Post #1 in which the photographer defends what he does for a living...

Tim Nighswander/IMAGING4ART
Jan 17, 2013 9:07PM

It is a simple truth that many more people will 'experience' any single work of art, or art in general, through photography as opposed to seeing it in person. For the millions of people who have stood in front of Leonardo's Mona Lisa, Picasso's Guernica or Van Gogh's Postman countless millions more know the works through photographs they have seen in books, posters and, increasingly, on-line. For those lucky enough to be able to travel and see these works in person (whether it is the masterworks at a great museum or the gallery opening of a new artist) the time the public gets to spend in front of them is extremely limited before they are moved along by the crowds of others waiting for the same opportunity. The only alternative to help 'hold' the memory of the viewing experience in our minds and/or to give ourselves time to study and live with work we can't outright own is to buy books, posters, post cards, fine art reproductions or visit sites like Artsy. And that requires photography.  

As a photographer whose career focus is photographing works of art I feel a great deal of responsibility, indeed almost a sacred trust, in capturing the essence of a work and portraying it as accurately as possible. It would be self defeating (and a bit depressing) to dismiss the value of that effort and yet I recognize that a photographic reproduction is no substitute for the original work (unless, of course, the original is itself a photograph) or the experience of seeing it in person. The reasons for this are many and varied, ranging from technical to philosophical. My work has me spending countless hours in front of works of art (in person, in print and on my computer screen) and has given me plenty of opportunity to think about these topics. In future posts I will share those musings. Stay tuned...

Image caption:  Vincent van Gogh, Dutch, 1853–1890 The Postman, 1889, Oil on canvas,25 7/8 x 21 3/4 in. (65.7 x 55.2 cm) © The Barnes Foundation, Photo by: Tim Nighswander/IMAGING4ART

Tim Nighswander/IMAGING4ART