Tag Archives: photography

Street Photography Dealt Heavy Blow in Arkansas

It is still legal to take a shot of bamboo in Arkansas. Indeed my favorite subjects of machines, animals and flowers are all safe from the new law passed that will put the art of a street photographer in serious potential danger. The new SB-79, or the Personal Rights Protection Act. This law will require a photographer standing on the street in a public place to get a legal binding document from every person they photograph.

 

In most areas of photography this model release form is nothing new. Indeed, professional photographers will carry this kind of form with them when they go on shoots.   Up till now though it has not been necessary to worry about whether a photographer needs to have such a form filled out by every person photographed in a shot when that person is on a public piece of land.

 

However, The art of street photography specializes in the photography of the cultural side of people. This photographer specializes in capturing the culture and day-to-day activities of the subjects he captures. They show both the good and bad of every city and the colorful people who live there. So it’s immediately possible to see a potential conflict of interest.

 

The rules have been pretty clear-cut. When a person goes to the park and runs around with a dog chasing a Frisbee, That person is in a public area. The expectation to a right of privacy is pretty much forfeit. People can take pictures with you in them because you are in public. On a side note, it doesn’t entitle the photographer to act like an irresponsible jerk about his right to take the picture. The rule of “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” applies here. If however, a photographer has to climb a privacy fence to grab the shot of you sunbathing in your backyard, well, it’s called a privacy fence for a reason. See? It’s some of the clearest legal mud you can find.

 

However, this new bill seeks to change that. In order to provide a thicker murkier mud, It basically allows for litigation against the commercial photographer if the person being photographed does not sign a release form giving permission.

 

So, very soon if you are taking a picture in Arkansas you may want to sell, you have to make sure that no person is in your picture without the release. But it’s not that simple. Remember a person in the law means:

 

SB 79 Statute : 4-75-1003.

(4)(A-B) “Person” means an individual or entity. A partnership, a corporation, a company, an association, or any other business entity; a not-for-profit corporation or association; an educational or religious institution; a political party; and a community, civic, or other organization;

 

Again, while most photographers use these release forms to cover themselves from any possible legal issues anyway, one would not think this is too big of a deal. But that is not the fear. The fear behind this law is that it is just not always feasible for a photographer to determine whether a person actually needs to be processed as a model or not. After all as with everything there are always exceptions to the new rules. In this case more than 2 pages of the 9-page bill are exceptions.

 

Could you imagine running a photography business where you would have to literally have a group of litigation lawyers with you everyday to determine whether taking a particular shot would actually fall under the category of legal or not? With every possible click of the camera shutter having the potential for wiping out your business? Would you risk it?

 

As is usual, the solving of one problem definitely leads to others. Street photographers might not want to visit Arkansas anymore. It’s too risky. This means no more pictures and thereby no promotion of true Arkansas beauty or the people and their culture. Could this lose valuable tourist dollars? No one knows. But hey, at least now they don’t have to worry about what they look like at Wal-Mart.

 

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The Price of Art Explained: Insight That You Can Benefit From Starting Today

“Ignore the price. In fact, don’t look at the price tag.” If you said that this is the kind of statement a salesperson would say, you’re about half right.   But this is the best advice when shopping in an art gallery. Galleries are tricky mysterious locations that artists have salespeople sell their art in their name.

Well, salesperson is a negative connotation in this example. Gallerists prefer titles like art director or consultant. The title of salesperson does not go with the mystique and pleasure of selling and buying art. A salesperson sells retail goods. No one ever got $300 million worth of excited buying a tie.

In any case, the price tag placed upon an artwork is both a curse and a blessing. A blessing because it puts food on the artist’s table and allows the gallery to operate. It’s a curse because when we discuss price we are trying to take a subjective subject, the art, and assign an objective worth, the price.  There has to be a bridge connecting  both sides of this subjective vs objective issue.

How then can a gallery actually come up with a price

Japanese Foot Bridge
Japanese Foot Bridge

for a work of art? How does one piece of photographic art cost more than another piece even though they may look very similar in style? The reasons often boggle the mind as well as cause proverbial sticker shock to both the average gallery buyer and even the artists themselves.  That bridge mentioned earlier is value.  Each work of art has 2 values.  One is an artistic value, the other a financial one.

