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I'm often sort of surprised when the discussion goes to a question of what the artist has the "right" to do. The odd thing about this is that I do not recall a case - even once - where the photographer's "right" to make his or her decision was questioned. Whether a choice is an effective one or a good one is an entirely different question.
Are you referring to Maji's comment about "An artist has the right to his artistic interpretation"? He is simply stating that as a fact, from what I see, not questioning whether an artist has a "right to edit as he/she see's fit". Though I am sure Maji can comment for himself.
But why are you surprised, if anyone brought up what an artist's right is or isn't? I am not at all. As a group and as individuals as we give opinions and thoughts on what works or doesn't, it could easily be seen questioning someones right to make a decision. We think so often, especially here in America in regards to freedom, yet as a society and as a group even in here, I have seen instances where we have put down someones photograph to extent that person probably felt they didn't have a right to edit their photos as they wanted because of the pressure of acceptance by the norm. I know I have been rather blunt and tactless a time or two in commented for example on someone's HDR photo's. Could that person then not leave feeling like they didn't have the right to process his/her photo's as they desired? Yes, they easily could have felt that because of peer pressure. Even if we didn't specifically say that they didn't have the "right" to edit their shots as they did, that person could easily have left feeling that in all reality they no longer had that right do to our responses...
Just a few thoughts at 2:30am....
Thanks for continuing the discussion.
I was thinking about how the discussion about whether an artist's interpretation or style "works" for individual viewers - which is a great, interesting, and valid subject for discussion - sometimes wanders off into the supposed question of whether artists have the "right" to do certain things.
This is often used as a distraction from the real discussion about the response to the artist's work - whether it works and how, for each of us from our own subjective perspectives. From what you write, it seems that you might fundamentally agree with me.
The sensitivity about what people may say about our work is a normal and natural thing. The challenge to the photographer is to think about how to respond to criticism - sometimes it is best to hear and understand it, whether or not we ultimately agree. If a group of people respond to our work in an unexpected way, there is something to be gained by hearing and understanding that response. Some excellent photographers actually look for this. A friend of mine had a solo show at the Center for Photographic Arts in Carmel. During the final hours of the show a number of us were there with him and he asked us, individually, a very uncomfortable but courageous question: "If you could remove one of my photographs from the show, which one would it be and why?" This photographer is an artist with a long history of critical acclaim and success and a person who has a strong sense of style. Yet, rather than engaging in the defensive "you can't tell me what to do" distraction, he was asking us to share honest critique with him. It was an astonishingly courageous thing for him to do - and quite a challenge to each of us to think deeply and seriously about our response to his work and then to share and explain the response to him.
(To be fair, there are times when the "response" to creative work can be mean-spirited and unhelpful. One of the challenges is learning the difference between useful criticism and venting by angry people, and a second one is figuring out how to - or not to - respond to that sort of stuff. :-)
So, my main point in calling out the "right to do this" comment was to avoid letting that distract us from looking honestly and with sensitivity at what we respond to in photographs and why.