A Rant on Photoshop

February 12, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

For years, I used to pettily separate myself from other photographers by declaring right on my home page "No Photoshop used to alter these images."  I was proud of the work I had done; I wanted people to know my wildlife shots weren't taken at a zoo through the bars of a cage that were then Photoshopped out, and that my landscapes were capturing the beauty of the natural environment and did not have color saturation increased or power lines removed. I had to work for my photos, almost get eaten by wild grizzlies, and hike far enough out to avoid the power lines. I wanted people to know that.

 

I was a purist. To an extent, I still am.

 

 

First, let me explain the problems I had with Photoshop. Photography is an art, and it takes skill. These days, everyone has a nice camera, and everyone can take 'professional' images. What was left to the true professionals to make their living was having a good eye and knowing how to ask the camera to perform as they want it to in those 'hard to shoot' situations that baffle the amateurs with the good cameras. Then Photoshop became cheap enough for the average 'guy with a good camera' and the business declined; they could fix their bad photos. I became frustrated with the fakeness I was seeing in professional images that photographers were using to set themselves apart. I chose photography as a career path because I wanted to DOCUMENT the beauty around me, not to fabricate it. I didn't want to erase the beautiful wrinkles on an old woman's face that told her life journey, and I didn't want to create composites that stack images on top of one another for a very surreal natural landscape because it tricked people into thinking 'Where is this gorgeous place!? I MUST go there!"  All the while being an unachievable place. I simply wanted people to see the beauty around them, and be proud of the 'blemishes' that make them who they are.

I was pretty much a stick in the mud about this for years. I'll have you know, I pride myself on also being an open-minded person, so I also would embark on lengthy conversations with other artists about this subject. I'll let you in on a secret; two people in particular have swayed my judgment.

A painter has a unique upper hand on photography; there are no advanced paintbrushes that allow the unskilled to produce beautiful canvases. However, this aside, the painter creates their work with the hope of evoking an emotion. That is the purpose of art, whether it is their own emotion or their clients'. So the question was posed to me; if a photo evokes an emotion, who are you to judge how it was created?

Photography is art. Composites are art. Composite and Photoshop artists are the 'painters' of the photography world. Composites are genuinely GORGEOUS and should be valued in the art world.

 

I've backed down from declaring that Photoshop is 'bad' for photography and have become incredibly impressed with all it has to offer. The one thing I have not changed is that I still STRONGLY believe that photographers should talk about the tools of their trade, and let their viewers know what they are looking at. Is this an unaltered photo, a real place that you too can enjoy as I have? Or is this a Photoshopped image that gains beauty from bits of my imagination? The third option would be a composite, which means multiple photos are take of THE SAME REAL PLACE and are then stacked on top of each other to show changes (stars fireworks, etc.) These are the manipulated images I have become most interested in, as they are still depicting a real place but combining aspects of that real place.

Dabbling in this new art form of Photography, I created my second composite for Mt. Werner's 50th anniversary celebration! Real place, stacked fireworks; you get the entire show in one image. Let me know your thoughts. I'm for one, excited to have something new to play with, and I promise I'll always tell you when I decide to start tweaking an image. My walls about Photoshop are coming down, but I think the communication from the artist should always be there. I for one, will always want to know what is real and what is a painting.


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Thanks for visiting! My blog is a resource guide for clients and other photographers for educational and informational purposes. (And sometimes the occasional rant about Photoshop, high-waisted skirts, being too tall to wear heels and Chacos being too casual for work life, and other venting topics.) I write my articles using my experiences and various other resources such as the the web, dusty books, and of course Myth Busters (if you have never watched that show, it's well worth the couch time). That being said, anything I say on my blog doesn't come as guaranteed advice; it's opinion only. By visiting my blog, you're essentially signing a contract that says "Yup, I understand; you make no guarantees and I won't try to sue you or report you to Obama. That might make our new friendship awkward."

Read on and enjoy, life is full of adventures!

Rory

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