I think one of the reasons I love photography, is because of the instant gratification of creating a piece of art. I also paint, draw, and have worked with clay before, but those can be painfully slow for me. I have a tendency to get frustrated knowing that with my schedule, a painting very well could take a month or more, and at the end of it I might not even be happy with the result.
I got my first film SLR camera when I was 15, and promptly enrolled in a summer photography class at the Cleveland Institue of Art. Class was for 4 hours a day on weekdays for a month, and I LOVED it. We would spend an hour or two first thing going out and shooting, and then would head back to the classroom to develop our film in the dark rooms. The following day, we would take our dry, developed film and head back into the dark room to develop our photographs, playing with chemicals and dodging and burning to get just the right exposure onto our final product. It was a huge eye-opener when I discovered how quickly I could get from seeing something I wanted to capture, to having a finished product that could go in a frame.
Now with Digital Photography, that process is even faster. I do miss the dark rooms and developing my film to see what was coming out of my camera, and the delicacy of developing a photo without an undo button (and that Ilford paper isn't cheap), but I love my Photoshop, and the endless possibilities of what I can do with my pictures, all for the cost of my time. One of my most recent experiments is almost like a giclee, but I used colored pencils to overlay a photograph instead of oils or acrylics.
I was able to take this photograph from my trip to Naples, FL
and turn it into this.
I almost don't want to admit how easy this was. First, I brought my photograph into Photoshop, then reduced the opacity to about 50%, and then printed it. With the opacity turned down halfway, the color wasn't as strong and saturated on the print, and made it easy for me to go over it with colored pencil, color matching as I went.
I won't lie, I do have almost 150 colored pencils, so this probably wouldn't be a job for the trusty 12 pack of Crayolas, but it was immensly easier than looking at the photo, sketching it and trying to color it in. After a semi-decent sunset photograph and 3 or 4 hours with my colored pencils, I have a finished product that looks more like artwork than photography!