Five reasons people give away their art

Back in the day I was the Director of Market Research at BYTE magazine.  My job was to prove the value of our readership for the ad sales staff.  I used to cringe when the young, inexperienced sales people used to come back to the publisher with some truly awful deals that would basically be giving away ad space.  Any fool can give things away for less than their value.   A seasoned professional or informed amateur recognizes the value of their work and the market needs.

The Line Up
The Line Up – call in the usual suspects –

Why do people give away their photographs and art?

The global art market achieved total sales of $63.8 billion in 2015.  People want to buy art and photography for their home and office.  They need to purchase art and photography for commercial purposes such as advertising, web pages, brochures, magazines, books, etc yet some people continue to give away their artwork and photographs or seriously undervalue their work.

Why is this?  I can think of five reasons:

Ignorance – They don’t understand the value of images in today’s marketplace and don’t realize the value of what they have. I recently sold an image for $360 profit a friend gave me. He didn’t understand the value of the image he had and I offered to sell it for him.  Images have value in the fine art market and commercial market.  It is just a matter of realizing it.

Exposure – Photographers and artists are often under the impression that giving away their images will somehow lead to future sales or recognition. The problem is that millions of images are given away every day on social media and there isn’t enough “exposure” to go around. What’s the value of this exposure? Perhaps 1 cent in today’s market. People value what they pay for – no one brags about art they got for free. And no one who has gotten something for free is going to pay for it the next time. They’ll just look for another free source the next time. And the value of someone looking for freebies as a “collector” is worthless. You want to cultivate a follow of people who value what you are offering, not people looking for freebies.

They are amateurs or hobbyists – The amateur or hobbyist is not looking to make a living on their photography or artwork.  They simply enjoy producing images for fun and are happy enough for others to look at their images.  They don’t want to the pressure of having to ask for money and would rather just give away their images.  They live for likes and shares.   The problem with this mindset is that it brings down the over all market and prevents the amateur or hobbyist from ever becoming a professional.  After being conditioned with instant success from likes and shares of their freebies, they are unprepared with standing up for the true value of their work and asking for money for their time, skill and effort.  The advanced amateur or hobbyist is setting themselves up for being asked to shoot weddings, soccer games, portraits for free.

They want to build up a portfolio – This might be the best reason to actually giving away services for free.  If you need to create a portfolio and need access to models or locations or maybe even a good project idea.  But there is no reason to give your time and effort for nothing.  Barter and exchange services instead.  Trade headshots for modeling time.  Create a video for a local business in exchange to some free time at the gym or on the massage table.  Don’t work for free, instead exchange one valuable service for another.

They don’t know how easy it is to take their goods to market – Some artists and photographers simple don’t know how easy it is to participate in the art and photography markets.  In the old days perhaps the only way to sell your art and photography was to take your portfolio around to galleries or sell directly to the public.  But with the Internet there are countless markets amateurs and professional photographers and artists can participate .  Stock agencies cater to professional image buyers and online galleries and print on demand sites sell directly to the public.  I explain how to sell via POD sites in these blog posts:

The Visual Poetry Series by Edward M. Fielding

Visual Poetry Series by Edward M. Fielding

Introducing the Visual Poetry series of surreal, multi-layered composite photography by Edward M. Fielding full of meaning and intrigue.

If you could photograph your dreams, what would they look like? The Visual Poetry series by Edward M. Fielding uses layered imagery to recreate a dream-like vision with plenty of room for interpretation.

Skull - part of the visual poetry series.
Skull – part of the visual poetry series.

The Voyage by Edward M. Fielding
The Voyage by Edward M. Fielding – part of the visual poetry series.

Kansas by Edward M. Fielding
Kansas by Edward M. Fielding

"Fiction" by Edward M. Fielding
“Fiction” by Edward M. Fielding

See the entire series –

About The Series

Edward M. Fielding talks about the Visual Poetry Series:

“This series represents a stream of consciousness.  A playful exploration of imaginary and a non-linear thought process.  A signal final image in the series can begin hours before with browsing through my collection of over 100,000 photographs as well as historical and archived images from the past.

An image can head off on many tangents before the final composite is achieved.  Each image is carefully blended and layered in Adobe Photoshop with textures applied as well as drop shadows giving many of the images in the series a 3D look or depth.

I usually don’t know where the image is headed when I begin and the results are as surprising to me as perhaps the viewer.  Almost like a walking dream, I allow the story to unfold without too many conscious “rules” being applied or too much over thinking that would get in the way of the image coming to life from seemingly random thought.  I often think that this might be the way dreams are constructed in our sleeping heads – random images from the days activities, organized into some sort of storyline.”  –  Edward M. Fielding –

This fine art photography series is pure “sandbox” playing except with the use of images rather than toy trucks, shovels and pails.  The images lead from one to another until the artist says “stop” – its done.


