20 Effective Grant Writing Tips For Artists/Fine Art Photographers

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Follow These 8 Tips When Appling For NYFA Grants for Photographers and Visual Artists

The Complete List of Emergency Funds/Grant for Visual Artists

Fine Art Photography Teaching Tutorial: The “Crit”

Find Your Way Creatively: Let the Work Lead You Through, A Guide for Artists and Photographers

 

Want to Win Grants? 20 Tips for Artists and Fine Art Photographers

Who wouldn’t want to receive a grant to do their art or make photographs? Applying for one is an art in itself, however, and can be time consuming, anxiety provoking, frustrating and full of rejection. But if you keep at it, it works.

It starts with writing a great proposal, selecting strong work and completing the application on time. Become a sleuth too: learn as much as possible about the arts grant to glean what they might be looking for.

Put it all together, and it’s possible for fine art photographers, artists, writers, filmmakers, composers, musicians, choreographers, and dancers to win grants consistently and live off your art.

What I’ve Received

In about the last 18 months, I’ve won three grants and two artist residencies.

It started with a $2,500 photography grant; then one for $5,000–a check just arrived in the mail one day, which I didn’t open for a week because I thought it was a rejection letter; and finally one that paid my rent for six months (!) on my New York City apartment. I’ve also been accepted to Yaddo four times (in the last ten years), and attended three other artist’s residencies with an additional one coming up and wait listed for another.

Here are some of my experiences for writing a successful art or photography grant application.

1. Start at the Beginning–Feelings

How do you feel about applying for a grant as an artist/photographer?

A photographer friend, when applying for her first fine art photography grant, approached it with abject fear.

Am I worthy of applying?

Is the work good enough?

What right do I have asking for money?

Typical questions, and something I certainly felt during the first few dozen or so grant applications (and still feel from time to time). But after a while, like a building a muscle, those fears faded. And let them fade as quickly because there is work to do, as you will see below.

How do you feel about applying for a grant as an artist/photographer? This might seem like an odd place to start, but I consider it the real first step. Are you confident, full of fear, afraid you’re not doing it right, unsure if this is the right time? Do this to get them out of your system so you can move on. Do you know you don’t deserve a grant at this time? Then don’t apply. If you feel like you don’t deserve it, because of fear, well, that’s just part of the game. And apply. Recognize it so you can move on, because the next steps need all your attention.

2. Read and Research Everything

Read the grant requirements. Carefully. Thoroughly.

Yes, some people don’t do this (or are afraid to). But you have to know what the grant organization is looking for in order to see if your work fits the basic requirements. For the first time, I applied for the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography, for example, because I felt I had a body of work that was documentary-leaning, which is their main focus.

3. Note Deadlines and Requirements

I look first at the deadline and the basic grant requirements. If they need letters of recommendation, such as the Guggenheim Foundation award does, I make a note and build in an extra month or more to complete the application. If the due date is months away, I set it side. I personally use a contact management system called Salesforce. It’s a bit overkill for my purposes but gives me reminders before the deadline (so I don’t waste time wondering if I am missing a due date or not).

4. Research Winners

Do a Google search on the grant and especially on previous artists or photographers who’ve won.

About two weeks before the grant is due, I very carefully re-read every word on the web site, looking for any key tidbits: are they stressing letters of recommendations over the project proposal, does the jury change yearly? I then do a Google search on the grant and especially on previous artists or photographers who’ve won. This is where the sleuthing comes in. I glance–not study–the winners and any other information to get a sense of what type of work might be successful. Note, however, that this can change each year depending on the jury.

5. Contact the Grant Office

Usually, I reach out to the grant office directly. This is an important step that many artists and photographers overlook or avoid. Just ask them directly: what do they think makes a good application? How competitive is it? How many artists and photographers apply? They are usually very friendly and offer a few key bits of information.

6. Select Work

Select work that is coherent in theme, mood or subject.

After reviewing the grant, you should now have an idea about what art or photographs to submit. The best approach is to select work that is coherent in theme, mood or subject (or all of the above). Now is not the time to do a “greatest hits” overview, but rather present a cohesive body of work.