Indeed, for the financial value, it mainly comes down to is the perceived value of the photograph or work in question. The leading generator according to The Globe and Mail is

 “The sale price is really determined only by previous sale prices; in other words they are valuable only because someone paid a lot for them in the past. It’s a logical Moebius strip: They are valuable because they are valuable. These values are controlled by dealers and collectors who conspire to inflate the prices and keep them where they are.”

 

That last sentence about a conspiracy to keep and raise prices is quite important to our understanding of high art prices. Art is not just about a pretty picture hanging on the wall. It has much more power and influence in the financial world than that. A recent comment found in the New Yorker explains why a painting sells for $300 million or a photograph for $6.2 Million.

 

“Art is transportable, unregulated, glamorous, arcane, beautiful, difficult. It is easier to store than oil, more esoteric than diamonds, more durable than political influence. Its elusive valuation makes it conducive to extremely creative tax accounting.”

 

So what motivates a collector to buy and therefore increase the value and worth of a particular photograph? Alas, once again it’s not an easy question to answer. In fact:

“Motivation is also impossible to answer: Do they do it out of a love of art, a desire to provide an educational experience for their populace, as economic investment or as simple competition – out of a primal desire to own the best of everything so that no one else can?” – The Globe

Those personal motivations, coupled with the right amount of money, cause the prices on the art market to reach ever higher in the record books. If anything, it’s a reason to buy art when you find it. Like the salesperson’s quote, don’t concentrate on the price tag. It’s a fluid creature that lives and breathes by the whim of the person willing to pay the money.

But, as I’ve seen too often, I have started collecting an artist work to soon discover that their new work prices are out of my reach. While part of me is sad that I can no longer afford to buy their art, I understand that the art I have already collected has also just increased in value.  So, not only is the artwork making my walls look good, it’s providing an interesting avenue for a return on investment.  I love win-win scenarios.

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Shocking Photographic Behavior at Angkor Temple Complex

I read photographic art and general art news almost everyday, most of the time the news is a story about a massive sale at a top auction house involving millions of dollars.   The mental image of those grand art auctions is much like our picture this week.  Ornate Column in Lightcarvings, marble columns and the hint of sophistication where the clients satisfy their need for the exquisite.

But every so often I find a true gem. This is one of those news events that you can’t believe. You end up reading the opening statement twice before it really hits home.

Three French tourists in their early twenties have been arrested by Cambodian authorities for taking nude photos of each other inside the country’s famed Angkor temple complex, officials said Friday. – artdaily.com

 

Seriously? I find myself in one of those odd moments hoping that the cause of their little escapade is a little recreational drug use. I find it hard to imagine that three men in a sober and coherent state of mind would decide to pose nude for photographs at a major cultural temple complex.

Of course recreational drug use would not excuse the outrageous, and let’s face it, idiotic behavior, but it would give a better understanding of why they did such a thing. However, I think it’s the youthful lack of understanding cause and effect that truly bothers me though. That they attempted this stunt is bad enough, but they attempted their little stunt just after a few days a small group of women did the same thing causing a major incident and official protest. Well umm…  Duh?

I’d guess that none of the three defendants are really thinking it was a good idea about now. They are facing  a charge of public exposure that is punishable up to 6 months of prison time and may soon face pornography charges that can result in a fine and a year in prison on top of that.

This is in Cambodia. Their prison system is not exactly a well-funded tourist destination. Crowded conditions and poorly paid prison staff accused of mistreatment and taking bribes create a rather unwholesome environment to live in.   Further, these men can look forward to a year and half of very cheap rice and lousy cheap vegetables served twice a day as their only meals for the length of their stay.

I truly wonder if they understand the issues they are now causing at the French embassy and at home with their relatives. All of this aggravation is a result of breaking the 1st cardinal rule of photography and  its proof why the rule exists. That rule is simply to use common sense.

You want to take nude pictures? Fine. That’s nothing new. But go through the right channels. Understand that the authorities may not let you to take the pictures.  Walk away and be happy you won’t rot in a jail that makes an american supermax prison look like a trip to Disney World.

But there is another side effect of this incident that now tugs at my brain. How long will it be before a normal tourist can take a camera into Angkor without arousing undue suspicion of the authorities?   Will this become a case of 3 bad apples ruining it for the rest of us? Will professional photographers be considered simply guilty by association? It’s something to think about.

What are your thoughts?

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More Information: http://artdaily.com/news/76126/Three-French-tourists-arrested-for-nude-photos-at-Cambodia-s-Angkor-temple[/url]

 

How Will You Scare Your Enemies this Chinese New Year?

