Today photography appears more realistic.
Perhaps that is more true than at any time in the history of photography. Yet, today the expression of the artistic element in photography is as alive as the art in say, the history of painting. What is not so clear is just what we mean by “art” in photography.
Much of the modern wave of photography is about snapping the ‘picture’; just capturing what you see and moving on. However, the committed, artistic photographer, sees more in the frame than just the picture. The images we capture show form, shape, expression, balance – lots of intangible things that are not necessarily about just getting the picture and moving on.
Early in the history of photography this very same debate raged. Some saw photography as being “realistic” and therefore not containing artistic elements. Anxious to establish photography as an art form in its own right the Pictorialists worked with the raw elements of the photographic medium, particularly lenses and negatives. They manipulated them to make the picture resemble the hand-made craftiness of paintings and drawings. It was as if taking away the “realistic” look of the final picture and converting it to a facsimile of a hand-drawn picture or a painting turned the picture into an art form.
Perhaps this manipulation did make an art form out of some pictures. However, the basic point was missed by the Pictorialists. The underlying picture still needed an artful arrangement to carry off the translation into a ‘crafty’ final image.
This short video shows the arrival of an alternative school of photographers. The school of “Straight Photography” acknowledged the power of the camera to represent the world with a realism other art forms did not have. At the same time, Straight Photography revealed that through capturing reality you can see through the artists eyes. They went to great pains to retain the element of reality, clarity and sharpness in the pictures. Much of their work would today be recognised as abstract. Their emphasis was on shape, form and expression rather than the every-day and mundane view of the world we see with almost every blink of the eye. They went to great lengths to see things the ordinary picture did not show. They emphasised beauty in simplicity; shape and form in the abstract and a new way of seeing detail through careful framing of everyday objects. They created images that showed the ordinary reality to have an extraordinary interpretation.
Pictorialist and Straight Photography
We would love to have your articles or tips posted on our site.
Find out more…
Write for Photokonnexion.