Anybody can take a picture of a naked man.
Words by Samuel Glass Jr.
This is a simple fact. Years and years’ worth of images from amateur and professional photographers, printed and reprinted and copied yet again in various coffee table books, skin mags, photo studies and collages and voluminous collections in galleries, libraries and the homes of private collectors all bear this out.
Even you or I could do it. We could even take candid, nude snaps of ourselves, and as the various websites and social media outlets display in this age of DIY digital dexterity, we often do. Simply remove clothes, aim, point and shoot.
But these are usually just pictures, nothing more, nothing less. When you talk about photography, then things get a little more complex. There is considerable skill involved in composing an image that attracts and holds the eye…entices the viewer to focus his gaze and explore. It helps to have a good subject, but it takes knowledge of depth-of-field, lighting, blocking, positioning…all of the elements of composition that will usually drive the uninspired novice to stick to his one-shot cameras from CVS or Walgreens, and venture no further into the medium.
But we’re just talking about photography. What about art?
Art goes levels deeper. Art inflames, incites, sparks conversation and debate. Art hits you in the brain pan, the heart, the gut and the crotch, and when it’s really good, it can do it all at the same time in the milliseconds it takes for you to draw breath to gasp at its insolence…its magnificence.
It doesn’t take a college degree or a practiced eye to recognize art, or when someone is an artist. Because when you see an image created by someone who has a bone-deep love, a driving passion for what they’re shooting, you just…know.