The invention of the camera was both a curse and a blessing to the art world. It was a curse at first because artists had to find other reasons to paint in order to make up for some of the market taken by photographers. That effort to find new direction was one of the springboards for the art for art’s sake and the self-expression movements in modern art.
Before long, however, artists began to find ways to actually exploit the medium of photography. For example, the Hyper-Realists of the twentieth century used cameras to create extremely realistic paintings that would have been impossible before due to constantly changing highlights, shadows and reflections.
When slide projectors and overheads were invented, artists were able to project their subjects directly onto the canvas and produce super accurate drawings. (Some traditionalists disapprove of this practice, but the use of a projection device by professional artists was not unprecedented. For example art historians believe that the great eighteenth century scene painter Giovanni Canalleto used a camera obscura to project his cityscapes onto his canvases. The accuracy of his paintings are considered to be extremely valuable to cities like Dresden Germany which suffered so much destruction in World War II).
Cameras also provide a convenient source of subject matter. Today’s artists don’t even have to wait for pictures to be developed before using them. We can work directly from the screens of phones, tablets and laptops. The pictures above and below are examples. They were drawn from the screen of a smart phone.