Happy New Year!

恭禧发财  ( Gong Xi Fa Cài)  or (Gong Hey Fat Choy)

Since it is Chinese New year, I thought it proper to introduce one of my new works. This is Male Foo Lion.  Sometimes referred to as a foo dog, foo dogs are really lions. Foo Lions are very important symbols in Chinese culture and references to them are easy to find. The most famous being sets of Foo Lions from the Ming and Qing dynasties found in the Forbidden Palace in the center of Beijing, China.

I wanted to bring forth and center upon the emotion in the statue by giving a close-cropped view of the Male Foo Lionterrifying teeth and eyes of the lion. I envisioned the lion launching out of the frame at the viewer with its ferocious intent. The image was desaturated of color and various dodge and burn techniques are then applied along with a cool blue filter to enhance the whites and boost the blacks in the image.

Traditionally, Foo Lions offer protection from negative energy or Qi. It does this in the same way gargoyles work. The scarier or more grotesque the figure is the better.   This frightening visage protects its owner by scaring away the negative energy. It’s also important to place the Foo lion so that it is facing a door or window from which the owner of the lion believes negative energy may come.

The male lion usually has a ball under his paw representing the world and is always located towards the left side of an opening looking out. The female lion is found with a cub under its paw representing support. The female lion is always located towards the right side of the opening looking out.

This particular image is that of the male lion. So, if you wish to feel the full effects of its protection, place it on the left side of an entrance hallway, door, or window.

 

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Modern Art Uncovers The Deceptive Practices of CIA

What if you found that someone used your life’s work, all those endless hours tirelessly sacrificed in the name of your occupation,to represent what it wasn’t originally meant to say? What would you do?   Would you merely shrug your shoulders? Or, protest as loudly as you could?   Worse, what if you never knew it happened?

It has happened. Mark Rothko was an artist in the same way vein as Jackson Pollack and the other great contemporaries. He was an artist in every sense of the world. He once proclaimed:

“I’m not an abstractionist. I’m not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on. And the fact that a lot of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions . . . The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them. And if you, as you say, are moved only by their color relationship, then you miss the point.” ― Mark Rothko

 

But how bitter would he be today if he learned that his

This image is of a drawing, painting, print, or other two-dimensional work of art. It is believed that the use of low-resolution images of works of art for critical commentary on the work in question, the artistic genre or technique of the work of art or the school to which the artist belongs qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law.
Magenta,_Black,_Green_on_Orange’,_oil_on_canvas_painting_by_Mark_Rothko,_1947,_Museum_of_Modern_Art

legacy is not the art that he loved creating so much? What if he had learned his art was a weapon of the Cold War?

According to an article in the Independent, in the 1950’s this is exactly what happened to him.   Rothko was a Jewish immigrant from Russia who became an important artist in the primitive style of art. Being a Russian living in America during in the 1950’s era of McCarthyism was not easy. But, being a popular artist made him the perfect target for the CIA.

The CIA created several shadow art foundations and worked with many of the wealthiest elitists in the country to make sure that art from the likes of Jason Pollack and Mark Rothko was not only seen but were to become incredibly famous.   Why? According to Saunders:

 “Because in the propaganda war with the Soviet Union, this new artistic movement could be held up as proof of the creativity, the intellectual freedom, and the cultural power of the US. Russian art, strapped into the communist ideological straitjacket, could not compete.”

Also,

“Abstract Expression- ism was the kind of art that made Socialist Realism look even more stylized and more rigid and confined than it was. And that relationship was exploited in some of the exhibitions.”

In an Saunders’s interview with Tom Braden, first chief of the CIA’s International Organisations Division he said :

“We wanted to unite all the people who were writers, who were musicians, who were artists, to demonstrate that the West and the United States was devoted to freedom of expression and to intellectual achievement, without any rigid barriers as to what you must write, and what you must say, and what you must do, and what you must paint, which was what was going on in the Soviet Union. I think it was the most important division that the agency had, and I think that it played an enormous role in the Cold War.”

 

There is little doubt that painters like Pollack or Rothko would still be famous names even without the help of the CIA.  Help the artists never knew they were receiving. But there is strong sign that perhaps there Abstract Expression style may not have been as popular for as long as it’s been.

Being an artist, this whole subject has me wondering. When I look at my art, What if…?  Nah….

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