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Mixed Media vs. Multimedia vs. Enhanced Photography vs Photojournalism

November 19th, 2011

There has been some confusion over classification of various presentations of photography based art, particularly when photography is combined with other forms of creative alteration, reproduction, and mixed with other media, including manual painting.

"Photography" comes from the Greek words meaning "painting with light". The old masters, including Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo, often used "camera obscura" which is a lens and a mirror set at an angle with parchment over it to trace onto. The tracing would then be transferred to canvas or other surface and painted. Camera obscura was invented circa 470 BC to 390 BC by the Chinese, re-introduced circa 430 AD by the Persians and was used by artists until the invention of light sensitive chemicals on strata which then evolved into current day digital photography.

The old masters strove to create art as accurate as photographic reality, using the best tools of the day.

The pinhole camera is also an example of camera obscura. In a number of locations around the world, whole buildings have been built as huge cameras obscura. The room is dark except for a small hole in the wall. Light from outside passes through the hole and is focused on the opposite wall showing an inverted image of the outside scene. There is a good article on camera obscura at . As light sensitive media, such as celluloid film, evolved, so did the methods of projecting an image onto other surfaces, including photocopiers, slide projectors, overhead projectors and sublimation dye printers, to today's inkjet printers, computer and laser projectors. Many artists project their original photographic image onto canvas, sketch or trace the lines of the image and then begin to paint. Some would reproduce images captured by their eyes and manipulated by their brain without intervention of mechanical devices.

I use photography -> computer -> inkjet printer -> canvas -> Fresnel effect acrylic painting.

Regardless of the process used to produce a final image, the art is in the artists intent and the emotional response created in the observer.

Mixed Media vs. Multimedia vs. Enhanced Photography vs Photojournalism

Mixed media:

Mixed media combines elements from more than one visual source (photography, painting, clippings, found art, etc.) into a finished visual image created by the artist. The images created by Bruce Ritchie are mixed media in that they combine photography, computer imaging, and acrylic painting/sculpting. Art is in the emotional response to the artist's intent and presentation, regardless of format.


Multimedia combines visual (still and/or motion images), audio tracks (music, narrative, sound effects) and sometimes olfactory (taste / smell) and/or texture and/or temperature, into an experience involving more than one sense.

Enhanced photography:

Enhanced photography alters the original photographic image either chemically in the darkroom or digitally. Enhanced photography permits removal of distracting elements, such as hydro wires, and permits adjustments in sharpness, colour saturation, brightness and contrast, and as in glamour and wedding photography, removes blemishes and lines from the skin and uses minor alterations in facial features such as eye size and fullness of lips. The finished image is printed on a receiver medium and presented without further alteration, often in a fine art form. A series of images can be combined into a slide show with music, sound effects and narrative, at which point it becomes a multimedia presentation.


No changes in the original image are permitted. What the camera saw is what must be reported, unedited.