Portraits: Kristen & Betty

Hello all you babes in Toyland,

This weekend I hosted my friend, Kristen, who was visiting from NYC. We did the whole “DC thing” and by that I mean we sunbathed all afternoon on my roof while drinking boxed wine. Incidentally, I give this newly discovered boxed wine 5 stars for utility and 2 stars for taste. Our vitamin D therapy led to the first sunburn of the season, so I feel like summer is officially here.

The image of Kristen above was taken across the street from the Portrait Gallery with my iPhone.¬† We visited the Portrait Gallery to check out the exhibit, Portraiture Now: Communities. I recommend seeing it while it’s showing. Photo-realist painter Jim Torok’s pieces were incredible. This kind of painting has always fascinated me. In fact, my all time favorite piece of art is a photo-realistic painting called Betty by Gerhard Richter. I would often visit Betty when she hung in the St. Louis Art Museum. To experience her in person is really breathtaking. She holds a certain power over me, inspiring the color palette for my living space.

Betty by Gerhard Richter

The exhibit got me thinking about the accessibility of photography and it’s effect on the validity of photography as an art form. Many photographers will argue that the camera phone cheapens the perceived value of the medium. Don’t even get me started on what fine art painters think of us, it’s not good. I don’t hold this belief. Personally, I’m happy to see people excited over images their cameras produce. In many people this sparks an interest in learning “real” photography, the kind that involves an understanding of shutter speed, aperture, focal lengths and ISO. For most, however, camera phones are a fun tool of expression, and what’s wrong that? As children we are given crayons to play with and we use them to record our surroundings and fanciful imagination. The camera phone is like those crayons, where as real cameras are like that of oil paints in the hands of master artists.

But what about the fact that photography has zero barrier for entry? Anyone with a credit card can purchase a higher-end prosumer camera and call themselves a photographer. Some will even turn professional, charging clients money, even before they develop their craft. There is nothing as legitimizing as a business card and a blog. Can we call what these folks produce, in the absence of expertise, art? No! Mastery of one’s craft, a deliberation, a premeditation – if you will, is a requisite of art. It should not surprise you to learn that I despise punk music for the same reason.

Despite everything, this photographer loves her iPhone. Still hates punk.