Digital photography is an amazingly useful tool for the traditional artist and a wonderful art form in its own right. The digital camera has helped me closely study potential subjects and frame and test compositions from daily life in a fast and affordable form. While photographs do not replace the work and need for sketches and color studies, they are an invaluable supplement these traditional exercises in developing the finished image.
My development as a photographer has strengthened my painting skills, and my development as a painter has deepened my appreciation of the photograph as a unique platform of artistic expression.
Photography has allowed me to explore the nature and needs of the image itself, apart from the process of image creation. While the techniques and options of digital photography are complex (I know only enough of non-digital photography to have a great respect for the unique skills and expertise required for that field), I can capture and review images with wonderful speed. This allows me to experiment freely and quickly with a variety of compositions and light conditions. I can frame and examine a subject so closely as to make it an abstract form.
I can explore points of view that are impractical from a drawing vantage point. The camera lens provides me with practice in framing and editing the mass of visual information into the concise image that fits my intentions.
Photography has also taught me to appreciate the complexity of vision, the richness of what our eyes see as opposed to the limits of the camera and additional limits of the printing process. It has also demonstrated, on an additional level, the unique vision of the individual. I have been in numerous situations with other artists working on an identical subject with the same materials, and always the results were beautiful and richly unique. The same is true in photography. Each individual applies a slightly different angle, focus, framing, etc., even when photographing the same subject with similar equipment at the same time. Some will close in on a wonderful, intimate detail, others will pull back for the subject’s place in larger surroundings, others might capture the subject in a unique but passing moment, and the possibilities go on. Some have the gift of telling a story in a single frame while others show us a gift of beauty within the mundane. I have found that sometimes an image is best conveyed through the photograph.