production value: pencil vs. camera


Joachim Knill

Knill takes surreal polaroids with a huge camera he built himself. His style looks almost painted or drawn and, given their surreal nature, if you told me they were indeed paintings, I would be inclined to believe you. After posting rather randomly about the Bunny Suicide Comics, I was struck by the relative affordibility, ease, portability and spontaneity of being able to realize your exact vision with a pencil and paper rather than with expensive or, at the least, space- and time-consuming set ups, gear and props.

According to his website, props and lights are precisely what Knill needed to execute his photos:

Joachim Knill’s most recent work consists of 20″x30″ Polaroid photographs which he creates with the world’s largest portable instant film camera designed and built by himself. The photographs depict surreal landscapes and installations which he builds in his studio. He uses mostly natural objects… These objects are built up as a real life installation which he then captures in a single long exposure with light painting techniques.

I wonder if in this case, it wouldn’t make more sense (technique learning curve and personal inclination aside) to do a photo-realistic painting or pencil drawing. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to take a basic photo and flesh out the finer details with a brush?

I’m curious about the cost of hiring an artist to work from a photo vs the studio and post-processing expenditures necessary to complete, say, the Dave Hill look. I assume that the look is Photoshop- as well as lighting-intensive. That sort of work in PS is very similar to drawing, isn’t it? Could a painter achieve that same look? Would there be any obvious discernable difference between the two works?

Of course, many of Hill’s photos derive their value from star power, and a photo is proof that the celebrities were on location to sit for a photo, whereas a drawing no longer is, having been displaced by the availability of photos of any and every thing a person could think of. It is a bit strange to me though, that in this Photoshop age, we still perceive a photo as more realistic than a drawing.

Perhaps photography wins because of its drawing power as a record of physical objects. Being the physical creatures we are, it’s much more engaging to handle and arrange concrete objects in a three-dimensional world instead of pushing abstract images and ideas around in our minds.

Still, there’s a freedom to being able to conjure up any location, props, subject, weather, etc. that you like. Church interiors in a fictional city? Zealous priests in pursuit? All instantly possible in comics! Not to mention there’s a bonus – suspension of disbelief makes photo-realistic technique unnecessary!


Slow Wave (I just can’t help myself)

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~ by Jin on January 14, 2009.

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