Saturday, December 1, 2012

Psychological Differences Between the same subject, Painted and Photographed

Walking through both the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery today, I realized I like both painted and photographed portraits but for different reasons. Photographs capture a single second. A single moment that will never be replicated again. A moment frozen in time. I think there is something magical about being able to bottle up time. It is amazing to think that this photograph actually happened. A room looked exactly like this picture, or these people posed like this at some point in their life. At the same time however, it doesn’t always capture the soul of the situation or sitters as a painting could. There was one set in the National Gallery that had a painting of a young couple at their home and a picture of a different, more modern young couple at their home and the painting was able to get across the more homely feeling. The painting captured and brought to life something that was missing from the photograph. I could see the essence of the people in the painting but the people in the photograph felt staged and flat. While this might have just been the pictures that they put together, it made me think about the differences. On the other hand however, you can never be completely sure that a painting is what something actually looked like or was like. There is so much interpretation of a painting – the people, the situation, the time – that cannot be faked in a photograph. A photograph is a snapshot of a moment in time where as paintings take time to create so an artist’s vision can change or become altered in some way. 
I think the take home message here is, both have their pros and cons. Photographs are believable because they are a slice of time but they can be staged and the essence can be lost. Paintings are capture the soul of a situation but at the same time are mysterious – you never fully know if what you are seeing actually happened. I like both and don’t think I could pick a favorite or one that I always prefer. It changes based on what I am looking at and what I think it is getting across.

Here is the link to the set for the day: A Sense of Time and Place These pictures have a contrast between now and some other time. Whether it be between Marilyn Monroe and Janna, or when they decided where the Prime Meridian is and today there is some distance between when something was created and my picture. 

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