Famous painting by Monet, (1840-1926), was one of the first to paint with “IMPRESSIONISM”


Impressionism began in France when a group of young and talented artists decided to rebel against the established art critics, called the Salon in France, and form a new style of painting all their own. Impressionists wanted to capture a moment in time. Critics said that their work was merely “impressions” of reality and the name stuck.

The Great artists of the 1800’s were generally very formal in their paintings, and then a few painters came along and started paintings of “everyday life”. The Impressionists wanted to capture a moment in time. They were more concerned with the light and color of the moment than with the details of objects they were painting. They often painted outdoors and worked quickly to capture the light before it changed. They used rapid brush strokes and often used unmixed color to save time. They used unusual visual angles and common everyday subjects.

Image provided by Birmingham Museums Trust 

Trying to figure out why “Impressionalism” had such a hard time in the art world, is beyond me. When I think about how “Impressionism” would be applied today, it seems like “street Photography” would be the Photographic version of Impressionism.

Impressionism today is similar to “street Photography”

people near buildings during nighttime with lights
Photo by Alex Knight on
man lying on barricades
Photo by abhishek goel on

The above photos just happen to show “a moment in time”, similar to what the early artists were trying to depict. This is what is happening now. Of course, you could get by with just showing your family in their daily activities:

photo of girls wearing dress while holding hands
Photo by cottonbro studio on

Impressionist painting vs street photo:

Paris Street: Rainy Day (Gustave Caillebotte)

This Impressionist painting gives the feeling of a photograph. It appears to capture people as they are casually walking down the street in the rain. Although this painting has sharper images than many impressionist paintings, it still captures a fleeting moment in time including the light and the weather conditions.

Photo by Divya Agrawal on Unsplash

Being artistic with “Impressionism” Photography:

Now I am one who loves “artistic” photos. I think if you want to do creative photography with “the moment” being the subject, then I sure hope that we could see something artistic about the moment. And I think that is what the artists of the last century were trying to do. Just as this umbrella photo directly above is, it to me is very artistic, rather just another snapshot.

In order to be creative with Impressionism photography, your goal should be: to find an artistic way to show “the moment” in your picture. Here are some examples of “the moment” that I think are creative, and artistic:

Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash

Photo by Wadi Lissa on Unsplash

Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash


Impressionism and photography, today are related in the fact that the artists of a century ago were just trying to capture their image as “in the moment”. Today we take photos all the time of people in the moment. However, we usually just take snapshots. I think the famous artists of a century ago, were trying to make the “moment” artistic. We have in photography genre’s that are meant to be artistic, but usually they are not. Like “Street Photography” can either be artistic or just snapshots of people, that are not artistic at all. If you want to capture the “moment”, then figure out how to make it artistic. Examples are on this page, so learn from them, and your skills in photography will accentuate.

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