The Online Photographer

Check out our new site at!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Couple of Thoughts About 'Beauty'

by Carl Weese
A while back I showed new work to a dealer who has carried my prints for a number of years, mostly things like this. When he saw the new work his response was, "I understand your beautiful pictures, but I can't understand why you take pictures of stuff that isn't beautiful."

This puzzled me, because I think the only reason I ever photograph anything is because I find it beautiful, and the second set is every bit as beautiful as the first, at least to me. I decided that I must simply have a more inclusive notion of beauty than he. The second set of pictures is like a book in a language he can't read.

Well, OK, sometimes I make pictures because I think they're funny, but then I think humor is just a specific form of beauty.

And before we leave the subject of beauty:

I'm headed for the 2nd floor....

Posted by CARL WEESE


Anonymous Ernest Theisen said...

Hey Carl. I have always admired your work. Not only your eye but your exceptional craftsmanship. After Ansel A taught me how to make B&W silver prints,( I am one of the only picture makers in the world that was not one of his lab assistants) from his books, Ed Weston showed me that it was OK to make photographs of things or places I found interesting or beautiful or both. I saw an collection of his work at LACMA. I was stunned. I had seem most of them in books, but in person, egads! I don't do that kind of photography now, haven't for years and I don't understand the concepts of truth in beauty or honesty in photography, never saw a dishonest photograph or didn't recognize it if I did. But I know what I like and I like what you do.You inspire me. ejt.

10:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been busy this weekend with the opening of a small show of my work and missed the "beauty" issue responses. One of my guests, and a buyer, told me that she loved my photographs because they were all so "restful." This is a very educated woman who comes from a literate and art background, so I find that I always listen to what she has to say. I appreciated the compliment, but I tried to analyze it; what did she really mean? The subjects were flowers, wild landscapes, and urban landscapes. The majority of the landscapes were not "beautiful," but they apparently had a quiet dignity to them that she felt was "restful." Maybe "beauty," in fine art photography, is in any photograph that elicits a positive emotion from the viewer. Documentary photography can, and often does, bring out the negative feelings, if that is the goal of the photographer, but the work can be still be recognized for its strength of presentation. If people find my work "restful," then I've succeeded in getting my vision across; even if that's passe' these days.

BTW, my daughter is a fairly young art/photo school graduate, whose work is totally different from mine, but who I really admire (and am jealous of) for her eye. She recently said to me that the current trends "were robbing the beauty from photography." Then again, maybe it's just a genetic thing.

Al Benas

11:16 PM  
Blogger Abba said...

This is my "Artist Statement"
"There is nothing to be invented in our visual world, it’s all there. I shy away from photographing glorious sunsets, flowers, animals and beautiful things (or people). I find myself again and again looking at ordinary everyday objects, at garbage, at the man in the street, looking at things really close up and trying to find beauty in their colour and form.
This gallery from my pbase site is typical of what I photograph:"
What is the point of photographing glorious beautiful things? Are photographers mobile photocopying machines or are we trying to discover the unseen amongst the seen? A beautiful flower is and will always remain a beautiful flower and the photographer is not presenting anything new in his photograph of that beauty - however, showing the beauty of the garbage can outside in the street is far more of a visual challenge.

11:50 PM  
Blogger eric kellerman said...

As I always say, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder's friends".

4:28 AM  
Blogger DonovanCO said...

I take many photos which are very similar to yours. In fact, I just came home from 3 days in Santa Fe, NM where I went out each morning just after sunrise looking for what I like to refer to as "found art." The world is full of potential images of seemingly ordinary objects which when properly photographed (or drawn, or painted) become something interesting to view. The book, "The Zen of Seeing", is an excellent basis for learning to find these pieces of "found art".

7:59 AM  
Blogger eolake said...

Mr. Weese,
The subjects of the panoramics may or may not be beautiful, but the pictures are.

6:16 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home