Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Whose Blur Is It, Anyway?

This was several years ago. I was visiting photographer Dan McCormack, and he invited me to go out and do some landscape shooting with him. I told him that I didn’t do photography at all any more…I had decided that I was either going to make a total commitment to it or nothing, and I’d chosen nothing. I didn’t even own a camera any more.

He said “Come on, it’ll be fun, I’ll loan you a camera,” and finally I said OK. So we went out, shooting B&W, walking through the woods. At one point I tripped over a root and the shutter was tripped. At the end of the day Dan ran the film and printed some contacts for me. It was as I had thought…I had some pretty but conventional images. You don’t develop an eye in one day. And there was one negative which was just a blur of squiggly lines.

So we fast forward a few months. Dan has an opening in a good gallery, and I go to it, and there on the wall, matted and framed, is my blur. And it looks great.

And the question I ask students, when I tell them this story, is: Whose photograph was it? Mine or Dan’s?

And my answer is, anyone who says it’s my image, and starts talking about intellectual property rights, or demanding shared credit, or getting a lawyer…will never be an artist.


ylla2026 said...

"...never be an artist", eh? But I guess I'll always be a lousy comedian. Because my first reaction would have been to go up to Dan and (jokingly) say, "Hey, that's MY blur, and I have the stubbed toe to prove it! I demand you give me the credit I'm due... damn, which means I guess I owe you one-tenth of your gallery rental fee. Who should I make the check out to?"

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Tad Richards said...

That's funny...that's exactly how I feel about it, too.

Jer said...

I so agree with you, Tad. Your friend is the owner because he is the one who saw art in the blur. (This is certainly no legal opinion, just the thoughts of a writer/editor/comic/social worker.) :) Love, Jer