As technology advances, the tools photographers can use to create their visions are more accessible, varied, and intuitive than ever before. I have a feeling this means our definition of photography and our uses for it are going to expand like crazy. It may also mean a photographic renaissance.
Photography has been in a state of growth since its very inception. People have always looked for ways to make a photograph more than a mere representation. Now, we have the ability to use photography in ways our predecessors never could have dreamed of.
I began my photography journey like most people do, taking snapshots of things I was interested in. As my knowledge of photography grew and as I tried more things, I found myself slowly narrowing in focus. I started with events, families, and weddings, but slowly shifted my focus to fashion, beauty, and editorial work, because “capturing memories” wasn’t creatively fulfilling for me. During this time, my retouching technique grew by leaps and bounds, and I started experimenting with digital painting. I also slowly drifted toward more imaginative photography, using props and locations as well as compositing and other techniques to make fantastical imagery. I felt more and more like I was finding my home. But it wasn’t until I recently began combining photography and all the retouching and editing techniques I’ve learned with digital painting that I realized I may have found my niche.
As an image-maker, I’m interested in telling stories, and photography has become one of the tools I use to do that. It gives me the basis for realism that I crave, while the other techniques allow me to impart a sense of fantasy and magic. And the more tools I learn about, the more I’m convinced that photography is changing and expanding, not just in the act, but in application. AI, filters, animation, digital painting: the possibilities for expansive application are endless.
But as this expansion takes place, I think it’s going to create a kind of photographic renaissance where the act of simple photography, of capturing the moment without all the bells and whistles, will see a resurgence. We may see again those masters of the “decisive moment,” as people crave the clear, poignant honesty of a photo simply taken in contrast to all the stimulation.
And I love them both. I love the ability to make something magical. I love the ability to make something transparent. And as I continue to explore what is possible and what suits me as a creative, I’m excited to see what others will do and how photography will evolve. Will we soon see things like book covers that move? Animated family photos? Will digitally painted portraits become mainstream? As film sees a comeback, will there be a trend toward photography that is simpler and less “tampered with”?
Where do you think we are headed as an industry, and do you think it’s a good or a bad thing?