In his 1973 song, Paul Simon, after reflecting on all the crap he learned in high school, pleaded with his mama not to take his Kodachrome away. Fortunately for us, the three featured photographers who spoke at Bainbridge Arts & Crafts on Saturday, January 4, had sufficient film to encompass a combined 100 years of creativity. Art Grice, Kay Walsh and Joel Sackett shared some very honest insights into the world of photography, each from their unique perspective.
Art expressed his belief that people take photographs to remember and record things. As someone who made his living with a camera, he’s now at a point in life where he can be less consumed with the next assignment and more focused on simply being where he is, soaking it all in.
Kay began doing landscape photography twenty years ago after a successful career as a scientist followed by several years sailing the ocean with her husband. She said that spending so much time living on the water experiencing the motion and interaction of the sea helped her learn to really see her surroundings. She transferred this insight onto the natural earthbound landscapes she now enjoys shooting.
For Joel, his professional and personal photographic experience has been all about self-discovery. His goal is to take himself out of the picture and capture the reality around him, especially here on Bainbridge Island. He spoke of an early experience on a travel magazine assignment in the Gobi Desert where he learned to physically survive by emulating his local guides who drank vodka, ate Spam stew every day and didn’t bathe. He also collected animal dung to start campfires. And so, he unwittingly set a new standard for photographic success — vodka, Spam, dirt and dung!
Interesting discussions arose regarding the art form of photography. When asked whether there was a point in time when photoshop-adjusted photos were no longer considered legitimate photography, the three artists concluded that the subject was of suspect value and probably unanswerable.
Finally, several people expressed opinions on ways to determine whether a photograph is “fine art.” The consensus seemed to be that fine art is highly subjective and, in many cases, a label only of interest to museums, galleries and those who are willing to pay big money for it.
The artists closed by expressing appreciation to Bainbridge Arts & Crafts for having a monthly exhibit entirely comprised of photographs. As someone who used to sell photos at the gallery more than 10 years ago, I really enjoyed seeing these beautiful pieces of “fine art” on the walls!
So, Mama, thanks for not taking their Kodachrome — and in Kate and Joel’s case, black-and-white film — away!