A Parallel Between Painting and Photography

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CharlesB58 Veteran Member • Posts: 8,974
A Parallel Between Painting and Photography

I was talking with one of the directors of the arts organization I shoot for about the quality of photography and art. He's been an artist longer than I've been alive (over 60 years) and has rubbed shoulders with a lot of creative people, especially in New York City during the 60s and 70s. So he not only has some strong opinions, but they are based on some solid experience.

He was bemoaning the fact that there are so many photographers in our city who don't have studios: they do strictly on location portrait work. He feels that photographers are just copying each other and losing out on the opportunity to do something more original than what is selling on Craigslist right now.

He said the same sort of thing happens with artists, where they just paint variations on what they see other artists do and don't really try to explore their own paths of creativity.

I mentioned how one aspect of photography is that current tech makes it so easy for people to produce technically solid photos that people get impressed by the technical quality and don't recognize when something is aesthetically flawed, uninspired or even banal. People admire photos as examples of technique for the sake of technique.

This brought up "Photorealistic" drawing and painting.

There's a school of thought that Photorealistic artwork is mostly a waste of time for viewers (though it can be very fulfilling for the artist) because while the work may be technically excellent, it doesn't inspire or evoke anything beyond admiration for the technical skill of the artist.

I thought it both through provoking, and not a little ironic, that a painter would work so hard to make his/her work look like a photograph, and yet end up falling into the same "technique for technique's sake" pitfall that photographers fall into. To me that is sort of a double-whammy of failing to utilize technique to its fullest by not only demonstrating technical excellence, but aesthetic inspiration as well.


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Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed. Quote by Garry Winogrand

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