The Relationship Between Photography and Painting.
This pencil drawing is from a sketchbook by Fox Talbot. It depicts an Italian view with Monte Cressone in the distance and the balustrade of Villa Melzi in the foreground. William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) was an English physicist and pioneer of photography. In 1839 he announced his invention of ‘photogenic drawing’ in the same year as the invention of the daguerrotype by Louis Daguerre (1789-1851). The sketch was drawn, using a camera lucida, during his honeymoon in Italy. His dissatisfaction with images such as this urged him to pursue his photographic experiments.
Talbot conceived and brought about a wholly new way of making pictures, perfected the optical and chemical aspects of photography, and learned to use the new medium to make complex images for the botanist, historian, traveler, and artist.
The invention of photography could allow anybody to record the world in detail that has revolutionised the way we see ourselves, how we communicate and more importantly how we make art ( Can photography be art? will be highlighted in detail below). Without photography modern art, film, and the internet may not exist or not as we know it now.
Can a photograph be as good as art? This video explains multiple views on how photography can be and isn’t as good as art. Personally, I can understand both points of view but I see photography as art because we can all be given the same subject and same equipment but the outcome could be completely different from the next all because of our choices. But this question may never be answered with everyone having access to the equipment needed to take a photograph.
‘Photography isn’t looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.’ Don McCullin
Simulacra and Simulation
Simulation is the imitation of the operation of a real-world process or system over time. The act of simulating something first requires that a model be developed; this model represents the key characteristics or behaviours/functions of the selected physical or abstract system or process. The model represents the system itself, whereas the simulation represents the operation of the system over time. Simulation is used in many contexts, such as simulation of technology for performance optimisation, safety engineering, testing, training, education, and video games. Often, computer experiments are used to study simulation models. Simulation is also used with scientific modelling of natural systems or human systems to gain insight into their functioning. Simulation can be used to show the eventual real effects of alternative conditions and courses of action. Simulation is also used when the real system cannot be engaged, because it may not be accessible, or it may be dangerous or unacceptable to engage, or it is being designed but not yet built, or it may simply not exist. Key issues in simulation include acquisition of valid source information about the relevant selection of key characteristics and behaviours, the use of simplifying approximations and assumptions within the simulation, and fidelity and validity of the simulation outcomes.
portrait (ˈpɔːtrɪt ; -treɪt)
- a painting, drawing, sculpture, photograph, or other likeness of an individual, esp of the face
- (as modifier) ⇒
a portrait gallery
- a verbal description or picture, esp of a person’s character
Portraiture is a very old art form going back at least to ancient Egypt, where it flourished from about 5,000 years ago. Before the invention of photography, a painted, sculpted, or drawn portrait was the only way to record the appearance of someone.But portraits have always been more than just a record. They have been used to show the power, importance, virtue, beauty, wealth, taste, learning or other qualities of the sitter. Portraits have almost always been flattering, and painters who refused to flatter, such as William Hogarth, tended to find their work rejected. A notable exception was Francisco Goya in his apparently bluntly truthful portraits of the Spanish royal family. Artists’ self-portraits are an interesting sub-group of portraiture and can often be highly self-revelatory. Those of Rembrandt are particularly famous.Among leading modern artists portrait painting on commission, that is to order, became increasingly rare. Instead artists painted their friends and lovers in whatever way they pleased. Most of Picasso’s pictures of women, for example, however bizarre, can be identified as portraits of his lovers. At the same time, photography became the most important medium of traditional portraiture, bringing what was formerly an expensive luxury product affordable for almost everyone. Since the 1990s artists have also used video to create living portraits. But portrait painting continues to flourish.
