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    Pictorialist Photography Essay

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    As photography grew in popularity, talented artists realized that photography could be used as a means to express emotions or convey a message, similar to artworks.

    After a tough period of artists trying to bring photography into the world of art, it was finally accepted as a new and unique refined art. One of the first photography movements to have been spawned out of this period was the Pictorialist movement. Thriving in 1885 – 1915, Pictorialism was the main style in photography, where photographs would usually appear to lack a sharp focus and appear to have manipulation upon the surface. Soon, it declined in popularity in 1920, where a new style of photography grabbed the attention of the public. When the ability to capture an image and develop it into a photograph was invented, Pictorialism was one of the first styles for photography.

    There is no true origin of this genre but that it began when people started to question the idea of photography being nothing more than a way to capture an image, and not art. Photographers and artists were frustrated at this notion and developed the Pictorialist style in the 1880s to counter this. Pictorialism is when the photographer manipulates the photograph so that it resembles the way that artworks are created. Typically, they lack in focus and have visible brush strokes on the surface, similar to a real painting.

    They also joined together different sections of different photographs to create a composite image which became ‘art’ through the use of external influences. Pictorialism is also about using photography as a means to create art and convey artistic elements through the use of tones, symbols and blurring. It is a vague term that is often debated about by photographers and artists. Pictorialism has had a lasting effect on photography as a whole. It allowed the idea that photography was not just a means to simply capture an image, but was also another way to create an artwork. As one of the first photography genres to appear, it has influenced every other genre after it through the way the style manipulates negatives to create a final product – an artwork.

    Harold Cazneaux was a Pictorialist photographer, born in 1878, 30th of March and living until 1953, 19th of June. He was an Australia photographer who style had a major impact on Australian photography history. Harold was born in Wellington, New Zealand where he entered many solo shows which exhibited his photographs in the windows of the Kodak Salon in Sydney. His photography was also featured in international shows organized by the London Salon of Photography and in the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain’s annual salons. In 1916, he was the founder of the Pictorialist Sydney Camera Circle which consisted of six other photographers.

    In 1937 he was the first Australian to be conferred an ‘Honorary Fellowship’ by the Royal Photographic Society. He was the official photographer for a magazine called the ‘The Home’ from 1920 to 1941. Harold was also paid by Ure Smith for producing images for many of Smith’s publications such as Sydney Surfing and The Sydney Book. Harold also established the Sydney Camera Circle where it mainly embraced the uniqueness of the Australian landscape and light. ‘Peace after War and Memories’ is a photograph taken by Harold Cazneaux which was produced in 1918, right when World War I had ended.

    The image has a peaceful and relaxing mood with a bright atmosphere that is created by the contrast of the light and the dark clouds. Harold has established this photograph to be on a farm, out in the outback by including the horses and the farmer in the picture with the grand landscape. The beige tone of the image identifies the photograph as an ‘Australian’ landscape. The deep emotional quality of this image that is shown reflects on Harold Cazneaux’s thoughts about the war.

    He is relieved and happy that the war has ended and knows that the future will become a happier and peaceful time than it was then. He admires the Australian landscape, especially the outback and prefers that Australia is kept as a peaceful country. This shows that Harold himself is a person that is non-violent and a relaxed natured man. Harold Cazneaux used the standard procedure of producing this image but using the Bromoil technique to produce the beige tone he needed. First he took a snapshot on an analogue camera then exposed the film to the chemicals needed. He created a silver gelatin print by using an oil print technique and then bleached his silver print in a solution of potassium bichromate.

    Finally he enlarged his film with the image onto the silver print and exposed it to receive his final product. Peace after War and Memories is slightly out of focus in some areas and has received some editing on the cloud to make it darker and make the light contrast better. The image was also produced with a beige tone applied to it to create a more rustic look. All of these aspects show that this belongs to the Pictorialist movement due to the on surface manipulations done to the image and the slight out of focus of the photograph.

    It is also similar to how an artwork would be presented with the way that the image is set out. The positioning of the farmer and the light escaping the cloud is perfect in reflecting the peaceful mood and uses the rule of thirds to balance the image out. The heavy clouds with light escaping from a crack represents the war that was raging on recently has now stopped and now hope and peace can prosper. The farming tools symbolize how the citizens of Australia must work very hard to rebuild the country against the consequences of World War I. The farmer is used to show an ordinary person from Australia who is witnessing the start of a new era of peace and prosperity after war. The wide landscape that is drawn out and displayed behind the farmer is shown to acknowledge how Australia has a large potential that can be beautiful and breathtaking if nurtured in peaceful times.

    Pictorialism is an important genre in the early establishment of the photography movement. Through the heated debates about whether photography is just a medium to capture image or if it can be an ‘art’, photography was able to grow as a whole and become much better in the aspect of art. Harold Cazneaux is an Australian photographer who produced the image ‘Peace after War and Memories’ which is an excellent and emotional picture that portrays the ending of a war and the bright future that will take place as Australians work hard to achieve. Using photographic manipulation and techniques to achieve his final product, Harold has accurately captured Australia and its landscape beautifully.

    Bibliography:, National Library of Australia, Cazneaux Collection, 5/7/15,Art Gallery NSW, Harold Cazneaux Collection, 5/7/15,Australia Gov Au, Harold Cazneaux, 5/7/15,The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Pictorialist Genre 4/7/15,Encyclopedia Britannia, Pictorialism, 4/7/15

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