What makes photography art? | Flore Zoé | TEDxDenHelder

Translator: Ivana Krivokuća
Reviewer: Peter van de Ven This is my work. What I create is me. Ah! Thank you. Man: “It was such a good
idea at the time!” Flore Zoé : Yes, getting in here
was a lot easier than getting out! (Applause) Thank you. We live in a time when we are bombarded
with visual information. Be it for social media, internet,
television, advertising, in and outside of our house, images containing a wide variety
of subjects are thrown at us. Did you know the human brain processes visual information over 60.000 times faster
than written information? If I was to show you two images per second for the upcoming 12 minutes, you would probably process
those 1400 plus images a lot faster than listening to me speak. Think about that. Almost everybody has a telephone
in their pockets these days, with a good working camera in it. This allows us to take pictures
of our daily lives, and we all do this. It has become a normal thing to do. We share two billion pictures
on Facebook every day. WhatsApp processes
over 900 million pictures shared between users every day. You could say photography
has become our second nature. The effect of this is that photography
as an art form demands an explanation. So, what makes photography art? Well, you tell me. But I will give it a shot. With me, it all started with my parents who chose to give me a great artist name – well, at least I think – Flore Zoé. I can’t thank them enough for this. I remember being around five years old
when I started to feel the need to create. I had all kinds of stories in my head: beautiful places, fairy tales,
people, animals, creatures. I tried very hard to put all these images
on paper, drawing or painting. But no matter how hard I tried, I failed. The picture in my head
was nothing like the image on paper. As you can imagine,
I got really frustrated. Or, as a New York journalist
very aptly pointed out, “Flore Zoé painted and drew
from a very early age, but this was clearly
not where her talents lay.” Thank you. But there it was, laying on the coffee table at our house. I remember very clearly
picking it up for the very first time. I behind the viewfinder,
looking through the visor. The most beautiful thing appeared: a frame. I now realized I could put
anything I wanted to in that frame. Wow! My childhood wasn’t always easy. I don’t want to be too dramatic about it, but it is important because it gives you some insight into
why I started to feel the urge to create. Having found the camera,
I could now create a world, a more beautiful place which made
me happy and I could escape in. It didn’t take long
before the tiny dictator in me started directing any and everything
in front of the camera. When I was preparing this talk – My mother always used to call me
a little potentate, but a lot of people don’t know
the definition for a potentate. Neither did I, so I looked it up, and the definition
of potentate says dictator. I thought, “Ok, thank you, mother.” I called her up and I said, “Mom, you
always used to call me a little dictator!” She said, “Oh no, no. It’s not
like you’re Trump or anything.” (Laughter) Ok, back to where I was. Yes, the tiny dictator started directing
any and everything in front of the camera. So, if you look a little bit towards me,
and you a bit to the side … Always with that little finger
pointing out where I thought it should be. Well, some things never change, I guess. My first steps into serious photography gave me the creative outlet to work
on some of the issues from my childhood. It took me away from why
I initially started creating, the beautiful world for me to escape into. The miserable images that followed
did not make me happy at all. Actually, these images made me doubt
whether to continue with photography. It wasn’t until one of my friends died – I was 26 when she died of ovarian cancer. I never go to the hospital, so I thought, “Why not go to the hospital
and get it checked? Better be safe than sorry.” I went to the hospital,
and I got really bad news, but I was on time. Her death saved my life. Right there, at that moment,
that was my epiphany. At that moment, I was back to why
I started creating in the first place. No matter how dark the subject,
my friend who just died, and I, who got the bad news, I was going to create something positive. On a lighter note:
What does make photography art? Well, with no form of arrogance, I would like to try
to show you the difference between fine art photography
and the picture taken by your aunt portraying her family,
dog, friends, dinner. Your aunt probably
didn’t go to school for it. She also probably didn’t have freelance
jobs on the side to finance her projects. She also probably … didn’t have to put
all of her time, effort and energy into getting her photos seen
and shown to the world, no months of studying and preparation
on a certain subject, no writing elaborate concepts
with in-depth analysis on the why, when and how
to create a certain image, no working on it together with a team, day and night, for that one perfect shot. After 20 years of trying really hard, I saw my creations hanging in the gallery in Paris
for the very first time, alongside masters like Picasso and Dali. I could only cry. At that point, I dared
calling myself an artist, and dared calling my work art. So, I gave it a shot
in what makes photography art. Do you now look at this artwork in a different way than before? Well, you tell me. I thank you. (Applause)


  1. sashaamsterdam February 28, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    You are an artist. It shows in your work. I do have a question though: does a lack of following a photography course, months of studying, writing concept notes as you put it etc make you inherently a bad photographer? In other words, do you need formal training to be seen as an artist? I thought being an artist is something you are born with and you amount of formal training can transform you into an artist. This, is my question to you.

