"It Looks Like A Painting"

Comments I frequently receive on my images.

When I reflect on it, some of the comments I get aren't as offensive as I used to construe them. To be clear, I don't mind when people tell me that they think this image or that one "looks like a painting." Because it's a compliment. Even if it doesn't really say anything about the image itself, its subject, its purpose, its effect.

I needn't remind these art critics that "painterly" may be a better way to describe something which resembles a painting. But I'll never win the Photographer's Diplomacy Award for 2020 of I carried on like that!

Yes. It may look like a painting, it may be painterly, but what of it, is my point.

In their defense, painters particularly from The Renaissance made great use of techniques manipulating the affects of light in their work. Naturally, photographers have been wise to study these masters and incorporate techniques into their work too. Furthermore, it's not out of ignorance that someone may comment on the similarities between a photo and a painting. Because actually, they are commenting on the light; as they've seen it all before in books, magazines, school - virtually anywhere. Great use of light is often a mark of importance in artistic images, be they paintings or photographs.

For photographers, there are usually two options, one of which painters don't have. Either professional may (and in the painter's case, must) create the dynamic elements of light, although the photographer can do this after the fact in Photoshop and other such programs, if that quality of light isn't available in the original image. Simply speaking, if a photographer doesn't capture painterly light, he may create it from scratch, while the painter will always have to create it from scratch.

Case in point

The above image is the out-of-camera shot with only minor edits before Photoshop import. There's nothing especially appealing to me about this shot - I would have trashed it otherwise. But I got to thinking about playing with the light a little bit just because I thought this particular pose would have worked as a painting, making use of different lighting choices, naturally.

Even my final shot (in the header) almost looks too clean to be a "painting". Maybe I could have (and still will!) experimented a bit more with the colors or other techniques to make it look more aged. What I ended up doing after the major edits was to add a paint brush and canvas effect, courtesy of Photoshop. Painterly, indeed.

What I'll now do is share the final image and see whether or not I receive any "it looks like a painting" comments. The problem I have is my audience is so small that I can't always count on comments rolling in, but it will be interesting to see if anyone mentions the painting comparison.

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