Notes from New York City Trip

Heading back to the Upper Valley in New Hampshire (rivers, lakes, trees, mountains, cows, light traffic) on the Dartmouth Coach from the Grand Central area to home in five hours or so via a well appointed bus with movies, snacks, bathroom and Wifi. About the Dartmouth Coach – great service on an upscale bus with comfy seats and lots of amenities but do they have to show the same movies both ways?

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Hampton Inn Times Square 

  • Great location – close to Hell’s Kitchen for great dining, not far from Highline.
  • Nice enough room, a bit on the small size but its NYC
  • Roof deck
  • Free breakfast but not enough space in the breakfast area at peak times.
  • Slow elevators. I ended up walking down 27 flights after waiting 15 minutes for an elevator.

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Trip Highlights

We packed in a lot during our trip and walked a zillion miles.

  • Saw Wicked on Broadway at the Gershwin Theater.  Excellent show.
  • Had great Asisan food at Obao in Hell’s Kitchen.  Reasonably priced and they had a bonus happy hour going on when we went before the show.
  • Trip to the MET Breurer to see the Paul Klee and Diane Arbus shows.  Excellent.  Had some Italian food for lunch and then on to the main MET.  Everything is farther than it looks on the map.
  • Took the subway to Brooklyn to visit the Pratt Institute campus.  It was raining but the campus is a beautiful sculpture garden and was a treat to see.  Went to the nearby Blick store and got a bagel and a smear of cream cheese.
  • Took the subway back to the Brooklyn Bridge – bought some umbrellas and walked up to the bridge.  Excellent although freezing.
  • Walked to the 911 Memorial which was a bit irritating with people smiling and taking selfies.  WTF?
  • Walked through SOHO, stopped in to see some Art Wolfe and other photographers stuff at a gallery, continued through Greenwich Villiage and Chelsea to see the Parsons New School area.
  • Checked out the Chelsea Market, had a beer and some snacks, did a bit of shopping and then went on the Highline.
  • Highline was awesome.  So nice to walk without having to stop at every light.
  • Walked around the waterfront area and then had a great sandwich at City Sandwich.

Did I mention we did a lot of walking?  Last morning, a bit more walking around the Times Square, Hell’s Kitchen and Highline area.  Lunch at Pershing Square Cafe and an ice cream in Grand Central before getting back on the bus.  Lots of stuff packed in a few days.  Probably got a few decent photos too.

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French River Prince Edward Island

French River Art Online

Photographing French River

Early one morning on our photographic exploration trip on Prince Edward Island, I woke up early, shrugged off coffee, grabbed my camera and went out to take photographs when the cottage full of sleepy teenagers slept in.

We were staying in the New London area around the New London light and the French River. French River is a long inlet from the sea and sports several marina as well as mussel farming in its shelter harbor of calm water.

One of the most photographed spots is of French River marina from the scenic lookout point but I want to venture further and find the second marina. I found the right road and ventured down the hill to find the beautiful little harbor full of lobster boats and fishing shacks. Many of the boats were still in the harbor as the lobster fishing season was between the Spring and Fall seasons. Often many of these boats take tourists out on deep sea fishing charters during the summer season, often at sunset when the island shines like a jewel with its red cliffs and many lighthouses.

Prince Edward Island Art Online

Photographing Prince Edward Island especially early in the morning before any tourists are up and about is a treat.  Besides most areas just outside of the tourist spots are quiet most of the day anyway.  You will see a steady stream of people stopping by the lighthouses on their quest to see as many as they can on their vacation but there is no spot on the island that compares to a big city.  The vibe is laid back, country, rural and relaxing.

One of the most painted panoramas on Prince Edward Island, the tiny fishing village of French River exudes the rural charm and timeless beauty so desired by many of our Island`s guests. The surrounding hills provide a breathtaking view of New London Bay while the secluded beach is one of the Island`s most delightful locations. The nearby Cape Tryon Lighthouse, perched on the tip of spectacular sandstone cliffs, offers a mesmerizing seascape and accompanying view of the rolling farmlands that dominates the surrounding landscape.


French River, Prince Edward Island
French River, Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island Photography Prints
More French River and Prince Edward Island photographs and artwork here:

Selling art: Should I specialize? Or generalize?

A recent question came up on the Fine Art America forum asking if “specializing” is better for selling artwork vs. generalizing.  First off the question confused the idea of style and a niche.

