Photos and Realism

Perhaps the reason that I love photography so much is its inherent realism. Unlike a painting or a sculpture, photography isn’t exactly imitation in the same respect; every photograph from your senior portrait to outlandish abstractions was created when the camera captured what was in front of it, although this is not to devalue the worth of other fine arts. The idea that a camera creates art from life, pretty directly, is pretty cool to me honestly. I’m sure I’ve probably mentioned it in at least one or two of my posts before, and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if it were more, but Lazlo Moholy Nagy‘s idea of the camera as the “new eye” is something that has really stuck with me since I first read of it. The remarkableness of the concept, to me, was epitomized by its accuracy. What he meant by that, or at least how I interpreted it, was that the camera was a tool that could be used to see the world in a dramatically different way, and although a good portion of my work isn’t quite as conceptual, it’s still something that’s embedded in the back of my mind any time I’m holding a camera, and even though he was likely speaking with abstraction in mind, I feel as if it’s something you could apply to any setting. Yes, this idea is suitably exemplified by styles like light painting, extreme close ups, and panning shots, things the eye more apparently cannot perceive in the same way a camera could, but it is also as equally demonstrated in the way a photograph portrays a shadow falling across a window sill on a sunny day. The eye can detect the varying intensities of light and compensate fairly well, where a camera inherently cannot creating boundaries where they didn’t previously exist and a more sharply defined separation between the light and the dark. An instance like this also demonstrates that even though photos are fairly real, they are also just as fake.

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