Peter Curley – Canadian Canoe Museum
IS PHOTOGRAPHY AN ART FORM?
This is one of the most provocative questions that has plagued photographers and the art world for a long time. A photograph captures a moment in time in its actuality, where as something like a painting or drawing, however accurate, is essentially a rendering of whatever the artist chooses to see. If I put myself in the shoes of a traditional artist and envision a scene in front of me I am free to decide what elements I include or exclude on the canvas. If there are elements that I deem not conducive to the overall effect I will simply leave them off the canvas or add another element as I see fit. As a photographer I do not have this luxury. Once I determine the outer borders for my frame I must include everything that is in that frame, for better or worse. As a journalist this produces a true full representation of the all elements that are in front of me and that I will then show to my viewers, but as an artist I have the option to decide what elements I wish to manipulate. So how does this differ from a traditional artist? Many people in the art world have been battling with this question for ages. In the days of film and before, images were very difficult to manipulate in any great scale but in the digital age it seems anything is possible.
Because my background was built on studio portraits and wedding photography I never really had to think about this issue. For years I have been shooting landscapes, nightscapes, waterscapes etc. and provided faithful representations of each. Lately, my creative side has been trying to free itself from the confines of many years. Over the years I have found many programs that will emulate a traditional art form, some good, some rather cheesy. While the effects might look OK on some level, this is not what I would consider to be real art, but more a plagiaristic style of art. A photographer uses light as his paintbrush and to that end I have expanded my horizons to incorporate the manipulation of light at its basic level.
I have taken a well-rounded collection of my favorite photographs taken over the years and manipulated the spectral highlights to present a more ethereal mood to this presentation. I realize some people will have vastly different viewpoints on this, some positive, some negative, but my ultimate goal is to have the doors of communication opened for all to voice their opinion. I look forward to hearing all your comments.