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Cotton Candy Photography

While channel surfing I stumbled across a photographer telling a harrowing tale of a treacherous hike over dangerous terrain to capture his very popular photo of a famous arch in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. I lingered on this channel for a while because I am familiar with this location having been there many times during our workshops. I was confused however, my experience was quite different. On this same trail, our group had no problem traversing the near fatal short walk from the parking lot. We survived the flat ground and lack of incline, even our ninety year old attendee made it with ease. The trail was one of the easiest in the park, so either this particular photographer was exaggerating his story, or took some other non-existent trail.

What makes a photograph successful? Is it the work itself? Or is it the photographer's ability to tell fish stories (the exaggerated and sometimes fabricated tales behind the work) combined with an ingenious marketing plan; knowing what people want to hear and delivering, selling photographs more for their stories than the art itself.

This photographers work does make quite an impression when viewed in one of his many galleries. They are displayed on dark painted walls in a moody environment. Only the heavily saturated prints with creative titles are illuminated. Unfortunately when taken home and hung under normal lighting conditions, this wow effect is quickly lost. The buyer is left with a very expensive nicely framed image with no depth of subject and simple composition. The kind of image one quickly grows tired of looking at.

Our society has been brainwashed into believing this type of one dimensional cotton candy photography is art. Could It be exposure to reality television is effecting our taste in artwork?

Talented photographers come in to our store every day for us to print their images, many times their photos are as good, if not better, than some of these pop star photographers. It is such a shame that these stunning images with simple origins may never be seen.

So photographer's who have yet to achieve rock star status, be proud of your work! Display your prints with pride. I have hope that one day the buying public will see through the smoke and mirrors and appreciate quality photography once again.

…Or take the easy way and use this simple formula: story + saturation + a snazzy title = success

-Courtenay Gilbert

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