7. Put Aside to Percolate

Put together a draft selection of images, and then think about them for a few days, coming back several times to review them. Is this the best work and does this seem to fit what they are looking for?

8. Order the Images

Ordering the artwork could be important. Go back to the web site for instructions and see if they mention the order in which art will be presented. If so, think about the narrative your work creates, and re-order if necessary.

9. Start the Proposal

After the work is selected, now its time to write the proposal. I usually prefer to have an idea of what work I am presenting before I start writing, although this can change; doing both simultaneously is fine as well.

10. Be Clear

Be clear, concise and jargon-free when writing. This can be hard, especially for the first time. How to crystallize a body of work in 500 words or less? It’s not easy but this step brings clarity.

11. Write Using Plain English

Imagine how you would describe your work to a stranger.

One suggestion is to start writing without editing yourself. While doing this, imagine how you would describe your work to a stranger on the street. Avoid long complicated phrases, “art-speak,” the mention of theories and how you made the work (unless it’s crucial for the jury to know). Instead, use plain English, simple language and describe the what is in the work.

12. Review and Tweak

Put this aside for few days, coming back to tweak it from time to time. Now go back to the selected images. After writing the draft proposal, should additional images be added, removed or reordered? Does the selection visually reflect the proposal? If not, review and re-edit several additional times until it feels right.

13. Artist Statement

You might already have an artist’s statement. If so, great; if not, start writing. Use the same approach above. This could be a whole other article in itself, but write with clarity, avoid jargon, and be descriptive.

14. Get Other Documents

A CV and/or bio is often required. A CV is a simple, straightforward listing of your education, shows, awards, publications, lectures and collections your work is included in. If you are starting out and have little experience, don’t worry; if you have many shows, make sure your CV is up-to-date. For the bio, keep it simple and factual: it is a narrative version of your CV.

15. Finalize

A few days before the deadline, put everything together. Finalize both the images and the proposal, making additional minor changes–remember, this is a process.

16. Check Everything–Again

Go back once more to the grant web site to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Once everything looks good, complete the application (if there is one), carefully following the instructions.

17. Format Images

Size and format the images for uploading (or burn to CD, if necessary). Usually they should be set at 72 dpi and a certain pixel height and width. Sometimes the grant requires the files to be named a certain way, such as “John_Smith_01.jpg”. Sometimes the proposal needs to be formatted as a PDF. Be sure to check and follow requirements exactly.

18. Submit Early

Don’t wait til the last minute to upload.

Once everything is ready, upload (or in some cases, snail mail) the images, proposal, CV/Bio, artist’s statement and any other required documents. Avoid waiting until 11:59 pm or an hour before the grant is due because there could be computer problems, your internet could be down, or there might be last-minute technical issues. I try to submit the application the day before or at least six hours before the deadline. Take one last look checking for completeness or errors and hit the “submit” button.

19. Post Application Celebration

Congratulations! You are done, and submitted a grant application. Celebrate your accomplishment in some way, even if you just take an hour off, go to the movies or make an “artist date” by visiting a museum.

20. Keep Applying

It becomes a numbers game and keep applying.

Now its up to the jury. No need to worry, since you’ve done your part. Either you’ll get the grant or you won’t. It’s nothing personal, and try not to take it that way. Usually, it becomes a numbers game: apply to ten grants and win two; apply to five, win one. If you don’t win, get ready to try again next year. If you do win, great–and keep on applying.

Art Grant Consultation

If you have questions about grant applications, feel free to reach out. Also, I provide hands-on, personal art grant consultations, proposal writing, portfolio reviews and private photography tutorials.

Moon at Night, Mood is Dark: Nightlandscape Photograph

While wandering off the straight-as-an-arrow dirt road in the Prairies, a clump of trees appeared, and through one showed the moon in the near complete darkness.  The only other sounds besides my footsteps in the tall grass were crickets.

From the fine art photography series, “Between.”

Follow the Mountain, and Inspirational Tips for Artists/Fine Art Photographers, From Writer Neil Gaiman

Feeling Lost? Head Toward the Mountain


Neil Gaiman – Inspirational Commencement Speech at the University of the Arts 2012

Perhaps oddly, I came across inspiration in a room at 48 Wall Street at around 7:30pm on a Tuesday night.

