Choose Your Weapon

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Enflamed, photograph

“If Velasquez were born today, he would be a photographer and not a painter.”

– George Bernard Shaw

I wonder whether painters from long ago would have chosen different, not-then-available art mediums. It’s curious to contemplate what kind of photographs Rembrandt or Vermeer might have taken had the camera rather than the brush been their chosen instrument. Both were masters of light so I’m sure they would have created rich and compelling work.

It’s interesting to me why more painters do not become better photographers. It’s very common for painters over time to tackle different mediums – watercolor, oil, collage, pastel, etc. Few in my experience become equally interested in the camera. Of course, everyone takes pictures – but I’m talking about practicing fine art photography where the photograph is a work of art in itself. Equally puzzling is why more photographers don’t also take up painting at some point as a way to expand their expressive arsenal.

Perhaps the disciplines are too different. I suppose it’s equally true that not many painters (or photographers) become sculptors, writers, actors, dancers, musicians, etc. For some reason I have found painting and photography to share more in common with each other than with these other artistic mediums. But perhaps to others, picking up the camera feels as foreign to them as would sitting down at a piano or playing Hamlet.

What draws one to choose painting or photography to begin with? Both produce visual images depicting our world. Both allow for a wide range of creativity and expression. Both are considered valid art forms. Have you ever asked yourself this question? Have you ever contemplated getting serious about painting or photography, whichever you don’t do now? If so, why have you chosen to do so or not?