Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Can Photography overlap with Painting as an Art-form?

Is photography art? This is an interesting question. For many people, the answer would be in the negative (no pun intended). I have spoken to people who have looked at me aghast when I have referred to photography as an art-form. Perhaps the difficuly is similar to deciding what is, and isn't, poetry. Or art itself. Or whether something is worth doing.
Photography is 'Painting with light'. We let an image made of light into our camera and capture it. It may be a 'snapshot', taken quite quickly with little consideration for composition or exposure, colour saturation or contrast, or many other things. It is simply a record of a moment. Another photographer, or maybe even the same one at another time, might spend time deliberating a landscape; deciding the best time of day to visit; the best season; the best viewpoint to capture the image from; what focal length lens to use; colour or black and white; and pre-visualise the possible results. Then wait. Perhaps many hours, maybe making return visits. Until everything comes right, until a worthwhile image emerges, a few captured moments. Is this art? Many people might argue that all photography is is a record of a moment in time. It is that, of course. Isn't all visual art (and I include sculpture here) an image frozen in time? Are photographs capable of being regarded as visual art? To decide this we may have to go back to the definition of art.
Over the past few years, after studying art and becoming interested in abstract expressionist painting, particularly Jackson Pollack images, I began to take photographic images like those above, and realised I was executing a form of abstract expressionism through the medium of photography. I have continued to be drawn to making these two-dimensional images through the medium of photography, and enjoy immense creative satisfaction from making them. I can only explain it as satisfying my artistic urges from what I learned from what have been traditionally, painted' images, and applying that knowledge to photography.
Is photography art when the intention is to create an aesthetic image as opposed to a scientific, journalistic, or snapshot image? We may be getting closer. And we seem to be leaning more toward the feeling that, yes, photography is an art form and can overlap with painting.
(To be continued)

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