Photo-Etching – Is it Cheating Or Valid Art?

Many purists may state that using photography to create an intaglio image is cheating; but is it?There is a strong argument to support such a claim, in the sense that it is the camera that creates the image – without any manual intervention or creative input to the actual digital image on the cameras’ display!Using a photo-resist ground to expose the photographic ‘shot’ onto a copper plate is a popular method for image transfer. There is little doubt that using such procedures is a very useful time-saving system for the intaglio artist.The question that clearly needs to be answered with great clarity and conviction, is whether or not there are implications regarding the artistic integrity of the process – and of the artists who use it?I believe that the photographic system in artwork is a valid and integral part of visual art that cannot be ignored – and indeed it is simply another means for artistic creativity. Quite clearly, there is much scope for unscrupulous practice because of the very nature of the modern digital age and the ability to violate copyright works.However, if we put aside any such argument, there is no doubt about the creative potential of photography and its usage as a true art-form. With the abundance of superb digital cameras however, it may be argued that anyone can take a reasonable portrait or landscape – without having any real knowledge of photography, lighting or composition.To create photographic works of art, for the most part, implies having a very creative ability, an excellent and detailed knowledge of photography, lighting and composition and dedication in execution and delivery of the end product.With these points in mind, I believe that there is no moral ‘high ground’ for snubbing such works and indeed, where intaglio printing is concerned – the artistic process goes beyond photography because the artist/printer has to convey the essential artistic elements of the original image, to a copper plate, expose the polymer-resist, develop and then etch the plate – before he/she can then ink up and print just one individual work of art.Is not such creative dedication more than deserving of some artistic merit?

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