Photography Prints

A niche and style are two different things. One is based on subject, the other is a look.

A niche market is the subset of the market on which a specific product is focused. The market niche defines as the product features aimed at satisfying specific market needs, as well as the price range, production quality and the demographics that is intended to impact. It is also a small market segment.

A niche give you something to promote. Its easier to find a group to market the niche. The problem comes if your niche is too small. Like all the people who buy a macro lens and start taking bug pictures. Turns out only 10 people in the world want a bug picture in their living room and 9 out of 10 of those already have a macro lens.

While a niche is focusing on a particular subject or theme, style is the aesthetic or a set of principles underlying and guiding the work of a particular artist or artistic movement.  You style might be documentary, it might be black and white with deep depth of field, it might be bold, colorful and graphic, it might dark, somber, and moody.   It might be crowded with lots of detail or minimalist with simple shapes.

In the visual arts, style is a “…distinctive manner which permits the grouping of works into related categories.” or “…any distinctive, and therefore recognizable, way in which an act is performed or an artifact made or ought to be performed and made.”

In the end you want to focus your work on your interests.  Subjects and themes that your personal vision of the world draws you too.  From working on capturing your interests, your style will emerge. In the beginning you might try copying past great photographers that you admire but eventually you will stop looking at others work and start producing something uniquely yours.

This video blog from The Art of Photography covers this topic by describing “interpretations” by various photographers.

Work in Series

Anyone serious about a career in the artwork should be thinking in terms of series or in developing a body of work that could fit in a gallery show or book under a specific theme.

If you just want to sell random things then be all over the place. Shotgun approach. Just have lots and lots of images.

Consider that when you look at the recently sold page on Fine Art America it might seem as if buyers are choosing artwork at random but the individual buyer does not pick something at random. They have a deep affinity to the artwork they choose to spend their hard earned money on. The recently sold page shows the results of thousands of individual purchases, not some collective hive mind. The images might appear all over the place because the buyer’s interests are all over the place. You only have to satisfy the need of a single buyer, not all of them.

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Tiki’s Maui Hawaii Adventure

Photographs from Maui Hawaii

A sneak peak at the collection of Maui Hawaii photographs in the Hawaii gallery of photographer Edward M. Fielding (

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Photographs from Maui, Hawaii, introduced by the famous Tiki the Westie.  Tiki is all decked out for his tropical vacation to the sunny island beaches, mountains and waterfalls of Maui, Hawaii.

Tiki might seem familiar to you as the supermodel who appeared in the book “The Quotable Westie” available on Amazon.

More funny westie photographs –

The photographs of surf board fences, beautiful island beaches, life guard stations and more are available from the portfolio called “The Last Resort” by Edward M. Fielding.  You can order framed art, canvas prints, metal prints, cards and more here:

All orders come with an 30 day money back guarantee and are printed and framed to museum standards by a firm that has been doing business with artists for over 30 years.

The Maui Hawaii photographs complement the images of surfing and surfers that has been a theme in my work over the years from surfing breaks at Rye Beach in New Hampshire to the shores of California, to the waters off of Hawaii where I was born.

Choose your favorite surfing canvas prints, framed prints, greeting cards, throw pillows, duvet covers, t-shirts, and more from  available designs.  You can choose the style, background, mat, frame, and more to create one of a kind artwork that matches your home or office.

Search for “hawaii”, “maui”, “surfing”, “westies”, “dogs”, “Tiki”, “beach” or whatever you like.  With over 4,000 images in the collection you are sure to find something perfect for yourself or as a gift.


The stuff that dreams are made of

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” – Edgar Allan Poe

Dream Making Stuff – Making Dreams into Art

In the movie,  The Maltese Falcon (1941), Sam Spade (played by Humphrey Bogart) refers to “the stuff that dreams are made of.” as he gazes at sculpture of a bird the “Maltese Falcon” from the movie title.  Spade was paraphrasing a much older expression which can be traced back to – who else – William Shakespeare. In Act IV of The Tempest, Prospero says “We are such stuff / As dreams are made on, and our little life / Is rounded with a sleep.”

Dreams are successions of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that occur usually involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. The content and purpose of dreams are not definitively understood, though they have been a topic of scientific speculation, as well as a subject of philosophical and religious interest, throughout recorded history.

Fine art photographer Edward M. Fielding has a series of artwork called “Visual Poetry” which also seems to be made from dreams and in some cases nightmares.  This series of highly manipulated photography layers images upon images to create dreams-capes in which several images build upon each other to create the overall fantasy imagery.

