Thomas, Attila, and Carl,
This is exactly what I meant about a few comments from the artist helping out a lot in some cases.
Perhaps, "fill in the blank" bonsai will not be catching on anytime soon. However, perhaps there is a vacancy for "fill in the blank" bonsai photography.
My initial thoughts about this tree were based on all previous pictures of bonsai that I had seen, which aim to portray the tree as it is. The pictures I've seen in the past, and the things people have said about them has led me to the assumption that the purpose of a photograph of bonsai is to show you what it looks like.
This photo and the following discussion has brought to light (no pun intended) an array of other ideas, for instance:
Perhaps the art of photographing bonsai in some cases could be held up as an entirely different art form than creating the bonsai itself. Without any conscious reasoning, up to this point, I have always, on some level discounted the actual art of photographing bonsai as a necessary by-product to show your "bonsai art" to the world.
I have to wonder about something. How would our critiques differ if this were the situation:
We didn't have cameras. We didn't have internet, but instead once a month we all met at a central place in the world to discuss bonsai, critique trees and talk about art, ect..
Only, we all didn't bring our trees, but rather paintings of the trees that we wanted other people's opinions on. I'm sure that there are some here that could paint it themselves, others would have to hire and artist. Without exception, everyone of those paintings of trees would not only depict the tree, but also the artists rendering of the "essence" of the tree.
In a sense, what I'm getting at is that the medium for expressing bonsai follows the same path as bonsai itself. By that, I mean in bonsai most of us have come to the agreement that it's not so much about creating an exact replica of a giant tree in miniature, but rather creating the illusion and capturing the essence of that large tree in miniature.
Does this philosophy indeed carry over to the medium used to portray bonsai today? Some people do in fact try to light their trees in order catch all the details that they are proud of, ect. But is there a need for some leniency and tolerance of "essence photographs"?
If you have two trees, one is incredible in person and the other is 'so-so'. The owner of the "incredible" tree doesn't really know how to take a photo and even though his photo shows all the amazing parts of his tree, it's lacking something (we've all seen pictures like that). But the owner of the "so-so" tree takes a photo like the one above and photographically speaking, the "so-so" tree blows the other one away.
Which is the better tree?
So, Thomas. In my first post I gave my opinion of what I thought of the tree, itself. Attila, whether he realizes it or not gave his opinion of the photo of the tree. Which were you looking for? In your topic you titled it "Juniper", and in the post you wrote A little something with a juniper procumbens. All of this led me to believe you wanted to know what we thought about the tree. So, as far as you're concerned are you displaying the tree or the photo? Also, I would be interested to know if the question I'm posing is actually of any importance?
And you are exactly right Thomas, the fact that your tree has sparked this discussion makes it a valid work of art in my eyes. When I used to play in a band in New Orleans we would write songs not to please people, but we tried to make them as potent as possible. We wanted to elicit some sort of reaction. Either like it or hate it. If we asked someone what they thought and they said "It's alright, I guess" or took some middle of the road approach then we weren't accomplishing our goal. The point of art is to elicit some sort of reaction. If a piece draws nothing but luke-warm attitudes then it probably isn't worth the canvas it's painted on or the pot it's planted in.
Looking forward to the continuation of this discussion,