Recently coming across the exquisite painterly photographs of Belgian photographer Léonard Misonne (1870-1943) who famously said “The subject is nothing, light is everything” to say that I am inspired by his work is an understatement. It is hard to approach Misoone’s work knowing that they are photographs when they look like soft, luminous oil paintings that a master of the craft spent hours mulling over to get the right amount of tenderness. Back in the day it is intriguing to know that Misonne relied on manipulating his photographs during the printing process to get the mood he sought and to that I never understand why people turn their nose up to manipulating photos as even way back then it is still a tool used to help the intent wanted.
I decided to search through the many hard drives I have stored full of photos with the majority taken from my excursions around rural Ireland this past Winter. I picked a bunch that I thought would be ideal to experiment with to see if I can mimic a fraction of Misoone’s glowing photographs. Although these photos were taken in the dead of Winter, the dew brimmed evergreen spruces and ground foaming with moss makes it hard to distinguish.
While editing these photos I feel like I have learned something fundable about photography – when you take detail out of things in favour of something softer the colour can be left to sing which makes the photograph feel more painterly and makes the viewers eye not focus on one thing in particular but take everything in as a whole, which I think can give more mood, tone and emotional intent. Not to say that photography that is sharply focused doesn’t have its own impact, just that it hits differently. Photography is a relatively new medium for me and experimenting to find artists, elements and approaches that I admire and that give me an initial feeling of loving the way a piece looks is exhilarating, figuring out the why is the important part and it is always exciting when you find it.