I believe I’ve already related anecdotes about people mistaking my images for paintings. I’ve wrestled with how to classify my work for years now and some time ago I put painterly photography in my email signature.
The other day I had some interesting conversations about how photography is changing, particularly now that image manipulation tools are ubiquitous on smart phones and tablets. In 1994 when I first managed to get my hands on a mac with photoshop version 1 installed and took my first swipe at one of my digitized negatives, it was to massage and abstract the image. And that was it, I was hooked – completely. So much so, I resolved to place my head back in the jaws of the lion and get a decent paying contract job to save money for my dream computer rig – so I could scan and rework my photographs. Ironically the first image I chose to work on in photoshop, was about movement – a smeared image of a cyclist friend riding through the woods.
Only 20 years ago, digital photography was incredibly expensive and mostly the domain of professional commercial photographers. This has changed rapidly since, plus the pace of change has increased rapidly to the point now, where anyone with a smart phone can access apps to adjust their images with increasingly finer control. Some time ago a friend of mine made an interesting observation about how photography changed when cameras moved from waist height range finders to eye height view finders. The photographs people made with view finders were much more personal and intimate.
Our ready access to digital tools like photoshop is changing what we do with photography once again. We are combining mediums like painting, illustration and numerous other disciplines with photography in exciting and interesting ways producing amazing hybrids. This is happening in nearly every field, creative or otherwise, that has moved from analog to digital – music, film – you name it. Having the ability to mediate via some kind of computer, has opened the flood gates of imagination and possibility. Nothing will ever be the same again.