Historians: Painter or Photographer?

What is it to be a painter or a photographer? Imagine two persons, one is a painter and the other a photographer. The photographer takes marvelous pictures of different sceneries and landscapes for his/her recreation. On the other hand, a painter creates a picture out of his/her imagination, which then will be placed onto paper through the use of radiant colors. Setting aside the differences in careers, there is something common among them. Both make use of pictures to either show or depict meaning. They also use pictures as a way to communicate to others their view of today. It can be seen that both involves the use of art.

Nowadays, historians are depicted as either a painter or a photographer. As a painter, historians always paint different conclusions or discoveries from the findings of archeologists and archivists. They depict the age of these artifacts and their significance to history. Historians can also give a background knowledge about different artificial objects by looking at its physical appearance and features like a painter, who comments on various works of art. As a photographer, historians would always look into pictures that were taken during the past. This would allow them to be familiarize with the important people in society like leaders, generals, presidents, etc. Pictures of objects and landscapes also help in the field works of historians. By viewing and analyzing pictures, historians can capture or hit on certain events that may be related to the development of modern society.

Yet, it is difficult to say whether a historian is like a painter or a photographer. Both descriptions can fit them in a sense that historians study and look over pictures like a painter or a photographer. Take this picture as an example:

This picture here shows George Washington crossing the Delaware sea. As a painter or a photographer, they will admire the picture and its beauty as an art, which depicts a scene in history. As a historian, he would not see it as the eyes of a painter or a photographer, rather the eyes of someone curious about this certain event. The historian would then say, “AH! This is where George Washington crossed the Delaware sea.” How does he know this? For a painter and a photographer, they would only recognize the face of George Washington, but not the event. Historians here are in particular with the details of the picture. Although they will not recognize it at once, yet they know that this is not just a mere picture of art.

In my opinion, a historian should not be described like a painter or a photographer. They are more to that of a photographer and a painter. They pay very close attention to significant details and the event revealed by the picture. Historians are to be considered as people who explore beyond the motif of a picture. As seen in the situation of the picture, historians would not just stand in front of it and admire its stimulating colors.

In general, historians are people who go beyond the extent of just looking and describing pictures. They are people who discovered and study the important events of this pictures that led to other important events in history. Likewise, we too should be like historians and discover the achievements, which were unlocked from the pasts by them.


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