Looking at recent images that I've been creating with my LG G5 — a cell phone camera, and then editing in Snapseed, I realized that I am conjuring a form of Pictorialism that dominated photography from about 1885 to 1915, which advanced the status of photography as a true art form.
With help from this excellent article about Pictorialism on Wikipedia it became clear these are Pictorial images. I was not aware of its influence when I was editing the images. I was taken with how Snapseed filters and effects created images that looked more like old photographs or drawings and paintings. I liked the results and wanted to think more about what I was creating and what my influences are for this series.
Pictorialism refers to a style or approach which is a distinctly personal expression of manipulating a straightforward photograph. This creates a visual beautiful image instead of just recording what was seen. Images lack a sharp focus and can be printed in warm browns or deep blues. The image can show marks and manipulations on its surface. For the pictorialist, "a photograph, like a painting, drawing or engraving, is a way of projecting an emotional intent into the viewer's realm of imagination." Patrick Daum - Impressionist Camera: Pictorial Photography in Europe, 1888-1918
I've started to manipulate photographs because I love to draw and paint. There are some images that clearly show my interest in mark making and charcoal drawing. While others create something new that I might do with paint or pastel. Working digital allows me to maintain an unbroken workflow that is grounded in experimentation and responding to what I see on the screen. This is the same thing that happens when I draw. You find yourself in the flow of creating. Everything else slips away and you are thinking and responding to what is in front of you.
Finally I am not in a dark room exposed to chemicals. I would rather get my hands covered in charcoal or watercolor paints then developers and caustic solutions. This means my images are not made by hand. The image stands on its own and is not about the the chemical process that went into making the image.
This quote by William Howe Downs who was an art critic of the Boston Evening Transcript in 1900 reminds us that "art is not so much a matter of methods and processes as it is an affair of temperament, of taste and of sentiment... In the hands of the artist, the photograph becomes a work of art... photography is what the photographer makes it - an art or a trade." Naomi Rosenblum - A World History of Photography