  2. Betsy Devries March 1, 2017 at 6:37 pm

    The artist and the story are symbiotic. Thank you for sharing your start and your art.

  3. Surinder Singh July 21, 2017 at 3:14 am

    Well, interesting …

  4. Mark Zelinski Photography August 1, 2017 at 10:58 am

    I have a passion for art and photography. It's too bad that since my name isn't cool, I haven't been given bad news from my doctor, I didn't spend a fortune and years at art school and I don't have a "team" working for me that I can't ever call my work "Art". I guess the extremely talented, en plain air painters, who are feeding their souls and senses and have lived a relatively "normal" life are doomed as well. Disappointing. "Let me try to say this without sounding arrogant." That usually precedes an arrogant statement. This would have been a far better presentation if Ms. Zoe had taken other artist's work and showed why they were considered fine art, complimenting their vision and struggles instead of praising herself. Proverbs 27:2

  5. John David August 11, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    Selfish cow. Me me me!

  6. Run N Gun September 2, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Wow, fantastic message, Flore. Great advice for my budding photography channel Thank you!

  7. NoComment NoName September 6, 2017 at 3:37 am


  8. M Yu September 14, 2017 at 9:20 am

    Made me so uneasy just listening….

  9. tosvus September 18, 2017 at 5:05 am

    Honestly not impressed by her attitude or message. Her soft-spoken words do not mask her self-indulgence. Having 3 jobs on the side to finance your art, or spend "all your time" making your works known, is fairly irrelevant. Those are not necessarily important to create true art. By all means, she seems very capable, but this is hardly a productive message to send to people who want to be artists. There are many ways to reach a level where you create true art (and whether it is art or not is usually in the eye of the beholder..).

  10. Chris Hunt September 30, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    Loved it!

  11. papadakis1967 October 8, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    It's not art just by considering it so or just because you worked and spent a lot of money making it. I justt lost 12 minutes watching this.. nothing.

  12. Viggo Stokholm October 9, 2017 at 3:44 am

    She isn't an artist.

  13. shruti kandwal October 12, 2017 at 10:32 pm

    why I didn't like it. I was searching for photographers

  14. canturgan October 21, 2017 at 8:52 am

    I missed the point.

  15. Cyril Jayant October 22, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    Beautiful and Love your talk and your work. Thank you for the share and this education is need to present and transmit  to the present genaration to know what is art and where  it exists  especially  in any form of visual photography.

  16. Tom Smith November 20, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    Her work is a little to avante gard for me.

  17. Paul Petru Alexandru Cazacliu November 28, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    🙂 Sorry to say, but at least what was shown in here, with "pride", are just some of what it's called "collages"; cut-offs assembled together in order to form interesting compositions and that's all, nothing like those of Rafael's. A work of art, doesn't matter if it's visual, musical or literary; it's all about EMPATHY, the receiver has to feel it deep down inside it's soul, it has to move him subconsciously, in a transcendence. The biggest issue about what people are classifying as "art" is that it has turned just in an ultra-refined academic thing, without anything natural left, and just as the refined food it's unhealthy and false.

  18. Sunday Advantage December 28, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    I liked her photos. Keep up the good work

  19. Deth Deeler January 1, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    The comments made me open my eyes??

  20. Yorkshire Photo Walks January 5, 2018 at 7:51 am

    A beautiful, emotive talk.

  21. Bobby Collins January 13, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    this was the most ridiculous thing i've ever seen!

  22. Tom Upton January 16, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    Never answered the question in the title. Underwhelming.

  23. Parikshit Rao January 31, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    What's the point of this video?

  24. lordoftheflings February 12, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    boring and egotistical. Next.

  25. Edward Brotherton February 18, 2018 at 7:38 am

    In my opinion, take away the name of the artist, the need to explain the context of the work, and any other factor that is not in the frame and let it move you on it's own merit and for no other reason.  That to me is Art.

