No doubt many PHOTO Techniques readers are interested in using photography to make art.Those who don’t sell their photographs have complete flexibility. Like young painters who sometimes copy the works of masters as a learning exercise, they might set out to duplicate a famous photograph. On the other hand, a photographer who subjects his or her photographs to the scrutiny of the wider world of galleries, museums, and collectors probably wants to avoid being seen as an imitator. Therefore, it’s important for anyone seriously involved in photography as art, especially those in the second category, to be well informed about what contemporary photographers are doing and what has gone before.
Very soon after Daguerre and Talbot announced their photographic processes in 1839, there were people who were attracted to the idea of using them to make art. However, some felt that camera images resulting from the regular photographic processes were too mechanical to be considered art, and that some sort of human intervention or manipulation should be involved.
Among those sharing the latter view were two painters who took up photography in the 1850s, O. G. Rejlander and H. P. Robinson. A solution to this problem that satisfied them was to print multiple negatives on one piece of paper so skillfully that the result looked as though it came from a single negative. One Robinson print, Fading Away, was made from five negatives, and Rejlander’s well known Two Ways of Life was made from more than 30.