A camera is just a tool?
When I first came up with the idea of starting a web site selling Art Supplies, one of the main concerns was not specifically about the business, it was the effect the business would have on my interest in painting and art.
I was thinking “would I come home from work and feel painting was just more work?”
To some extent this has been the case and now I tend to paint at weekends and the rare holiday time I get. I found the creative urges were lowest at the end of a long day talking art, thinking art, motivating artists, answering questions about art and so on. I needed to break the cycle somehow. But I still love painting and certainly did not want to abandon it.
Then one day I was looking for inspiration near my home at that time around inner Brisbane and found a lovely little park where a babbling brook was nestling up against a grove of deciduous trees that were just turning to the autumn colours so rare around sub-tropical Brisbane. My thought was “Where is a camera when I need one?” I wanted to capture the moment but as usual did not carry my camera everywhere; it was a big bulky (in those days) Single Lens Reflect NIKON. Mobile phone cameras were not up to it in those days.
The proverbial light globe lit up in my head! Photography is removed from art but still part of it. Cameras are just another tool to be used to gather inspiration. Although there were ample images around various photo sharing web sites I also needed to have that break I was seeking, but without abandoning my art. Photography was that break, yet it would still help me keep my links to painting in the long run.
So began my love affair with photography. It has provided countless images and memories I can use when seeking inspiration for my artwork. It is something that can be done almost any time and in short sessions. Art and painting is something I tend to use up many hours in a session, but some photography sessions are just a few minutes.
OK! Some photography takes significant investment in preparation, for example travel time if a location is planned, and it is easy to get carried away with the technology if you let it get to you.
But it can easily be achieved by any good quality point and shoot camera. There is no need to go for a top of the line DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflect), heaps of accessories (Flash, Reflectors, tripod etc.) if you are just after inspirational shots to get you painting.
I admit I have collected a range of accessories over the years, but still only use a prosumer camera (That’s a term used to describe any camera that is not a professional Canon or Nikon used by professional full time photographers). I have found most digital cameras these days will give images never dreamed of in the film days, photos cost nothing, can get instant viewable results and rarely have to lose the moment like in the old Film days. You don’t need a slide projector, a photo album or framed prints (But they are nice)
I remember in 1969 I went on a lifetime trip around the outback up from Adelaide through the Flinders Range to Ayers Rock as it was known in those days, onto the Alice and up all the way to Darwin. I was using a trusty Nikon single lens reflect film camera. It had been reliable for some years and I was not thinking about any possible failures. With film, it invariably needs to be processed, either in your home studio, or at a professional lab, that required the film to be posted and returned unless you could find a same day service. Back in those days they did not exist anywhere along the route we were taking. So I would dutifully post away my film (Colour Slides in those days) with a return address back to my Sydney home as I was still travelling and could not guarantee where we would be to pick it up.
About two thirds through the trip, I was lucky enough to find a photographer who offered to process a roll of film for me on the day. Imagine my feeling when the film came back with nothing on it. My trusty Nikon shutter was failing, making the right noises etc. but every shot was underexposed and useless. I still remember this disappointment from time to time.
Digital Cameras are a quantum leap from the old film in quality of images, ease of use, operating cost, purchase price for what you get and instant gratification.
So I now take a good (but small, light, easy to use quickly) point and shoot camera I take everywhere I go to make sure my painting inspiration is continually fed new fodder for the mind. Although a good mobile phone can get reasonable images too in some cases.
Photography is one easy way to get inspiration and material to paint and I find it is just removed far enough from painting to give me the week day break without moving me away from my art.
Remember, Photography is also an art.
YES, I also have an expensive Semi-professional PENTAX single lens reflex camera and a High Definition PANASONIC video camcorder that I use for more serious photography. I have included a few images scattered through this article of my more recent images. These are not from my professional portfolio (I do produce Product photos on a commission basis from time to time). The examples linked are not professional quality but they are helpful in retaining my memories of past living, giving me a relaxing pastime to unwind at the end of the day rather than just vegetating in front of a TV or Computer and I enjoy it. Photography has developed into a very rewarding hobby for me without lessening the desire to paint.