“From today painting is dead” Paul Delaroche on seeing a Daguerreotype in 1839
Why are photographs rectangle? Images from the camera are formed circular due to the lens shape: Film cameras work by taking in and focusing light onto film. A “negative” is formed on the film when it is exposed to light and developed. The negative can then be used to create a photograph. The area of the film exposed is rectangular, so the image is rectangular. But why would photographers prefer rectangular images? It is a matter of real estate. If you think about fitting the picture negatives on a roll of film you can fit rectangles with less wasted space than circles, so the amount of film needed to store the negative of a rectangular image is less than the amount that would be needed to store a circular image. In digital cameras today, the light coming into the camera is usually captured and turned into electrical signals. The camera can then turn those electrical signals into the image. The device that takes in light and makes electrical signals is called a CCD (charge-coupled device). The CCD is in the shape of a rectangle, so the resulting image ends up being a rectangle (and the incoming light outside the rectangle is not captured). It is just the way they are made. Although when the camera became popular it was common to print your photographs square to fit in with art and would be framed in a similar way.
How does the sitter effect the image? The sitter, being the focus of the image has the most effect on the finished image. From the way the sitter is feeling, emotionally, physically and mentally will effect how they portray themselves to others which will effect the images. For example, if someone is uncomfortable in their clothes they will find they’re face and shrink into their body. But if the sitter feels comfortable in the chair and is well rested and relaxed, they will show it within their facial expression and posture. It is important to make sure the sitter is feeling how they want to be portrayed.
How does the photographer effect the image? The photographer shares a lot of responsibility with the sitter because they can make the sitter look entirely different from how they would like to be portrayed with the use of lighting and camera angles. But also how the photographer treats the sitter. There are many factors to take into consideration and the situation needs to be handled carefully because the photographer could ruin the image with one move.
Research Albrecht Dürer – 1471-1528 – Dürer exerted a huge influence on the artists of succeeding generations, especially in printmaking, the medium through which his contemporaries mostly experienced his art, as his paintings were predominately in private collections located in only a few cities. His success in spreading his reputation across Europe through prints was undoubtedly an inspiration for major artists such as Raphael, Titian, and Parmigianino, all of whom collaborated with printmakers in order to promote and distribute their work. Rembrandt Van Rijin – 1606-1669 – Throughout his career Rembrandt took as his primary subjects the themes of portraiture, landscape and narrative painting. For the last, he was especially praised by his contemporaries, who extolled him as a masterly interpreter of biblical stories for his skill in representing emotions and attention to detail. Stylistically, his paintings progressed from the early “smooth” manner, characterized by fine technique in the portrayal of illusionistic form, to the late “rough” treatment of richly variegated paint surfaces, which allowed for an illusionism of form suggested by the tactile quality of the paint itself. Mary Beale – 1633-1699 – She was one of the most important portrait painters of 17th century England and has been described as the first professional female English painter. Beale was also celebrated for her poetical talents; versions of her psalms are included in A Paraphrase upon the Psalms of David (1667) by Dr. Samuel Woodford. Beale was born in Suffolk in 1632, daughter of John Cradock, a Puritan clergyman and amateur painter. Beale painted in oil, water-color and crayons in the Italian style of which she learned by copying paintings and drawings borrowed from Sir Peter Lely and the royal collections. She became a semi-professional portrait painter in the 1650s and 60s. In 1670, she established a studio in Pall Mall, with her husband, Charles Beale, working as her assistant who mixed her paints and kept her accounts. Beale painted the portraits of eminent clergymen, including John Tillotson and Edward Stillingfleet, charging five pounds for a head and ten pounds for a half-length in oil, which was her most common method of painting. She also painted members of the gentry and of society including Edward Hyde, and Aphra Behn.
