What is the point of photography and art? My thought:
To make sublime (great) photos, which inspire and uplift the souls of future photographers.
Is it possible to make timeless photos?
I think it is obvious that it is possible to make great photos. The better question is:
What standard do you set for yourself?
Or in other words:
How great do you aspire towards?
Who are your benchmarks?
For me, my benchmarks include:
Why Henri Cartier-Bresson?
Master of elegance, painterly photos, humanity as a dance of shapes and forms, surrealism, documenting history and humanity, dynamism and energy in photos, photos of people as human sculpture, seeing the world as beautiful (in spite of all the pain and destruction), variety of imagery, grandeur of ambition, extreme self-discipline, worldly travels, pioneering the ‘decisive moment‘ concept, boldness in shooting, love of art, love of people, his sense of ‘visual play’ (composition as a fun game), layered composition photos.
I actually believe that Henri Cartier-Bresson is under-rated. Why? We only know him for his iconic photos, but his lesser well-known photos are also insanely epic!
Henri’s only fault:
He eventually stopped innovating in photography and got bored with it, then gave up photography, and picked up painting/drawing instead (which he actually wasn’t very good at).
This is a sign of a man who has wearied of life. Perhaps he was ultimately a pessimist? Perhaps fame did him a disservice? (apparently he hated that the public only liked his puddle jumping photos, and not his other works which HCB considered greater).
Can a photograph last forever?
Obviously from a physics/philosophical view, no photograph can last “forever”. When we say forever what do we mean? 100 years? 1000 years? 10,000 years?
Furthermore, it is difficult to ascertain which photos will last, and which photos won’t last.
However, I believe it is the STRIVING towards making great photos is what makes photography fun and interesting!
And this is the thing:
My taste changes over time. Photos in the past which I once thought were ‘meh’, become VERY APPEALING to me as time goes on!
I call this process “letting your photos marinate“. Time is the ultimate counselor of how great our photos are (or not).
Shooting a lot of photos to make a few great ones.
This is the fun game of photography:
You will have to shoot HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of photographs to make just a few good photos.
You might spend thousands of dollars, many years of your life, and hundreds of hours pursuing your photographic art for just a few great photos.
Is this justified! YES!!!
What are you trying to communicate through your photos?
Every author is trying to communicate something about their personal philosophy and world-view.
For example, the ancient poet Homer strove to communicate in the Iliad:
Heroism, bravery, bravado is part of the divine comedy of life — even though it does lead to your own personal death and downfall.
What did our friend Robert Capa try to communicate through his photos?
Life is beautiful, joyful! To see the world from the eyes of a child. Even though there is much death, destruction and tragedy in life — life is still 1000x justified!
My ambitions as a photographer-artist
I want to show others that humans are beautiful. Humanity is beautiful. Being alive is the greatest possible joy known to mankind.
All of reality (both the joyful and tragic) are justified — for even one great moment, or even one great art-work (one great photograph).