I was reading the reprint of an article written by Ansel Adams in 1934 speaking of the historical trends of photography from Pictorialism through Experimentation and finally into Straight Photography. Adams believed that this last phase was a renaissance of photography where artists were taking it back to its origins.
Adams was one of many photographers who believed that the Pictorialist movement was bad for photography as it took the art form from something clean and honest into a more painterly approach. The movement was based on photographers using the original picture as a basis for their art work. They would then use darkroom techniques, pencils, paint brushes and the like to alter the image in an attempt to prove it as art.
I am well aware of the arguments of the "Straight Photography" movement and can appreciate the fervor of its supporters however I cant help but believe that through the digital workflow, we are entering a second Pictorialist movement. One which uses Photoshop or other such programs to completely alter the original photograph.
I am not talking about cropping, adjusting the shadows or removing some sensor dust, I am speaking about a complete alteration of the photograph. If history does repeat itself then perhaps we will see a renaissance of "Straight Photography" one day...
Irrespective of your personal view on the validity of the Pictorialist movement to photography, or the belief that we are seeing history repeat itself, one thing I believe we can agree on is that it is a wonderful time to pick up a camera. Today we have a choice of digital, film or some ad-hoc mixture of the two.
With that random thought aside, let me wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. May you spend it with loved ones and in appreciation of all that we have. I was given a treasure trove of photography books which will take me the better part of 2017 to read!
Patrick...confirmed film & digital photography addict.