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  • November 10, 2013

    The New Definition of Owning Art

    The New Definition of Owning Art

    I recently read about how the current DSLR camera upgrade path, with incremental increases in image quality, is driven by the over 50 year old photographers who learned shooting film and tweaked their camera settings along with their choice of film to give them maximum image quality. Compare that to the younger camera wielding photographers of today who think in terms of web sized images for social media. For them, the current crop of digital cameras is all the quality they’ll ever need, maybe upgrading because the new features will make it easier for them to connect and share images.

    I read about a photographer who, at the request of his friends, photographed them at a Halloween party. A week after Halloween, his friends were upset because he hadn’t given them the pictures yet because he was too busy. His friends “expected” the pictures as soon as they were taken so they could be posted to social media. For them, the moment needed to be shared as it was happening, and a day or two later, it was forgotten.

    The convenience of the cell phone camera, which doesn’t produce enough detail or dynamic range, does produce images that are in the here and now and for most people it’s enough. In today’s world it’s about the moment, not about image quailty.

    I read about a National Geographic photographer who documented a trip using his iPhone and posting to social media so everyone could share the experience as it happened. In response he did get a few people who complained that the image quality was not up to National Geographic standards, but the few people who complained totally missed the point. Everyone else appreciated that it was about being with the photographer on the trip; sharing the moment.

    This explains why people come into our booths and take pictures of our artwork. They share and enjoy the immediacy of the pictures with their friends on a computer or cell phone screen instead of enjoying the actual art. For them it’s the new definition of owning.

    Artists are struggling trying to keep up with the past. The value of art, or more specifically the value of owning art has changed. It’s time to reverse the trend by trying to bring art buyers and collectors back to the art shows instead of people who live their lives in social media.

    A representative of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (at the ZAPP conference) stated that art museums are giving away digital images of the artwork on the museum’s web site to increase attendance. But this is contrary to art shows, where the public can actually meet the artist who created the art work. Art shows need to promote art as something rare and treasured so that when people attend, they actually consider purchasing to own something that will bring richness or add value to their lives.

    Nov 23, 2013

    As a photographer monitoring the trends on some of the photography forums, I’ve seen the complaining and decline of the wedding photographer. In order to continue in what is a changed business, they went from charging for the traditional shooting/editing and then selling albums/prints to selling a CD with the images at a much lower price. But the super star wedding photographers are working non stop and charging through the roof for their services, and also teaching or running workshops.

    This correlates to what someone touched on (in the Art Fair Insiders thread that I started) about creating art and selling digital files in a way the younger “owner” would like to display or use them.

    I think really good artists will survive and thrive. But what makes a really good artist or how do you define what one is. And more importantly, how do we get the art shows to promote the rarity of the artist instead of creating the party atmosphere that draws the younger attendee that is more interested in social media than displaying original art on their walls.

    Art shows are a tough market. There are great artists who are pushing the limits of their mediums, and artists who are just getting by doing minimal work that the masses will buy. But as tough a market as art shows are, there is a place for everybody at whatever artistic skill and marketing level they are at. Not everyone needs to do a top ten show like Cherry Creek. There are a million options of shows to choose from.

    © Larry Berman