I often enjoy walking around the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton NJ. The sculptures by Seward Johnson are always on display since his “atelier” is located there. The bronze sculpture, Sailing the Seine (1999), is especially fascinating to me.
One might argue that a photograph of a piece of art by another artist cannot, by extension, also be a work of art. Having thought about this for sometime time, I am prepared to defend my position that a well-done photograph of (in this case) a sculpture can also be considered an artistic re-creation.
In the photograph presented here, Point-of-View (POV) has much to do with the relative success of the image. For example, there is an obvious tension between the two human figures which, in turn, is greatly dependent upon the position of the camera. One could have chosen anywhere – in a 360 degree circle (around the subject) – to make the exposure. As well, one could have lowered the camera a bit so as to be aligned with the eye level of the sitters.
One might argue whether the tip of he woman’s nose ought to merge with the vertical edge of her left cheek. In this case, it doesn’t bother me. The point is, camera angle is an important creative control, having an affect on the final result.
Moreover, there is the transformation that occurs resulting from choosing to present the photo as a monochrome. The effect of a slight sepia toning of the image (15%) was also applied. This effect is commonly available in a “wet darkroom” and there is no concern with procedural integrity.
A significant amount of “printing down” of the edges of the image was applied to keep the attention on the faces. This technique needs to be sufficient to obtain the desired result whilst avoiding obvious signs of manipulation. …another creative decision I would say!
The proportions of the features of the faces are greatly influenced by the photographer’s choice of lens focal length – as the most natural results are obtained by eschewing the use of a “wide angle” focal length – just as in professional portraiture.
Also, please notice that the focus is deliberately sharper on the woman’s face and slightly softer on the man’s face. This shallow depth of field results from the use of a large diaphragm opening. (Your camera DOES have an aperture control, doesn’t it?)
All of this, I believe, points to the fact that a photograph has the possibility of being an art form regardless if the subject happens to be another work of art, owing to the great amount of creative control available to the serious photographer.
f.l. =50mm, aperture f4.5, shutter 1/100 sec., ISO 400; handheld (no tripod)