There is a new breed of quiltmaker. Or perhaps it is a new breed of quilt show visitor? Either way, this particular species carries a state of the art digital with him/her, or has a spouse/partner to carry/deploy it for them. They walk their way round the exhibit, flashing and clicking away, taking pictures not only of the quilts themselves, but the artists' statements that accompany them. Occasionally, they'll take a closer look at a piece. Then they take a close up. They whizz round the room in this way, and then pass onto the next one. The more serious minded bring tripods, and trip up other viewers as well as getting in the way.
When did we become wed to our cameras? Probably around the time we realised that catalogues can be expensive, and good quality digital cameras became less and less expensive. Personally, I don't take pictures at quilt shows. Partly, that's because I know that looking at a photo isn't really going to remind me of the piece. I'll look at it and wonder what I saw in the original, more likely as not, because so much is lost in the translation from cloth to image that takes place when you use a camera. And if I don't remember a piece without an image, then I suspect it wasn't worth remembering. Partly, it's because I want to concentrate on the works themselves, have a direct dialogue with them, possibly write down one or two notes (juggling camera AND notebook AND pen is...err...challenging...). And partly it's because I know too many curators. They remind me that the costs of putting up an exhibit is high, particularly if it's travelling abroad, that grant funding is difficult to find and that a catalogue may well be the only source of income possible to defray those expenses not covered by the venue. Ultimately, if catalogues remain unsold, then shows may well tour less, if at all, and we will miss out on the unique experience of being in the presence of a collection of good work. And that would be a pity.
What's your view? As an artist, as a quiltmaker, as a viewer? To photograph, or not to photograph? And how do you feel about the floods of uncredited photographs that appear on websites all over the world after a quilt show? Did anyone ask your permission? Do you think they should?