Artist or Photographer?

Racing the Sunset, fine art fantasy image in which a lady in red dress runs through a field of tall grasses away from the sun setting over the distant mountains

Inspired by various recent posts and the ponderings of friends I’ve recently reflected on how to refer to ‘what I am’.  Am I a photographer or an artist?  Do I take photos or create images? When I started taking photographs it was all about recording what was there.  That could be either by capturing a great view or creating a staged image intentionally for the purposes of photographing it. I’d definitely have used the term photographer. Whilst I still do both of these they are no longer the focus for me. I’m much less concerned with depicting reality and much more with the final image.

Photoshop skills help and for many of us these are hard earned.  I can’t tell you the number of times I have and still do wrestle with making something I’m trying to composite appear believable.  I don’t always win either sadly.  However, the number of times I succeed is getting higher, probably often because I learned so many new skills in the failed attempts.

Creativity

Its not just photoshop skills though. My approach has also changed as well as in the past I would never have considered myself to be an artist or even a creative person. I can’t draw or paint, heck I failed art! However, over time and inspired by many other peoples’ work I’ve branched out and become more experimental.  Perhaps I just wasn’t brave enough until now, after all ‘creativity takes courage’ as Matisse said.

My attitude to colour is changing too. Not only do I not feel constrained to stick with the colours that were there I no longer stick even to what was possible.  The sole determiner now is what looks good to me when I’m editing.  Moving away from reality and being much more experimental with colour grading has been really interesting. There are lots of great actions and tools out there that can make it really fun and easy to play with colour. Some of my personal favourites are fine art actions and the infinite colour panel.

Blending the ingredients together

Whilst I still am a photographer I now think of photographs more as raw materials for a production process or the ingredients that go into a meal.  Photoshop is where I process or blend these together, developing them to make the finished product. I’m not averse to adding in plenty of herbs and spices to really add some zing to the flavour and appearance either.

So if I had to pick a label today?  Well then I think I am an artist because I’m increasingly an image creator rather than an image recorder, after all why let reality unnecessarily get in the way? However, perhaps its more appropriate that the viewer should judge my images and decide for themselves.

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