Funny how things get complicated: my link was to one specific photographer - Hans Feurer, and the 'spread' consists of four photographs shot on one beach location. Those four photographs are my subject, the focus of my definition, my idea of where the entire photographic art comes together to create something special.
Somehow, this has been extended to include other photographers and series of photographs, a complication far beyond my intention in posting the link as my personal idea of what constitutes photographic art. Of course, it's totally subjective, but let's try to keep the specifics specific!
Comment has been passed that it is all style and no substance. Really? Do you think the clients were disappointed, then, the substance of the product and of the atmosphere which projects it lost, washed out to sea or buried in the sand somewhere?
Would you also include the works of Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas and poor old Vincent Van G as all style and no substance too? You could extend this argument to the great stylists of jazz: Louis Armstrong, unmistakable sound; Bechet; Kid Ory... I have to differ - style is the rock on which any artistic excellence stands. Short of style all you have, at best, is technique.
But maybe that's what many think is photographic art. For myself, it has to be a combination of the two plus, exceptionally, a third dimenson which makes it unforgettable.
And that third dimension is my problem with landscape photography as other than tourist material. I have seen remarkable technique; I have admired exquisite locations and unbelievable lighting conditions. But something is always missing, that crucial third dimension of which I spoke. And what can that be? I have often wondered - the best I can come up with is that the human element is missing, that something which might tie it in with personal emotion, humanity. Lots of photographers have tried to do this, to bring in the missing bit of humanity, and mainly it seems to consist of putting some bored young woman into the shot, naked under a tree or lying uncomfortably on rocks or in a stream. You must have seen all this yourselves - neither fish nor fowl.
How do landscape photographers try to cope with this? At best, they have no awareness that there's a problem; at worst they try to overcome the limitation by going for ever larger format as if that, somehow, solved the problem. Whilst not putting the two into the same category, I also have in mind the work of a very successful art photographer, whose principal oeuvre seems, to my somewhat limited knowledge of that work, to consist of gigantic prints of apartment blocks and such buildings. Photographic art by the square meter, as it were.
What the hell are we all seeking, if the interest goes beyond just earning a buck?
Ciao - Rob C