Face Making

Artist Gwenn Seemel’s bilingual blog about art, portraiture, free culture, and feminism.

When people take photos of my art in the gallery

2012 . 12 . 08 - Comments / Commentaires (12)

- -—[version française]—- -

I don’t clear my throat or frown pointedly. I don’t chide them or berate them or bring up copyright to intimidate them. I don’t try to make them feel bad at all. And I certainly don’t try to stop them.

people photographing artwork in a gallery

When people take photos of my art in the gallery, they’re doing so for one of five of reasons:

  1. They are artists themselves and they appreciate my technique. They are inspired by something I’ve done, and they want to remember to try it themselves.
  2. They are art students. They are learning to see and to make, and, on this particular day, I happen to be their teacher.
  3. They are art lovers and they’ve enjoyed quite a lot of art in their day. Still, my art is special to them and worth being photographed.
  4. They are people touched by camera-craze. The proliferation of affordable digital cameras and camera phones has created a culture wherein many people don’t feel something is real unless they document it. The resulting image may not even be the point: it’s the experience of pressing the “shutter release” button that matters to some. These people don’t see the thing until their camera shows them the thing. (No really, I’m sure it’s a diagnosable psychological condition.)
  5. They are photographing my work in poor light conditions with less-than-optimal equipment because they intend to sell reproductions of the work for a pretty penny. This means they are either:
    • a) profoundly stupid, and they should be educated about their mistakes and perhaps even pointed towards my free e-book which would be an excellent source of high quality images of my work.
    • b) a figment of copyright law’s deranged imagination, and they would stop haunting artists everywhere if only people would watch the documentary RIP: A Remix Manifesto or read Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture.

In the end, you don’t have to be an advocate of free culture to love people who photograph your work in the gallery. You just have to be thoughtful.

Please feel free to photograph my work. My show, Crime Against Nature, is up at Place right now:

Pedigree: 13 December, 7 - 8 PM
Reception: 15 December, 5 - 9 PM
Artist talk: 5 January, 2 - 3 PM
Open: through 12 January
Hours: Thursday - Sunday, 12 - 6 PM

3rd floor of Pioneer Place
SW 5th and Yamhill, Portland, Oregon

- Publishing my e-book on Facebook / Publier mon livre numérique sur Facebook
- Learning from copying / Apprendre avec l’imitation
- Imitate this. / Imitez ceci.

CATEGORIES: - English - TOP POSTS - Crime - Philosophy - Photography - Uncopyright -

Gwenn Seemel on Liberapay     Gwenn Seemel on Patreon

(12) Comments / Commentaires: When people take photos of my art in the gallery

-- Debbie McClendon -- 2012 . 12 . 08 --

We don’t mine people taking pictures either - but We always appreciate when they ask and if they don’t we make sure they get a business card and encourage them to visit the website for a professional shot of the work to enjoy- also remind them that the work is copyrighted, especially those who take several digital images as 3-D replication is growing… Art is to inspire!

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

-- Gwenn -- 2012 . 12 . 08 --

When you see a hairstyle on someone and decide to do it yourself, do you ask permission of that someone before you try it?  When you taste a dish that is exquisite, do you ask permission of the chef before you make it yourself? 

Asking permission sounds like a nice and reasonable thing to ask for, but it’s part of the way we gum up other people’s creativity since the mechanism that drives creativity is imitation!  Requiring that people ask permission serves no real purpose except to assuage some ill-defined anxiety on the part of the artist.  I think we would do better to look at the source of that fear than to get in the way of people enjoying art.

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

-- Vanessa Anthony -- 2012 . 12 . 08 --

This is why I love you! You understand action for what it is a compliment. You rock my world!

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

-- Kelly -- 2012 . 12 . 08 --

I wonder if there will be a diagnosis or pathology or ? related to the digital photo obsession.  On Facebook, if you don’t have a photo to share, you didn’t do it.  If you don’t have an instagram photo to share you’re just not hip (and didn’t do it). There are great stretches of my life where I didn’t even exist because there are no photos.

... and I tend to enjoy blogs that have more photos and envy the activities people show me on Facebook.

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

-- Gwenn -- 2012 . 12 . 11 --

@Nessa: It is such a compliment!  And thank you.

@Kelly: I know what you mean.  Today I spoke with a group of high schoolers at the gallery, and they all wanted their picture taken with me.  I’m a little nervous about being everyone’s Facebook post, but also really flattered.  They think I’m famous…or else they’re confusing me with Santa.  Hmmm…

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

-- Quin Sweetman -- 2012 . 12 . 14 --

This is great, Gwenn! Looking forward to seeing your show in person, tomorrow.

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

-- Gwenn -- 2012 . 12 . 16 --

Thanks Quin!

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

-- Gretha Lindwood -- 2013 . 02 . 07 --

Yes, it gives one pause to see photos being taken of our work without having been asked for permission first. But another reason people may take photos of an artist’s work is to see how the art might look in their own home. They can look at the image, think about it, maybe save up for it. Twice I’ve been startled by an email, which included a low res image of my own work, from an unknown party who wanted to know whether “_________” painting was still available. And both times I was able to say “yes” and make the sale, well after the event had ended!

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

-- Gwenn -- 2013 . 02 . 08 --

Awesome, Gretha!  One more good reason to be pleased that people are taking pictures of your work.

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

-- Jenni -- 2016 . 10 . 27 --

I always take it as a compliment if someone photographs my art. As an artist I do photograph other artists work, work that inspires or excites me or works that I just really like. I don’t photograph them to copy them,

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

-- Jill -- 2016 . 10 . 27 --

Totally agree with you——often I am inspired by art and want to remember what it was about the piece that spoke to me, and I do that with a photo. Frankly, at this point in my career I am totally flattered by folks thinking my work is worth photographing.

I was once asked if I thought it was “safe” to have my giclees done in Hong Kong (the counterfeit capitol being right next door and all). What if my work appeared in the tourist art market in Hong Kong?  You know what? I would buy the first piece I saw and be thrilled they thought it worth copying. I gave away a large image to an embroidery school in Yunnan to copy for their silk embroidery designs. I have all I need—-they need the $$ so if they thought it worth copying I am happy for it to bring them more wealth in a poor region of the PRC.  Love your viewpoint Gwen!!!!

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

-- Gwenn -- 2016 . 10 . 28 --

@Jenni: I do too! On both counts. When I take pictures, it’s just notes I’m making to myself about something I’d like to try or something I found interesting.

@Jill: Did you see what they made of your work? That’s always my favorite part of being open with my work, seeing how the image is remixed by someone else!

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

Add a comment / Ajouter un commentaire

Name / Votre nom:

Email / Votre e-mail:

(Visible only to Gwenn / Visible uniquement pour Gwenn)

URL / Votre URL:

(Optional / Facultatif)

Comment / Commentaire:

(You can use / Vous pouvez utiliser: < a >, < b >, < i >)

 Remember me for next time. / Retenez mes coordonnées.

 Email me new comments. / Abonnez-moi au fil de discussion.

Please enter the characters you see below / Veuillez rédiger le mot que vous voyez ci-dessous: