What Type of Photographer?

The Three Types of Photography That Appeal to Me and Their Intersection

While I was recently poking around on the Royal Society of Photography website I was curious to come across the genres of photography into which you could categorize your body of work for assessment. Of the eight categories only three really appealed to me:

Contemporary: Photography that communicates a visual realisation of a stated argument, idea or concept.

Landscape Photography: Photography that illustrates and interprets earth’s habitats, from the remotest wilderness to urban environs

Visual Art Photography: Photography which communicates a creative vision.

These are quite broad and give you a lot of space to work in. Never quite satisfied. And because all three appeal to me, I wondered about the intersections of these genres and what’s there.

I had fun putting together the graphic above to explore this a little bit. Also fun to learn a bit more about the history of photography in this way.

I think that ‘contemporary’ could be interpreted in two ways – it could mean ‘of our time‘, it could also mean ‘conceptual’. I’m going with ‘of our time’.

My new types of photography then are:

Contemporary Landscape – think Robert Adams or Edward Burtynsky

Fine Art Landscape – think Hiroshi Sugimoto or Michael Kenna

Contemporary Fine Art – I’m thinking of people such as Arno Rafael Minkkinen or those doing composites such as Jerry Uelsmann or John Paul Caponigro or what Jeremy Cowart is doing with photography, light projection and painting.

I still don’t want to be hemmed in by definitions but these seven categories – including contemporary fine art landscape – nicely encapsulate the world that I’m currently playing in.

How about you? Do you put a label on the kind of work that you’re doing? Does it help or hinder?

Friday Inspiration: Hiroshi Sugimoto

9 SUGIMOTO

Over the last week or so I’ve been making a list of my top 12 influences, visual artists and their work that influence and inspire me. Consistently over the years Hiroshi Sugimoto has made this list. Born in Japan, Sugimoto moved to the US to study in the mid-70’s eventually settling in New York. While he’s returned to a number of subjects repeatedly over the years, including ‘American Theatres’ in which he photographs old movie theaters and drive ins using long exposures in an attempt to show time in his photographs; ‘Dioramas’ which are beautifully executed photographs of exhibitions in natural history museums and more recently of wax-work figures; ‘Architecture’ in which he photographs structures slightly out of focus which gives a sense of the form that the architect had in mind without you getting lost in the details and my personal favorite ‘Seascapes’. His seascapes, such as the one above, give a real sense of the vastness of the ocean that particularly appeals to me.

Check out the documentary below for more about Sugimoto’s life and work.