  26. Francesca February 21, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    Shame she had to call Trump a dictator… She must not have looked it up!

  27. Ralph Bennett March 4, 2018 at 3:37 am

    soooo arrogant……

  28. Julio Cesar Franco March 9, 2018 at 1:26 am

    so? art is all about her

  29. halvorsengirl March 10, 2018 at 8:09 pm


  30. Derrick Lytle March 13, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    So you pay money to learn and then put in time and that makes it art? Ya no.

  31. Andrew Cohen March 14, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    So effort and expense make a photograph art? Uh, no.

  32. Roberto Ramirez March 24, 2018 at 6:53 pm


  33. delimanyak March 25, 2018 at 10:52 am

    Waste of Time! Just visit Magnum Photos website to "see" the real photography.

  34. Bridget S March 29, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    This is the worst Ted talks I've ever seen. Not entertaining or interesting in the least. Very self involved speaker.. disappointing.

  35. musikalitet April 10, 2018 at 6:48 pm

    was it(her photos) art, or just artificial ?

  36. Mark Clarivette April 12, 2018 at 7:45 am

    Sorry,but this just sounds like a load of pretentious babble!

  37. José Juan Rivera April 13, 2018 at 4:04 am

    whaaaaaaat???? Such a poor way of expressing herself and she totally missed the point of the title. 11min. of my life to the toilet.

  38. Plasma D'Lite April 15, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    So she's had formal training, gives it more time and effort than most people do, and involves some other people to bring her vision to life – sounds like a whole lot of effort for some of the most boring, conventional and plain meh hi-res pictures I've ever seen.

  39. Cindy April 17, 2018 at 10:25 am

    Awesome. The soul revealed. Art.

  40. Dat1Guy April 19, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    So….photography is art when you work hard to learn it and to get it seen? It takes courage to get up and talk, and I appreciate her for doing that, but her message was confusing and very self centered. Seemed more like a way for her to tell us all how bad she had it and how hard she worked.

  41. frikinzero May 3, 2018 at 3:22 am

    photography isnt art. Its more like decor. Taking 200 photos and picking the best one, running through filters and calling it art really dilutes the real artists that spend hours and hours in brush strokes or sketching from a blank canvas. Photographers call photography art but most artists gringe at the definition.

  42. levityoflonging22 June 1, 2018 at 6:42 am

    Her photography is wonderful and definitely art, but this talk was all over the place. She didn't ever give a legitimate reason for why photography is art. While I agree that it is, because you took classes or tried really hard to get seen is not why.

  43. fcm June 11, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    I have learnt more from the comment section than I did watching this self-indulgent drivel. Worst Ted Talk ever.

  44. Lisa Longo June 15, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    you do not need to go to school in photography or any art form. Most of the greatest have not. Way to add Trump into this too.

  45. Smokeahontas June 16, 2018 at 8:00 pm

    Hi there all TEDxers! If you too are tired of listening to egocentric photographers and want to hear some in-depth psychological analysis I would highly recommend checking out Ted Forbes channel "The art of photography."

  46. Raymond Teh June 28, 2018 at 11:26 pm

    I believe the fact that she elaborated how much work she put into her photos was not because she is arrogant or what but was in the sense that most people do not appreciate or rate a piece of photography highly like fine art created by masters, so she worked her life to prove that Photography is indeed an art form that requires high skills as well. read the title lol.

  47. JayoJay June 30, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    This is just her life story. Nothing to do with photography.

  48. Neo 0101 August 5, 2018 at 3:57 am

    What makes photography art?!….Me Me Me!

  49. dot bot August 16, 2018 at 9:20 am

    I didnt get it

  50. samantha gregorikosis August 22, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    OH aren't I wonderful !

  51. NoComment NoName September 25, 2018 at 2:54 am

    "It's not like you're Trump or anything"??

  52. Your Waifu Sucks October 2, 2018 at 10:13 am

    Lots of people complain that anyone can do modern art and yet they consider photography an art…something anyone can do.

  53. esa marila October 4, 2018 at 7:17 am

    Everything can be called art, if it is presented as an art. Calling something Art doesn't mean it have more value or meaning than something that is not called art. Learn your medium to express your vision as you see it in your mind.

