Photography and Mapping Truth

The earliest photograph kept in the record was taken by Nicéphore Niépce in 1826, titled View from the Window at Le Gras, a scene from nature with a camera obscura. Before the appearance of photographic techniques, people painted down specific moments of life or human portraits to keep records of them.


Although paintings back then and photographs stand the similar functionality, which is a form of visual record, however, the ways of approaching and intentions are considered to be different.

Before the invention of photography, paintings were used to capture specific object, landscape, moment, or event via the artists’ eyes. In my opinion, capturing moments via paintings is more subjective in comparison to photographies. Through the history of arts, different movements were developed; for example, The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh is an impressism piece, whereas The Laundress by Jean-Baptiste Greuze is a realism piece. The two paintings both capture a specific moment of that time, creating a significant historical record, however the connotation of them that the artists wanted to express are differed by the different style that each painting was created. A lof of times paintings are said to be subjective, as these art pieces could be perceive very differently by various audience groups.

Starry Night

The Starry Night, 1889, by Vincent Van Gogh

The Laundress, 1761

The Laundress (La Blanchisseuse), 1761, by Jean-Baptiste Greuze

On the other hand, photography plays as a major role of documenting with just a click, which its convenience and ability to capture down the actual imagery have hugely replaced painting in this field. During the lecture, the tutor’s asked whether photography is subjective: which to me photography is nowhere less in its subjectivity. All photographs are taken in specific perspectives, angles, focused on specific object, and composition… etc. These decisions are selected to make the audience view in a specific perspective, which I think photography with considerations of elements of art, is subjective as well.

Through the history of painting to photography as a medium of documenting and recording, photography has stood an important role in the field of art as communication. However, with the majority replacement of painting by photography, I believe the expression via painting is still vital, and still bring the audience a different sensation that cannot be transmitted via photos.


Aicher, O. (2015). The World as Design. 1st ed. Berlin: Wiley, p.92.

Gogh, V. (1889). Starry Night. [image] Available at: [Accessed 19 Apr. 2017].

Greuze, J. (1761). The Laundress (La Blanchisseuse). [image] Available at: [Accessed 19 Apr. 2017].

Willsdon, C. (2017). Painting and Photography. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Apr. 2017].

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