Karl recently mentioned here that he prefers (and revels) painting in the context of his reaction to his surroundings. He averred to say that a photo of the landscape would not do justice because 

“Photographs record what a place looked like at a particular moment. They don’t record what it felt like to be there” 

My personal experience is a little different. I tend to think that one’s reaction to a subject depends upon the subject itself. In the case of a landscape, maybe, a photograph records the position of the trees, hills and dandelions in a freeze frame only to change the instant the shutter completes its complex sequence. On the other hand, with a subject like our faces, photography has the power to wholly capture the ‘emotive composite’ of a life lived by the individual.


Sunil Gangadharan, ‘Pill’, Digital photograph, 2007 (more here)

I experience this during my treks through the streets of New York looking for individuals and faces with a stories to tell. Most of the time after I have talked to the person, captured their likeness on film and gone back to my workplace, it is the photo that opens up a groundswell of emotion every time I look at the same. When Karl says

“So for me, the answer is clear: paint in the landscape itself, paint outside, get wet when it rains. That’s the way I need to do it.”

I tend to do the opposite, paint from the photograph itself, live with the photograph imbued with the memories of meeting the person, immersed in their life experiences and then slowly overlay and transform the resulting painting with shades of the emotion that the photo captured at the point in time. Thoughts?