  54. David Collopy October 26, 2018 at 10:09 am

    I’ve never been so grateful to get a phone call while I was watching this. It saved me two minutes of agonising pomposity.

  55. Ariel Glaze October 31, 2018 at 12:36 am

    Boring. Waste of time. Don’t bother. It’s ok, I’m a boring speaker as well.

  56. Sean Cassady November 5, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    It's art if you consider it your art, Art is subjective and in the eye of the beholder – You don't have to go to school to be an artist

  57. Lucy Gentry November 8, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    I'm glad she has found something that fulfills her and that she enjoys. But her art is not to my taste at all. It appears contrived and commercial.

  58. Ina-Alice Danila November 19, 2018 at 7:41 am

    This is the worst Ted Talk ever. I've never heard of this lady with her perfect name, her perfect pictures. And now I know why. She's just s self centered wannabe artist

  59. J P November 19, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    Totally loved this. I've been struggling with the sudden devaluation of photography in society. Now that everyone can take a picture they suddenly think they know how to MAKE a picture. I think this video flew over most people's heads but if you have a deeper understanding and thoughtfulness about photography and art in general, then you understand what was being discussed in these videos. The title what MAKES photography art was definitely answered by 11 different, yet harmonious, viewpoints. I appreciated the video, thank you.

  60. red harcourt November 27, 2018 at 5:39 pm

    Worst TED talk I’ve ever seen…

  61. 84Edusp January 25, 2019 at 11:04 pm

    Dont loose your precious time watching this non sense video. Watch Sebastiao Salgado Ted´s talk, a self taught photographer, a trully artist and human being

  62. Jim Barcelona February 10, 2019 at 4:22 am

    The devitalized and limp applause at the end sums this talk up very well. The speaker's fantasy photographs belie the sort of European that you know would absolutely hate an American BBQ in all its messy deliciousness. That said, even on her own terms, digging deep still doesn't make a photo a unique piece of work, because it still can be reproduced 1000s of times on the Internets. So much pretentious fail in this video. That said, I believe every photo is art.

  63. Ishijah1 February 28, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Inspirational and very moving talk. Art is your own definition of what it is meaningful to you.

  64. UK Night Hunting Vision March 1, 2019 at 8:24 am

    What I gathered from this speech was if you are emotionally damaged and self obsessed then you are likely to make photographic art! Waste of 12 minutes!

  65. MrBluesfly March 9, 2019 at 9:53 am

    whatever bla bla bla

  66. Jen O'Hogan March 17, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    This is the first Ted Talks I got nothing from. Her work is good. But she's a bit arrogant. Art is subjective regardless of format/ medium.

  67. LixLix March 21, 2019 at 10:31 pm

    oh my god.
    so hard to watch. what kind of person goes on stage for a TEDtalk and keeps stylizing her own life in a cheap, overdramatical hollywood C-movie way that much… oh man

  68. FAISAL SM April 21, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    Never answered the question in the title. Underwhelming

  69. Divi Photos April 23, 2019 at 2:05 am

    Cool video nice

  70. Daniel Wyszynski April 29, 2019 at 8:33 pm

    So… Still no answer….

  71. Adolfo Usier May 27, 2019 at 10:59 pm

    love the channel ?

  72. jayaychy remo June 27, 2019 at 4:18 am

    I came here to Learn photography. And I learnt nothing.

  73. Gil Gillis June 27, 2019 at 5:39 am

    I am surprised her head didn't explode with all of her ego packed in it. If you don't feel nauseous at the moment, then don't finish watching this.

  74. Essy Chilcutte July 13, 2019 at 4:12 am

    I have a horrible name it is Bad very very bad that should be considered a crime.

    My last name is cool enough
    The first is a Failure and a betrayal

    It fits me like a Dress on a Horse

    The horse may be Magestic
    And the dress may be enchanting
    But unless you are a Cartoon it can ruin your life.

  75. Joshua Rubin July 25, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    Six minutes in and nothing about photography – unless you define photography as her talking about herself obsessively.

  76. Ella Ella August 2, 2019 at 6:59 am

    Seems like she had been abused as a child, therefore keeps on trying to create an imaginary world she can hide in.

  77. L7057B7 11F19 August 9, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    I think this is the first time a comment section has made me feel better about humanity.

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