Photographers Are Now In Control Of Their Art Form



Technology Exists to Serve Mankind, Yet Some Still Believe Otherwise. 

Yes, some still  grovel at the altar of technology . . . they don’t get it. I fear they will see the light too late, or never.  The “creative express” is now available for boarding, but they’ll miss it. But those who board this train, those who responded and moved with the times, have an opportunity never before available...creative freedom.  

Those who’ve missed the train and those who never believed there even was a train, cry, “It’s not photography anyway.”  Well, their last words, before being cast into creative oblivion, may have a small shred of truth.  It’s not photography in the traditional sense, but art moves on, as it always has over the centuries. So maybe we shouldn’t call it photography.  Maybe it should have another name.  A colleague, Geo Perdis (geoperdis@mediaworks.ca), mediamaker and futurist who was probably first on the creative express, has coined the term “New Photography.”  Yes, it is new photography, not old photography.

Van Gogh, like many of the old masters, could render a scene, not as it appeared in reality, but as it was perceived in their mind’s eye (their utopian vision if you will).  If a tree existed in the landscape and the master didn’t like it there, he/she would simply not paint it in or maybe move it to another more balanced position.  Do you honestly think Van Gogh’s colours or his skies actually looked the way he painted them?  Even the Old Masters of the realist school painted realistically . . . according to their imagination.   

Well, now we can also do what the Old Masters did...move things around, modify the colour, retouch out an object or blemish . . . if it will improve the end result, that is, what we see in our mind’s eye.

I’ve been involved in photographic colour reproduction for over 35 years, having worked as a technical rep for one of at New York City’s most prestigious colour labs, Robert Crandall Associates.  Way back then, the only way to colour correct and ‘fix’ any image was to make a duplicate 8” x 10” transparency or a dye transfer print and then retouch and do local colour adjustments (with dyes on transparency or airbrush on a print).   After all this, this ‘interim medium’ would be re-photographed on negative film...and then finally printed.  And even with these lengthly steps, a true high-quality salon print would hinge on the skill of the darkroom technician for local burning and dodging, the state of chemical processing, the pH of the water wash and  a whole lot of luck.  Yes, a tree could be moved or a blemish removed, but at a high price of dollars and serious technical know-how.  

Those like Jerry Uelsmann and Pete Turner worked under those constraints. They paid large lab fees or laboured hours and even days in the darkroom in order to realize their mind’s eye images. Uelsmann and Turner were (and still are) regarded as “creative photographers,” yet today some of us who dance to those same creative needs are called “not photographers.”    

OK, call us not photographers . . .call us New Photographers.  We’re  having our cake and indeed enjoying it.  So, let’s all go forth and create reality if we choose (photojournalism, street photography, candid photography) but also go forth and celebrate our freedom. Freedom to write visual poetry with our cameras, new visual harmonies and music with our cameras, new visual art with our cameras.  

Celebrate at the alter of New Photography.

 

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