In a bombast-free discussion, happily, (by Mitchell Reichgut, CEO of JUN Group, a great person) pointed out a profound notion: consider your artistic goals as a mountain in the distance, and ask yourself: are you stepping closer to the mountain or leaning  further away from it?

This crystallized the artistic dilemma–what are we doing and how do we keep our sights on getting there? Envisioning a mountain provides a compass and path through the “doubt” thickets; as well as hope and a reminder: it’s just over there, the artistic vision, so just look up and follow it, like a beacon in the distance.

It’s a reprieve from the struggles that artists/fine art photographers face, such as little details like eating and paying rent. When these doubts crop up, and they always do, consider viewing Neil Gaiman’s Commencement Speech at the University of the Arts in 2012, the originator of the follow-the-mountain notion.

Mr Gaiman further posits additional kernels of advice for artists, writers, fine art photographers. Go the original source, the video; below are highlights.

You Have No Idea What You Are Doing. Good

When first starting out, you have no idea what you are doing. This is great. People who know what they are doing know the rules, including what is possible and what is impossible. The more you don’t know, the more unfettered you are to follow your own creative path undeterred.

Follow the Mountain

Imagine where you want to be as an artist/photographer. Then imagine that to be a mountain, a distant goal. If you are walking towards the mountain, everything is alright. And when you are unsure and doubts rises, now is the time to really go towards the mountain. If a seemingly tantalizing corporate job offer appears or if anything else crops up to make you move away from your goals, avoid it.

Failing Means Movement

Dealing with the problem of failure requires a thick skin because not every project survives. You may put out hundreds of things, like a message in a bottle–images, stories, postcards–hoping for one to come back. If you make mistakes, that means you are out in the world doing things.  Just continue.

Follow The Passion

Don’t photograph, write or create art just for the money. The universe knows this. Nothing usually ever results; often, there is no money too. Instead, follow things that excite you. You have one thing that is unique, and it is you–this is your life saver.

You Are the Gatekeeper

The gatekeepers are leaving the gates. Make up your own rules. Pretend to be the person who is a successful fine art photographer, and think like they would.

Have Fun

Finally, enjoy and have fun.

Problems? Make Good Art

Sometimes/most times, things go wrong. When it gets tough, make good art.

If a marriage fails, a job is lost, or if “the cat explodes,” to quote Neil Gaiman, make good art. Do what only you can do best, on both the good and the bad days. The one thing you have is you, your voice, your story. Live only as you can. The moment you feel you are walking down the street naked, that could be the moment you’ve started to get it right.

 

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights

The art fair that improves each year, and is reasonable to navigate, AIPAD New York, mixes contemporary fine art photography with vintage work (although it’s getting more and more contemporary-based).

Here are a few highlights that I came across, although there are many more.  Don’t forget to look in the “bins” where other older Modern or Ninetieth Century photos can be hidden.

Or, a quick six second summary.

 

Katy Grannan, Kopeikin Gallery

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights: Katy Grannan Kopeikin Gallery
An earlier black and white, in modest size.

 

Thomas Roma, Howard Greenberg

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights: Thomas Roma Howard Greenberg
There are a handful of these dog/shadow images (full disclosure: Thom Roma was a graduate school teacher at Yale University).

 

Eugene Atget, Edwynn Houk Gallery

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights: Eugene Atget Edwynn Houk Gallery
There usually are a several more Atget’s, but this is a classic.

 

Sally Mann, Edwynn Houk Gallery

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights: Sally Mann Edwynn Houk Gallery
Also at Houk Gallery, an older Sally Mann.

 

Scott Conarroe, Stephen Bulger Gallery

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights: Scott Conarroe, Stephen Bulger Gallery
Traveling through North America with a view camera following ribbons of rail and rivers, Canadian Scott Conarroe produced some great work (and a book).

 

Lois Conner, Gitterman Gallery

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights: Lois Conner Gitterman Gallery
From about 1988 I think, a beautiful platinum print by Lois Conner, also from the Yale University MFA program.

