The Daily Rambling Artist: From Slower Shutter To Spilled Paint - Human Emotion In Art

The Daily Rambling Artist: From Slower Shutter To Spilled Paint - Human Emotion In Art

Years ago, during my time as a nightlife photographer, I commonly utilized slow shutter speeds to elevate the visual impact of my images. Without delving into overly technical details for those unfamiliar with slow shutter speeds, here's a simple explanation . . . I think:

Shutter speed on a manual camera controls how fast the click goes. When capturing fast-action scenes, a high shutter speed is preferred. However, in the atmospheric and dimly lit surroundings of a club, using a fast shutter speed would not do justice to the experience, in my opinion. So, I adopted a different approach.

I would intentionally keep the shutter open for an extended duration, allowing the ambient light to flood the image. Once all that light flooded in, I'd use a flash to freeze and highlight the main subject amidst the captivating array of multicolored lights and chaotic ambiance. This technique resulted in images that captured not just the subject but also the essence and feeling of the moment as I was experiencing it.

It was about translating the emotions and atmosphere I was experiencing into the final image. The word "capture" used in photography never quite resonated with me because I didn't want to freeze a moment in time; I desired, instead, to manipulate the composition to relay what I was feeling regarding what was in front of me.

Each frame presented a canvas, and I used the four corners of that canvas to convey the world as I perceived it. It wasn't about capturing reality as it appeared before me; it was about capturing my experience of the situation. Reflecting on my methodology at this time, it’s not hard to see how I transitioned into a full-time painter around this period.

Art creation has always been this way to me. Painting is no different. I have my moments where I dip into realism. I actually studied portraiture under a realism painter, and although the knowledge and abilities I gained were tremendous, it’s not, so far, been the way I want to paint for the most part. I’m much more interested in getting to the grit of how things make me feel, what mood I’m in, or simply the aesthetics inherent to all people, that are soaked into the human psyche through human experience.

-Sergio Santos