Photography – a mirror of reality?

Photography arised to be a documentation of reality. Before this time there were artists who got the honorable mission to paint and draw the documentation of life as it is. They got assignments to paint portraits of family members, prominent persons from public life or stories from history like war or the pest. However, there were painters who put their scaffold into the nature and found a cut-out, for example a mountain, and painted what they saw with their eyes or what and how they wished to paint.Franz Marc Blaues Pferd

Now it begins to be interesting. Painters are able to “manipulate” reality if they wish to do so. They can put in or move away persons and objects, change colors and forms. When painters startet to do this, there were a lot of criticism and irritation. To see for example blue horses in a landscape with geometrical forms were strange and not accepted.

Artists who had the same intention to find new ways to express themselves started groups, one of them “Der blaue Reiter” (1911). Today prints of those painters are decorating walls in many private houses and museums all over the world.

As todays digital photographer we can work in the same way. We can use photoshop or other computer programs or we can manipulate by using the camera in a creative way. But to manipulate photographs is not accepted in the same way as manipulating paintings is today. Photography should be a mirror of reality. Indeed, should it?

To examples:

Photodocumentary is used to document the public life, politics, parts of our society or the life of one person. The demand is to copy reality, to show the truth. The photographer is not allowed to manipulate a picture, to put in or move away persons or objects. However, any photographer is an individual with his own background and thoughts. He chooses a cut-out, perspective and lighting. He changes the contrast and saturation to emphasize the expression of a picture. Nobody has an identical view on the reality. Everybody who takes pictures has the experience that different persons can take very different pictures of one and the same situation. For example, when you are going on a trip with a photographer friend will you come back with widely unlike pictures. Whatever kind of lenses or camera you have it will always be the part of the landscape you see and find interesting. In a way it will be “your” landscape. The landscape as you see it. Or want to see it – when you avoid disturbing things, and focus on what you find most important and nice.

Photoart: With your camera you can take pictures which apparently show for example a landscape as it is, or very close to it. However, you can do like the impressionists, expressionists and surrealists were doing. If you change the reality by changing colors, forms and lights you can get expressions that you really wish.

Like surrealists Salvador Dali or Rene Margrite we can put together objects that obviously do not fit together. Today we can use a computer program to do postprocessing or just the functionalities of our camera to manipulate a picture in the way we want it to be.

In former times when photographers worked in the darkroom it was a nearly ecstatic feeling to use the hands to manipulate the image in the copying process. Ansel Adams was a really master to do this. However, he used all his cameras options as well to create the image he wished to get.

Today´s digital cameras have countless options. It is easy to take good pictures and with a little bit reading and exercise you can find out how to take even better and sharper pictures. What if we break the rules? If we move the camera while taking shoots and take blurred pictures intentionally? Is it wrong or will such photography be accepted as photoart?

Maybe the digital photoworld will give more people the chance and freedom to create images that communicate at an emotional level, like impressionists and expressionists did?








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