 

Jen Davis, Lee Marks Fine Art

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights: Jen Davis Lee Marks Fine Art
I think Lee Marks Fine Art has been showing Jen Davis’ photographs for a number of years–perhaps five or ten?

 

Mike Smith, Lee Marks Fine Art

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights: Mike Smith Lee Marks Fine Art
Mike Smith also is a favorite of mine, and this large print proved popular with two red dots.

 

Nikolay Bakharev, Julie Saul Gallery

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights: Nikolay Bakharev Julie Saul Gallery
Who is Nikolay Bakharev? I’m not really sure but I like him.  I know he’s from Siberia and this image, along with a few others, are from the late 70’s and 80’s and capture a raw beauty. An Aperture book is in the works.

 

Alec Soth, Weinstein Gallery

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights: Alec Soth Weinstein Gallery
Nice Alec Soth, who usually has interesting photos at AIPAD.

 

Simone Kappeler, Galerie Esther Woerdehoff

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights: Simone Kappeler Galerie Esther Woerdehoff
Striking color by Simone Kappeler at Galerie Esther Woerdehoff’s booth.

 

Jerome Liebling, Steven Kasher Gallery

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights: Jerome Liebling Steven Kasher Gallery
Speaking of color, this Jerome Liebling was luscious.

 

John Chiara, Yossi Milo Gallery

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights:  John Chiara Yossi Milo Gallery
Yossi Milo seems to have been veering towards unique works over the last few years, such as this one by John Chiara.

 

J.D. Okhai Ojeikere, Gallery Fifty One

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights: J.D. Okhai Ojeikere Gallery Fifty One
Striking black and white by Nigerian artist J.D. Okhai Ojeikere.

 

Olaf Otto Becker, Galerie f5.6

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights: Olaf Otto Becker Galerie f5.6
This is a booth at the fair that I usually seek out, and find interesting work, like this image by Olaf Otto Becker at Galerie f5.6.

 

Helen Levitt, Laurence Miller Gallery

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights: Helen Levitt Laurence Miller Gallery
A lesser known but nice Levitt.

 

Sofia Valiente, Daniel Blau

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights: Sofia Valiente Daniel Blau
An interesting series of several dozen photos of a sexual predator residence.

 

Margaret Bourke-White, Daniel Blau

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights:  Margaret Bourke White Daniel Blau
I think this was one of the most interesting series at the fair.  Here Margaret Bourke-White, at Daniel Blau, focused on theatre and dancers–an amazing collection.

 

Paul Haviland, Lee Gallery

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights: Paul Haviland Lee Gallery
A beautiful gravure print.

 

Robert Adams, Lee Gallery

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights: Robert Adams Lee Gallery
An enchanting and slightly mysterious classic Robert Adams.

 

Jaqueline Hasseink, Benrubi Gallery

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights: Jaqueline Hasseink Benrubi Gallery
Strikingly large print by at Jaqueline Hasseink at Benrubi Gallery

 

ClampArt

AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights AIPAD New York 2015 Photography Highlights: ClampArt

 

 

 

 

Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New Artists

Photography Abounds at Frieze New York

Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New,  Velcro Suit

Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Photo Books
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Photo Books

As the 2015 edition of Frieze New York makes it way back to Randell’s Island once again, a range of photographs can found.   But there seem to be less of the “usual suspects,” and more of a mix of European and Asian work.

Below are a few notable photos.

