conceptually, to what they have to show, sell, or teach is part of their philosophy. It makes them great, it makes them aware.

A great lesson I have learned very specifically as an artist/photographer is from Alfred Stieglitz who, by way of his series Equivalents, noted:

“Through clouds [I wanted] to put down my philosophy of life—to show that my photographs were not due to subject matter—not to special trees, or faces, or interiors, to special privileges, clouds were there for everyone—no tax as yet on them—free.[1]

It's through this non representational presentation of clouds that the viewer could take in what they wanted and that no one owned the clouds or the idea of clouds. If you saw clouds as clouds, great. If you took the images as shape or light versus dark, fantastic. If the pure composition of it all gave you a sense of fulfillment and peace, then you do you.

All of these things, and especially the compositional aspects of Stieglitz's photographs, are how I approach subjects/objects/environments when I am taking images as one-offs (not necessarily part of a series).

To wrap it up, that's what some if this blog is about. Images that aren't apart of any particular series I am working on, but still have a reason and a place. Just as everyone does.

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