“Never have I found the limits of the photographic potential. Every horizon, upon being reached, reveals another beckoning in the distance. Always, I am on the threshold.” –W. Eugene Smith
Invention of the Camera
Long before digital photography, the invention of the camera liberated painting from its reportage role. Gone was the need to produce a likeness or detail the events of the story; painting was free to express emotions. It’s true that painting contained an emotional context, but now painting can experiment, and through imaginative interpretation allow the emotional content to predominate. Freed from prior constraints, the painter was able to create a new language and explore the motivations of their art. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries painters from impressionists and cubists to expressionists and minimalists could use color, line and form to go straight to the emotional expression of their work.
The introduction of digital photography has given this freedom to photographers. The range of tools to fix and enhance the camera’s capture when pushed to its extremes produces a range of fascinating effects. Improved pictures that no longer resemble the original photograph are produced with software and photo filters. As photographers explore these tools and incorporate them into their work photography as a medium of emotional expression will continue to grow. Now with the digital photography’s ever-growing range of tools the only limitation is the photographer’s imagination.
Digital Photography and the Photoshop Era
With the use of technique and software tools, the skilled photographic artist can capture the lyrical beauty of a baroque symphony with a simple tree or create an image that portrays the feeling of urban life using a photograph of a building. Even the light captured by the camera can be fine-tuned into an element of emotion not normally seen or felt by viewing with the naked eye.
Photographers have become liberated like the painters before them by technology. Now photographs can explore the full range of human experience including those they have no words to express. Larger statements are accessible to the photographer not only in physical terms. Like their painter counterparts, through the addition of technology, this larger canvas is becoming the order of the day. The fact that this canvas can express feelings rather than just illustrate them denotes that photography has become a genre all its own in the arts.