Roe Ethridge, at Andrew Kreps

Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Roe Ethridge, Andrew Kreps
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Roe Ethridge, Andrew Kreps

Thomas Demand, at Matthew Marks Gallery

Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Thomas Demand, Matthew Marks Gallery
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Thomas Demand, Matthew Marks Gallery

Tina Barney, at Paul Kasmin Gallery

Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Tina Barney, Paul Kasmin Gallery
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Tina Barney, Paul Kasmin Gallery

Cindy Sherman, at Skarskedt

Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New,  Cindy Sherman at Skarskedt
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Cindy Sherman at Skarskedt

Desiree Dolron, At Grimm

 

Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Desiree Dolron
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Desiree Dolron

William Eggleston, at Andrea Rosen

Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, William Eggleston, Andrea Rosen
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, William Eggleston, Andrea Rosen

James Welling, at Maureen Paley

Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, James Welling, Maureen Paley
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, James Welling, Maureen Paley

Torbjorn Rodlandm, at Algus Greenspon

Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Torbjorn Rodland
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Torbjorn Rodland

Robert Mapplethorpe, at Xavier Hufkens

Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Robert Mapplethorpe, Xavier Hufkens
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Robert Mapplethorpe, Xavier Hufkens

Richard Mosse, at Jack Shainman Gallery

Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Richard Mosse, Jack Shainman Gallery
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Richard Mosse, Jack Shainman Gallery

Wolfgang Tillmans, at Maureen Paley

Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Wolfgang Tillmans, Maureen Paley
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Wolfgang Tillmans, Maureen Paley

Trevor Paglen, at Altman Siegel

Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New,  Trevor Paglen, Altman Siegel
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Trevor Paglen, Altman Siegel

Laurie Simmons, at Salon 94

Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New,  Laurie Simmons, Salon 94
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Laurie Simmons, Salon 94

Wolfgang Tillmans, at Buchholz Berlin

Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Wolfgang Tillmans, Buchholz Berlin
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Wolfgang Tillmans, Buchholz Berlin

Chi Wen Gallery

Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Chi Wen Gallery
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Chi Wen Gallery

Yosuke Takeda

Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Yosuke Takeda
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Yosuke Takeda

Yasuhiro Ishimoto, at Taka Ishii Gallery

Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Yasuhiro Ishimoto, Taka Ishii Gallery
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Yasuhiro Ishimoto, Taka Ishii Gallery
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Stephen Shore Photobook
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Stephen Shore Photobook
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New,  Alec Soth Songbook
Frieze New York 2015 Photography: Few Classics, Mostly New, Alec Soth Songbook

Start with the Eye not a Camera: How to Learn Fine Art Photography

Learning Fine Art Photography

[blockquote author=”Brassai”]To me photography must suggest, not insist or explain. —Brassai[/blockquote]
Being an artist/photographer starts not necessarily with a camera but by quietly observing all. Translating this creative vision to a photographic print will come later.

Have a Voracious Eye

Start with the Eye not a Camera: Learning Fine Art Photography, Have a Voracious Eye @SteveGiovinco

Look at everything; have a voracious eye. Be open to all, and study (without leering), for example, how the man across from you on the subway folds the newspaper, then grips the hand rail, glances down, lost in thought; the woman’s face as she moves past you on the elevator; witness the glowing lights of the city in background in a night landscape after rain.

Once you start looking, really looking, you’ll start to see magic, and this is where art comes from. Avoid observing with your brain, and let go of what you know. Rather get lost in the moment, and feel what is around you.

Look at the Masters

Start with the Eye not a Camera: Learning Fine Art Photography, Martin Parr @SteveGiovinco

Next, look at photographs by master photographers you like. Start by visiting the Metropolitan Museum or Museum of Modern Art the in New York for great examples of great work, ranging from to Atget’s then-vanishing Paris, Robert Frank’s lonely vision of America, or William Eggleston’s quiet saturated minor mysteries of the everyday (or Martin Parr, above). Also gather books of fine art photographers, and flip through them frequently.

Start Shooting

Start with the Eye not a Camera: Learning Fine Art Photography, Start Shooting @SteveGiovinco

Now pick up the camera. Take pictures of everything. Don’t get bogged down with the best camera or lens–they matter little in creating excellent work. Instead, just start shooting.

Be Critical

Start with the Eye not a Camera: Learning Fine Art Photography, Be Critical @SteveGiovinco

Use a critical eye when reviewing your work. Let go of any initial impetus that lead you to make the image in the first place; rather, observe carefully what is in the photo (inspiration rarely matches the result. No matter.). What is crucial is what is seen when looking at the image.

One of the best approaches is to not focus on the “good” pictures but study those that are not quite perfect and a bit baffling, because these–the ones you don’t understand–will lead you in developing a unique creative photographic vision.

