Is it cheating for a visual artist to use a camera for his subjects?
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Is it cheating to use a camera?

Is it cheating to use a camera?

I am trained in some of the classical methods of drawing and painting.  The atelier schools of figurative art and the plein aire schools of landscape painting emphasize the importance painting live.  In fact using a camera to work from is frowned upon.  It is seen as cheating.

Clearly their are limitations to using a camera.  If you use a high f-stop with a digital SLR you can get remarkable clarity across the entire image.   But in fact our eye does not see with that clarity.  We see a small spot of clarity and the remainder in our peripheral vision will be in soft focus.

In addition a camera will capture light in a uniform manner that does not translate well to a painting or drawing if you copy it slavishly.  If you want to represent the human figure it is better represented with a strong light and shadow areas in a drawing or painting.  Unless you carefully plan your lighting in a photograph it will not translate well to a photograph if copied carefully.  But often you can get a still nice photo without dynamic lighting.Carrie and Bredon 1 small

But what if you want to capture a dynamic composition of models in a pose that realistically cant be held more than a few moments?  While I have a great respect of working live from the model I want to accomplish some dynamic compositions that can’t be held more than a short time.

02180_delving_webI want to capture some angles that require you to stand over the model.   You can’t paint or draw hovering over the model.

So I guess I am breaking some rules but I would rather do that than produce boring and safe compositions over and over.

Do you think using a camera cheating?

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