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“Let Sleeping Bears Lie” is part of an ongoing series called “Visual Poetry” by Edward M. Fielding which consists of heavily layered and manipulated black and white photography with dream or nightmare like qualities.

Visual Poetry by Edward M. Fielding
The Visual Poetry Series by Edward M. Fielding – layers of photographic work building to a final dream like image.


Dreams are windows into worlds beyond the ordinary. Some people have dreams that give them guidance about the smallest details of their daily life along with profound spiritual insights. Others experience unconditional and transforming love in their dreams.


Photography Prints

What’s scarier?  A world with magic or one without?

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Pursuit of the American Dream, a nest to feather.  A car in the garage.  A chicken in every pot.

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A beating heart ripped out and offered to you.  Dream or nightmare?

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A woman’s naked body appear in the smoke from a pipe – what have you been smoking?

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A train ride away to another world.  What would happen if you got on the wrong train and ended up somewhere totally new and different.  What if you woke and found yourself in the body of someone else?

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What’s over that wall? What’s through that door?  Perhaps an enchanting secret garden to explore or perhaps a Bengal Tiger waiting to pounce.  Curiosity can lead to discovery of both good and evil.  It killed the cat Mothers warn but it also lead to some of mankind’s greatest accomplishments.
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Death stares out in this untitled piece from the Visual Poetry series of dream like images by Edward M. Fielding.

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“Words Take Flight” off the vintage typewriter and into the sky in this dream inspired piece by Edward M. Fielding from the Visual Poetry series.

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Kansas, a powerful, dream-like surreal image by fine art photographer Edward M. Fielding, with ties to the Wizard of Oz.  Toto, perhaps we are still in Kanasas after all.

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Roots, a multi-layered, dream inspired artwork by Edward M. Fielding, recalls humans ties to nature.

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Buckminster Fuller’s concept of “Space Ship Earth” realized in a surrealist landscape of floating hexagon structures.  Geodesic domes become lighter than air and float above the landscape in this dream induced artwork by Edward M. Fielding.

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A zebra enters an old round barn in New Hampshire in this surrealism composite black and white layered dream-like imagery of a photograph by Edward M. Fielding.

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A surreal landscape of old abandoned brick buildings and a threatening sky. Crown Point, NY – fine art photography by Edward M. Fielding –


Surrealism – 20th-century avant-garde movement in art and literature that sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind, for example by the irrational juxtaposition of images. The Surrealist artists sought to channel the unconscious as a means to unlock the power of the imagination. Disdaining rationalism and literary realism, and powerfully influenced by psychoanalysis, the Surrealists believed the rational mind repressed the power of the imagination, weighting it down with taboos.Dream art is any form of art directly based on material from dreams, or which employs dream-like imagery.

Visual Poetry – Literary theorists have identified visual poetry as a development of concrete poetry but with the characteristics of intermedia in which non-representational language and visual elements predominate.

Amazing Doors From Around The World

A collection of amazing doors from around the world

This series of artwork featuring amazing doors and doorways from the travels of fine art photographer Edward M. Fielding feature amazing entrances from Europe to New England.

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell

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This ancient door, showing signs of age, was discovered while waiting for ticketed time entrance to the Borghese museum. The Galleria Borghese is an art gallery in Rome, Italy, housed in the former Villa Borghese Pinciana. It is a building that was from the first integral with its gardens, nowadays considered quite separately by tourists as the Villa Borghese gardens. A colored pencil technique was used to enhance the original photograph.

“Opportunity does not knock, it presents itself when you beat down the door.” –  Kyle Chandler

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In this artwork, rustic steps lead up to the front door of an classic New England cottage on the beach. Found at Salisbury Beach in Massachusetts.

“There are always door openings. And gradually, it accumulates. The opportunities open up in front of you.” Buzz Aldrin
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“Out the Back Door” features classic early American colonial wooden construction found at the Canterbury Shaker Village in New Hampshire.

“Preconceived notions are the locks on the door to wisdom.”Mary Browne

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“Beyond the Blue Door” by Edward M. Fielding is the latest in a series of doorway images as well as a new edition to the new colored pencil technique offered by the artist. This techniques starts with original photographs from fine art photographer Edward M. Fielding’s portfolio of over 4,000 images and applies and build up layer upon layer of colored pencil like strokes and markings. The process takes several hours per image and eventually the original photograph disappears leaving only the pencil markings. The detail and tonal range of a photograph remains but it takes on a more artistic look that allows the viewer to appreciate the image in a whole new way.

Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.” – John Barrymore

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An old stucco arched building from the guilded age with peeling paint and chipped stucco. The Mount in Lenox, MA. Edith Wharton’s home. This was just the “garage” building on the estate.

“Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” Coco Chanel

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Rustic door on an old chicken coop in Etna, New Hampshire a stones throw from Hanover and Dartmouth College.

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” –  Milton Berle

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An old building in Quebec City with front door and bike outside on an angled street. Quebec City has a lot of amazing doors.

“I truly believe that everything that we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents; we’re all teachers – if we’re willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door.” – Marla Gibbs

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The old bank vault in a ruin of a building in a gold rush ghost town in Montana.

“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” Confucius

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Doorway of a Victorian mansion in Bar Harbor, Maine.

You can see more photographs and artwork of amazing doors and doorways in the Doors Portfolio:

My Rights Managed Portfolio on Arcangel

Memory Man Book Cover
The book cover for Memory Man featuring artwork by Edward M. Fielding
book cover
Leaf photograph on book cover by Edward M. Fielding
New book cover
Latest book cover licensing by Edward M. Fielding
Book cover by Edward M. Fielding
Edward M. Fielding’s artwork on a book cover
book cover by Edward M. Fielding
Patricia Macdonald book cover by Edward M. Fielding

A curated portfolio of my best work suitable for rights managed (RM) licensing is available through my agency Arcangel.  Arcangel is a photo image library that provides a select and distinct collection of image primarily to the publishing industry.

Arcangel Images Premium Collection

The Arcangel premium stock photography collection holds 300.000 carefully curated highly creative rights managed and royalty free images. It covers a wide range of general photographic subjects and themes, including people, landscapes, still life, concepts, historic, floral, travel and more. Right managed image licenses can be purchased with exclusivity or without.
Here’s a segment of an interview with  owner Michael Mascaro.  The complete interview can be seen at:

Arcangel has quite a distinctive aesthetic and visually you do not veer from a darker and more moody feel. Clearly you have a creative vision of how you sculpt the collection. How do you seek out your artists, decide where the images go (RF, RM) and arrive at subject matter?

Currently the collection holds around 270,000 images, all of these handpicked by Arcangel staff. This ensures we maintain extremely high standards and that images are relevant to the industries we work with. Although we do have many dark and moody images (many consider us the library of choice for thrillers & crime novels) the archive contains a very broad range of subjects and themes.

With regards how we find artists, they usually approach us. Our doors are always open to both new an established photographers. The contributors themselves decide if they want to sell RM or RF work, although 99% of our collection is rights-managed, as the majority of our clients require the protection that the RM licensing model offers.

The agency has a strong presence in the book cover market. Was this by design? How is the collection received in other segments?

We have a passion for the book industry… it’s our home. We have a deep understanding of our client’s needs and how they work. It’s our aim to make their job as easy, enjoyable and inspiring as possible. In return, the industry inspires us and our contributors…

Although  we do sell to other industries, the book trade is at the core of Arcangel.



Everyone Can Take One Good Picture

“Everyone can take one good picture, its the body of work that counts.”

If you reflect on a life does it matter if someone did something nice once or twice? Or is a lifetime of good deeds that matters? Same holds true with photography. If you shoot enough pictures you will eventually take at least one good photograph in your lifetime, after all Ansel Adams photographed consistently and famously said that 12 good photographs in a year would be a good crop.

What sets apart a good photographer from the “meh” photographer, is the ability to create a body of work that is good and consistent. Too often photographs seem to get compared to other art forms such as painting in which a single “masterpiece” is held up as the ultimate shot. But photography doesn’t usually work that way.

Photography is often about telling a story over time and from various angles. Often book form is the best way to experience photography rather than a single shot. Or a gallery show or even as a series of three or four images displayed together.

Take one of the most famous photography books of all time “The Americans” by Robert Frank.

The Americans by Robert Frank

The Americans, by Robert Frank, was a highly influential book in post-war American photography. It was first published in France in 1958, and the following year in the United States. The photographs were notable for their distanced view of both high and low strata of American society. The book as a whole created a complicated portrait of the period that was viewed as skeptical of contemporary values and evocative of ubiquitous loneliness. “Frank set out with his Guggenheim Grant to do something new and unconstrained by commercial diktats” and made “a now classic photography book in the iconoclastic spirit of the Beats”.

Robert Franks individual work is strong but as a series in book form it creates a body of work that is elevated to greatness.  Each individual image build on the previous to tell the story.

In this short video of Bruce Gilden critiquing submitted art photographs, watch when he gets to the final set of images and how the series of three images become so much stronger than any individual image.

Is This Art Photography Any Good? – Take it or Leave it with Bruce Gilden

Books mentioned in this article: