When is a Photograph a Painting?

Photographers use many tools that help them achieve the results they search for. These start with the lens filter, the choice of lens, in-camera software, and finally, the application of a range of darkroom techniques which may include more sophisticated software.

For all these techniques, are photos ever transformed into paintings? Or perhaps I should ask the question directly: are photographs ever transformed into art?

Take a look at my work Is This A Painting?:

Is this a painting?

Consider whether I have chosen to use techniques in this painting so that the viewer is encouraged to ask questions about the representation of reality, or whether the medium or treatment matters as much as the aesthetics of a work. Cast your gaze once again at the archway above. Are those brush marks? Is the position and scale of the different visual elements of the composition too self conscious to be an actual building? Is there colour in this work?

How does the knowledge that this is a photograph transform your view of it? How does the doubt that this is a photograph tickle your curiosity?

Many photographers use digital tools that transform their photographic images, either automatically with software that processes the image with a range of algorithms that seek to reflect real-world techniques like watercolour and pastel, or to deliver more manual subtle effects like aberation correction, soft focus and glow. Some of these techniques might be considered "photographic" (for example, a noise filter that apes the texture that real-world film stock gives), and others, "artistic" (for example, an effect that has a visual association with a palate knife).

My view is that the medium is of less significance than the viewer.

Artistic works, whether they be music, paintings, literature, sculpture, film, or dance, none have life without the person who brings their existence close to experience them. It is you who considers it, are enriched, inspired, or affected by it.

When is a Photograph a Painting? When you choose it to be...

Mike de Sousa
Artist/Photographer

EyeInvent

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