Robert Stewart, “Establishing Order”

Photograph
Signature Lower Right
Edition 1/30 Lower Left
Dimensions: 18″ x 34″ Framed
Style: Surrealism

When the new technology of photography burst upon the world, in the late 1800’s, it changed the way people saw the world forever. It also, in a short time, put a lot of portrait and landscape painters out of business. On the other hand, it released painters from the demands of painting only what their eyes could see. They could now abstract. They could paint, not just was there, but how they saw it in their own unique way and at the same time, capture how they felt about the subject. Abstract painting did not arrive until after the invention of photography.

This new photo technology, was viewed by most art critics at the time, as little more than a mechanical /chemical process. It bore little resemblance to “real” art. Through the efforts of a handful of photographers, it blossomed into a valid art form. This process took many years for most critics to recognize photography as a valid art form. (Some continue to argue that it still is a stepchild in the art world).

We are now in the midst of another profound shift in the technology of art. It is computers, it is digital and it has freed the photographer (and other art forms) from the chains of reality. Photographers no longer have to accept that one click of the shutter results in just one picture. Digital photo artists can now combine many images to express themselves. They can color them, alter them, layer them and draw on them to create a completely new image. Photographers can now enjoy the visual license that painters enjoyed for over 100 years.

Consider the similarities between painting and digital compositions. They both start with a blank “canvas” and add elements until the picture is done. This is an additive process. Traditional photography, on the other hand is a subtractive process. The photographer has to “eliminate” the distracting elements in the camera’s viewfinder to isolate and enhance his subject.

While I still enjoy the traditional forms of photography, I have been enamored by the possibilities of digital compositions. I enjoy the painterly control of digital work and will continue to explore the new frontiers of digital imaging.