And I think that's why many people have stopped appreciating art the way it was meant to be appreciated. There's no real thought or enjoyment. It's certainly convenient to have such awesome things available everywhere you look, but sometimes the more there is of something, the easier it is to pass it by for the next sparkly object.
Photography is probably one of the worst as far as industry saturation. Anyone with $500 to spare can buy a DSLR, which means that there are a lot of people out there who think that having a decent camera suddenly makes one a photographer. It's a little more complicated than that...but that said, you're only as good as your audience perceives you to be. I visit new photography sites every day (online AND on FB) and I'm absolutely floored at just how many there are! Lots and lots of talent, lots of creativity and things that make you sit up & take notice...and lots and lots of mediocrity that's really depressing.
On FB, it's so much easier to "like" something rather than taking the time to study it and write a thoughtful comment or compliment. Mainly because the average person on FB has about 200 friends, and while one friend is putting up their latest vacation pics, another is putting up photos of their sculptures at a local gallery, or their handmade jewelry, or their pen & ink sketches, or their sweet kids. You have a job, a family, a life...who has time to do more than "like" a pic of something to show your support?
I did a mini bridal detail shoot yesterday. It involved taking a total of 5 photos of Irish themed wedding jewelry. It took 1.5 hours...not because I had to snap several photos and get five that were "good", but because I had to decide what I was going to photograph, gather it, stage it in the most interesting fashion, plan for my light, decide the best angles, make sure I had the most appropriate lenses and camera settings, then take the pics...then upload, then edit, then post. I wanted to show off the jewelry in a clean, elegant way without being boring in their display. A lot of thought went into those five little pics and I'm happy with the results. I generally don't get feedback from anyone so I'm never sure if my work is any good or anything special...I just have to keep reminding myself that my clients always seem really happy with their photos and that *I* love what I do, and that has to be enough. :)
I'm not complaining, incidentally. It's just a statement on how we as a society too often take art for granted. Art should be revered...it's part of what makes the world special. It's how many people express themselves and their personalities and give you this cherished glimpse into their souls.
For me, when I see that a photographer (or any other artist I admire) has something new to see, I set aside time to look at it. It usually involves getting something to drink and a snack, and then I turn off the tv, tune out the distractions, and give it my full attention. When Katelyn James or Laura Yang post a new wedding on their blogs, I consider my first look at their photos to be an exciting thing. I sit back, relax, and study each and every photo like the art it is. I take in the light, the color, the textures, and get caught up in the dreamy perfection that is every wedding they shoot.
I'm nowhere near that yet. I may never be in their class of photography. But I'd like to think that doesn't make me any less of an artist. So much thought really does go into everything I photograph, and I am always taking pictures with my mind everywhere around me, planning for the next chance I'll have to actually freeze frame the image with my camera. I hope that someday even a few people take the time to linger over my pictures, and that they get a sense of beauty and joy from them.
Art is extremely accessible these days, but that doesn't mean that one shouldn't still stop and smell the roses. There is an artist behind each and every one of those pieces on display.
Try it one of these days...find art you really love, in any medium, and give it the attention and respect it deserves. It might become your new morning ritual, an oasis in the middle of a crazy afternoon at work, or your unwinding right before bed. Life passes by so quickly...don't forget to savor the little things.
AND...on an exciting note, my MarkII arrived today! I have it until Monday and it's beautiful. I'd cradle it in my arms and sing to it except that my hubby might commit me! :) I'm so tickled pink to use it to photograph the awesome Bethany & Dave this weekend in WV and then the beautiful Erin on Sunday night in DC. Woohoo! :)