Art? Or Science?

It’s a question that comes back to me time and time again as I think about how I ended up with a career in photography.

Like all parents, mine are full of stories about what I was like as a small child. I was incredibly good at making a mess – a trait that seems to have stuck firmly with me into adulthood – and had a desire to know how everything electronic in the house worked. I was transfixed with technology and would spend hours staring at the record player (I feel like I’m showing my age a tad here) trying to figure out how it worked, or formatting floppy disks into DOS mode with my dad, or learning how to wire a plug. We did a lot of creative activities at home like pasta collages and making clothes for my Barbie collection, but truth be told if the computer was free I would have jumped at the chance to play Commander Keen or Jazz Jackrabbit.

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If you’d asked me what I wanted to be whilst growing up, I’d have told you I wanted to be an astronaut, a neurosurgeon or a forensic anthropologist. Despite choosing art as one of my elective subjects at GCSE, it was chosen at this point purely because I had a natural affinity for the subject and gave me the best chance of getting good enough grades for college. I hadn’t got on very well with the art teacher in lower school and found the syllabus to be very restrictive on creativity, focusing heavily on copying or adapting the works of others rather than being given freedom of expression. My favourite subject at school was science and, thanks to the support and encouragement of two incredible high school science teachers, it was a subject I continued into A Level with the addition of Psychology. Having done well in art and graphics at GCSE, it made sense to continue these in further education whilst pursuing that forensic anthropology career path. However, it turned out that graphic design became far more than just a filler subject. The course was heavily based in digital technology, with two hours of compulsory Photoshop lessons per week. Once I’d been shown the basic editing tools, you couldn’t tear me away from that computer. My parents bought a copy of Photoshop Elements for the home computer and it soon became my favourite subject.

Flashing forward a couple of years, both the scientist and the creative within me had found their happy medium. I’m at Westminster University studying for a degree in illustration with a heavy focus on digital techniques. I experimented with animation, film, printmaking, web and flash game design, but by third year, I’d made friends in the photography department and was had found a niche in digital compositing. Taking photos of friends and classmates in a makeshift studio I’d set up in an empty cupboard at the university, I’d superimpose them into fantasy based environments for grown up story books. I was completely drawn to the technical elements of photography, spending hours researching how cameras work and investing in my very first digital SLR. It was creativity based in science. Over time, the illustrative elements of my work evolved into retouching skills for portrait based photography, but they still remain behind the scenes and often make appearances in my personal work.

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I’ve been working as a professional photographer now for 4 years, where my work has naturally evolved to centre itself around my passion for music, dance and theatre, not to mention my magpie tendencies for diamonds and glitter!  However, it’s still as much about the technology and scientific processes as it is about taking the photos. I’ve been working as a Wacom Influencer for the past three years, demonstrating the benefits of pressure sensitive technologies to other photographers and how it can enhance their workflow. I have also been working as an Adobe Influencer for the past year, helping others how to enhance their images through Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. My desire to learn new skills and techniques constantly pushes me to try new things, to be more creative.

As Albert Einstein once wrote, ‘The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious—the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.’ And I suppose this is what I see, or experience, too. The growth of our technology is so rapid no one knows what digital art will be like in 20 years, or 10, or even next week. I want to be a part of that journey.

Imagine if you could sit in a room with an Adobe expert who will teach you and efficient workflow through both Lightroom and Photoshop. They could help you fully understand both and answer any individual questions that you might have. Here at The Farm, we are thrilled that Tigz Rice has come on board and is teaching three classes at the upcoming Farm Week. The first on Lightroom, then Photoshop with the aim to get you up to speed in both before the New Year really kicks in. Her third class is in the fine art of Boudoir photography, how to market it, shoot it and make a decent profit from it.

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