'Exposing' the World of Special Effects: Today's Fine Art Photographers Combine Old Techniques with New Technologies

By Hart, Jane | Art Business News, October 2005 | Go to article overview

'Exposing' the World of Special Effects: Today's Fine Art Photographers Combine Old Techniques with New Technologies


Hart, Jane, Art Business News


Advancements in digital cameras and computer technology are providing photographers with an extensive palette of tools and techniques to create literally thousands of special effects that enhance, alter and support their images. These advancements have propelled the evolution of photography as an art form, with some saying that the use of special effects in photographic images has catapulted photography more firmly into the realm of fine art.

Andre Gallant, a travel photographer from New Brunswick, Canada, and author of several photography books including, "Dreamscapes: Exploring Photo Montages," says, "As an art form, photography has not been as widely accepted as say, painting. Photography has been accepted a little more in the states than in Canada. But the use of techniques to create special effects will only improve on that acceptance of photography as a fine art form. Many photographers now are more artistic than they are straightforward."

The quest for greater expression in their work and escape from boredom has motivated many photographers to experiment with old and new techniques that enhance and ignite their images. Apparently, change has been good for inspiration and business.

"When I stumbled upon the technique of creating montages it was like rediscovering photography" says Gallant. "I was very excited about the process, and I realized that I can express myself better with this technique than with straightforward photography."

Gallant has dedicated an entire book to images of his montages and the techniques behind them, which he has self-published and financed. Believing that photographic techniques should be shared rather than guarded, Gallant also teaches weeklong seminars on visual design in photography for both amateur and professional photographers. These seminars also provide a built-in market for Gallant to sell his images and his books.

Thomas Barbey (pronounced Barbay), of Thomas Barbey, LLC, originally worked with black and white and color in the fashion industry in Italy. He says he eventually became "burnt out on people and color," so he started experimenting in the darkroom before computer technology became affordable. He started having much more fun taking pictures of architecture and creating symbolism in his images.

Barbey says he is represented in about 100 galleries now and that many of those gallery owners have never represented a photographer before they saw his work. "I think the reason they accepted my work is because I am more like a painter with a camera," says Barbey. "I am a fan of Surrealistic painters. I don't find inspiration with normal photography."

Carla Klouda, another creator of photographic montages, says that customers who previously were not interested in hanging photographic works on their walls are now buying her photographs because they recognize these images more as art. "When people walk by a wall of my images they are pulled in. They look puzzled and wonder how the images were created," says Klouda. "People have an emotional connection to the image." Klouda says that this connection opens up a dialogue between the photographer or the gallery owner and the customer.

Barbey also comments on the number of customers who are drawn to the Surreal quality of his work. He exclusively works with black and white images, which he initially thought might be only for a certain crowd. "But it is very popular, and the younger generation tends to be drawn to black and white," says Barbey. "I don't know [whether] it's because of the retro feeling or because the images aren't bombarded with so much color."

Creative Choices

A wide variety of photographic techniques are available to today's photographers. Many of those who are interested in creating special effects mix the old with the new. The end result of this process is often an image that appears to be a painting rather than a photograph. …

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