Repeat

Keep looking, shooting, and reviewing what results in the photograph.

Questions?  Feel free to contact Steve Giovinco for more information about “The Crit.”

Snapchat for Fine Art Photography: Disappearance As The Act of Seeing

Is There a “Snapchat Aesthetic”?

Similar to the “snapshot” aesthetic that developed out the 60s, and influenced artists such as Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus and many others, it’s important to review popular culture’s usage of current image making tools. In the sixties and seventies, easy to use cameras brought photography to the masses; today, it could be phone apps.

Snapchat, the app whose images disappear without a trace (mostly) is interesting to look at. Notoriously, some have used this for more illicit purposes, but most teens and those in their twenties have abandoned Facebook long ago to gravitate towards this app en masse. There are many dozens of millions of users who post here daily. And amazingly, all the half a billion images disappear just as quickly.

If you’ve not used it, Snapchat is a simple way of taking pictures. Just open the app, point, and click. Write a caption if you want and select who of your followers to send it to. One option, “My Story,” lasts for twenty-four hours; otherwise the images disappear seconds after viewed.

How can this of interest to photographers?

Snapchat for Fine Art Photography: The Act of Seeing Equals Disappearance @SteveGiovinco

There are a few interesting aspects here.

First, you can only post an image that you actually take. This gives the app an air of authenticity since you must add an image in real time. Once posted, viewers can click on the image to see it. But once seen, they can never see it again. This gives a precious, unique quality to the viewing process. Also, there is a closed system of viewers: they must find you and follow you which is less easy to do than Instagram or Twitter, for example, where you can easily follow strangers.

With this in mind, Snapchat is a somewhat curious method for disseminating images, since its impermanent fleeting nature makes it more akin to a one-time Polaroid in a way, or almost the opposite of the latent image: once seen, it dissolves away. Images fade between three to ten seconds or so, contrary to “photographs,” which usually have a permanence associated to them.

What if images where made to disappear?

How would looking at photographs change?

Snapchat for Fine Art Photography: Disappearance As The Act of Seeing @SteveGiovinco

We are used to sitting down, opening William Eggleston’s Guide or Robert Frank’s Americans, and pausing, looking and re-looking. What if after we opened the Americans, all the photos vanished after we turned the page? Or went to a gallery exhibition and after viewing, the photos would fade?

Disappearance As The Act of Seeing

A book of latent images seems unlikely, but Snapchat raises interesting questions for photographers, and how this might impact future image-makers.  Just as the burgeoning then-new “fine art photographers” who looked at what was around them in the 60s, and developed the advent of Street Photography, more personal work and their variants,  current and future art school artists are being influenced by the tools around them now.

One seismic shift could rangle with the very notion of what photography is: permanence  could drop from the lexicon. Although in a sense, many images we currently see are very impermanent, such as television, websites, mobile phones and tablet devices the current expectation of a print lasting for years/decades or even a digital image showing up “forever” (who knows?) on the internet may be old fashioned thinking.

But if a photo is not long lasting then does it’s emotional value shift to some other realm–more like film, where images just flash by but can be registered on a psychological level or more like…life, where we experience the world around us visually with immediacy but no tangible artifact to hold on to?

There are few artists using Snapchat with this usage in mind.

One is Alec Soth. He posts frequently, mostly daily, of daily activities.

Snapchat for Fine Art Photography: The Act of Seeing Equals Disappearance @SteveGiovinco

 

I am planning my own Snapchat project too, where images of my father would be posted daily, and quickly fade once viewed. This impermanence as experienced in the app fits well with the notion of memory and letting go–the emotional vanishing mirrors the physical one.

The very act of seeing equals disappearance.

See related articles:

8 Ways Artists and Photographers Should Use Social Media: The Complete Guide

The Shining Unicorn: How to Get an Art Gallery

Breakfast time (Sorry Stephen Shore): From Series on My Father

What’s for Breakfast?

This photograph is from the series on my father.

I think this is what he had for breakfast for many decades (the place mats certainly seem to have been in use for many years).