Musings on Photography

I haven’t taken it yet

Posted in art is a verb, process by Paul Butzi on March 7, 2010

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What seems like a very long time ago, I wrote a little essay titled “Art is a Verb, Not a Noun“. In it, I advanced my argument that it’s the actual practice of artmaking that’s important, and not the objects that are the end result.

Viewed from this process standpoint, the best art is not the art that you buy, it’s the art that you participated in making. From the process perspective the photograph you made this morning is more valuable than a vintage print of Moonrise over Hernandez, NM. And the photograph you print tomorrow is more valuable than Pepper #30. Most importantly, the photograph you are making right now is the most important photograph of all, because it’s an unfinished image; you’re actually in the process. Process is important; the print is just an artifact, a byproduct of the process. The real goal of making art is to be making art, not the objects you create.

So I was delighted to read this interview with Lord Snowdon, where when asked if he had a favorite photograph, he replied

“Yes.” Pause. “I haven’t taken it yet.”

The photos you have yet to make are better than all the ones you’ve made. The photos you’ve made are all dead, ossified things. They’re mementos of an event, and not the event itself. Only the one you’re making right now and all the ones beyond it hold out the prospect of being in that process.

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  1. Queenpa said, on March 7, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Wonderful, could not agree more. Thank you for your Site and many very good composed pictures. May the Force be with you and your arms never be too weak to hold your camera!


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