Photo impressionism

Art can be very subjective. The first 20 years of my life were only dominated by musical arts. Music has always been an integral part of my life, still is. But around the age of 25, the music started to change. I started to listen to classical music and wow did it hit me! It started with piano music from Debussy, Erik Satie, and I was really hooked. It broadened my taste in music.

The same then, could be said for my taste in art. I was ready to move to Amsterdam for a new job, and with that came the opportunity to visit the Van Gogh museum. The few paintings that stuck to me were: Starry nightCafe terrace at night, and Garden in Montmarte with lovers. It was a total new experience to be struck emotionally by a painting! You just keep watching and almost lose touch with the surrounding environment. A quick study later on told me that this art movement was called Impressionism. And boy was I impressed!

From Wikipedia:
Impressionism is a 19th-century art movement characterized by relatively small, thin, yet visible brush strokes, open composition, emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities (often accentuating the effects of the passage of time), ordinary subject matter, inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience, and unusual visual angles. Impressionism originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s.

To me, the dreamy scenes created by the visible brush strokes felt like magic. It didn’t just register a scene, it captured the feelings or emotions the painter wanted to communicate as well. Discovering artists like Monet and Cézanne, it was a great experience.

Photo impressionism
Fast-forward to 2016. Photography dominates my mind now. I haven’t really found my niche yet, but I’m also still learning every day.
But wait, what’s this? I’ve stumbled upon a blog mentioning Photo impressionism. The Phoblographer does an article on Thomas van Oost’ impressionistic photography, containing street scenes, clearly influenced by the classic painters from the same art movement.
I was stunned! This merged my love for the street photography genre together with the surrealistic world of impressionism! There had to be more people working on this great genre of photography?
So I did a search on Instagram first, and my thoughts were confirmed. Photo impressionism is here and it’s been going on for a while. I’ve started following multiple photographers and study how they work.

On the origins of photo impressionism, photographer Stephen D’Agostino writes:
Historically there is a close connection between photography as an artistic medium and impressionism. Both are contemporaries of each other and both relied on technological innovation that permitted easy mobility. In the case of impressionist painters, it was the introduction of tube paint. For photographers it was the Kodak camera. Not surprisingly, photographers began to use an impressionistic approach to their images almost from the beginning.

From what I’ve gathered so far, different photographers like to apply different techniques in this genre. Some people only want to use in-camera / manual techniques (slow shutter, camera shake) to create the surreal images. Others prefer to use post production to alter the image to their liking. I’m interested in both approaches to be honest. I could imagine the first technique creating very spontaneous shots which gives the whole workflow a unique experience.  Then again, working in post-production probably gives you some more control in creating the end result. I’ll have to give both a try to learn more.

In conclusion
Needless to say, I’ve picked up a great interest for this photographic genre and I will probably start experimenting with it very soon. I also wanted to feature some work from photographers who are already experienced with photo impressionism. You can find their work in the gallery below, together with links to their galleries. All photo’s are shared with permission of their author.


Artist links:
Luiz Arduini –
Deborah Hughes –
(Deborah is doing a photo impressionism workshop in May 2017 at the Greater Yellowstone Photo Symposium)
Stephen D’Agostino –