Genres of portrait
Traditional Portraiture – Traditional or Classical portraiture would refer to an image where face is the predominant element. The purpose of the photograph is to depict visual representation of that person. Subject is expected to be looking directly at the camera. With what is described as a head-shot, two thirds or full body framing can be used Environmental Portrait – The term Environmental Portrait refers to an image where the subject is photographed in person’s natural environment. For example, a worker photographed at the construction zone, teacher in the classroom, sculptor in a sculpture studio and so on. Surroundings are used to compliment the subject and to emphasise his character. Subject and setting are chosen by the photographer. Candid Portrait – A candid portrait is taken without a subject expecting or acknowledging the photographer. This style used in photo journalism, travel photography, street photography and event photography. As opposed to an environmental portrait this image is captured at the moment rather than set up. Glamour Portrait – The term Glamor Portrait refers to portraits where emphasis is given to highlight the sexy romantic appeal of the subject, this would usually be used for advertising beauty products. Lifestyle Portrait – The term Lifestyle Portrait refers to portraits where emphasis is given to suggest the “style of living” of the individuals depicted. Technically it is a combination of environmental portrait and candid portrait. More weight is given to communicate the feeling of life experience of the subject. Style has numerous implications in commercial and fine art photography. Editorial, fashion, pharmaceutical, and food industries often use lifestyle images to evoke emotions in viewers by depiction of desired life styles. It is common to see this style used in wedding and family portrait photography as well. Surreal Portrait – Surreal Portraits are created to emphasise the other reality. A depiction of a person’s interpreted subconscious mind. Surrealism is an art movement started in the early 1920‘s and still alive and well. In photography tricks and special effects are used to achieve a surreal look. Conceptual Portrait – Conceptual Portrait refers to images where concept adds a fourth dimension. The hidden meaning of the concept will leave the viewer guessing as it is often open for interpretation. Conceptual artists generally get offended when asked what did they mean in their photograph. It is the job of the viewer to decide. Conceptual Portraits are often used in advertising photography but concepts are much easier to understand. Abstract Portrait- with a purpose of creating art and not having it based on reality, commonly presented as a collage or digital manipulation
Sitter + Artist
The delicate psychological engagement between the portrait artist and the sitter was one that was potentially overcome by the invention of photography, which separated the gaze of the artist from the body of the sitter by the bulky apparatus. The social and psychological encounters between artist and sitter that eventually become a portrait point to another factor that makes portraiture different from other art forms. Most portraiture represents a particular occasion or moment, whether directly or by implication. Unlike a landscape painting or a history painting, which may seem to transcend a single moment in time, the presence of a specific individual in a portrait reminds us of the encounter between the artist and sitter. This special aspect of portraiture has been explained using C. S. Peirce’s semiotic theory of the icon, the index, and the symbol. According to Peirce, an icon looks like the thing it represents; an index draws attention to something outside the representation; and a symbol is a seemingly arbitrary sign that is, by cultural convention, connected to a particular object.
Verbal + physically manipulating
There are many ways in which you as the artist can manipulate your sitter. Verbally, by asking them questions, personal or general questions just something to get them talking and thinking about. You can gain a reaction from asking in depth questions the more you find out about somebody, each question brings down a wall to bring you to the sitters true self. Physically manipulation can range from moving them posture to changing the way the light bounces off their skins, all these factors can change the outcome of a portrait.
“His fashion and portrait photographs helped define America’s image of style, beauty and culture for the last half-century” The Times
I have been inspired by by Avedon, with his clean background and the focus the viewer has on all the characteristics of the sitter. His work brings out detail which I wouldn’t notice in real time. The images above are part of his collection which he did not finish which consists of 69 images of people in power, the collection was called ‘ Portraits of Power’.
I have a few ideas up my sleeve… Richard Avedon and power set up comes to mind.
How it went. I believe the shoot went well with the who’s-who board, I achieved a large amount of portraits and each one is different, no two sitters look the same. I made sure I stuck to my plan, and avoided eye contact and verbal contact till I had my Richard Avedon style shots.
“There are only two styles of portrait painting; the serious and the smirk.” Charles Dickens
Here is a small selection of my favourite images. I have edited them to complement the image, I have done the majority in the style of Richard Avedon with the high contrast black and white and the intrusive body language given by my subjects. I am pleased with these images, I believe I captured the real person from within, from worried faces to plastered on smiles, I feel closer and understand the subjects more. I believe and hope I have captured the true character within each subject.
The final images I have selected, show the range of different portraits and character shots I achieved out of this project. Overall I am overwhelmed with how well the shoots went and like my take on Avedon’s work. If I could have changed anything, I would have branched out further and photographed another selection of people, similar to a work place, and expand on individuals. During this project I have learnt a lot about how many things can effect and change an image, I learnt this first hand with how I spoke and interacted with the subject would effect the outcome of the image.