This blog comes from a place of contemplation and discussion. What, as photographers, do we owe photography?
Recently I saw an image that was quite impressive from a photographer that had visited Kauai in the last year. However, as I studied the shot I realized something wasnt quite right. After approaching them privately about it, it seems that we dont share the same perspective of full disclosure. And thus my question. As photographers it is our gift to be able to capture nature in a way that can really connect with others. Being able to bring them to where we were at the time of capture. Experience that ephemeral moment. With the advent of digital photography (though these techniques were going on long before digital), the reality of an image constantly gets called in to question. With computers we dont need to capture something when we can just hit a few buttons and remake the image to our own will. At least these are the thoughts that cross people’s minds when they often view photographs these days. I’ve experienced it first hand in my Galleries. That utter disbelief that nature could do something so spectacular. “You must have done something”…nope. Those Rainbow Eucalyptus really do look like that, the sky really does have that many stars and waves really do make crazy shapes. That doesnt mean that a photo is done once the shutter is pushed. Cameras are just tools. They dont think, feel or do anything but capture light. It is our job as photographers to take that negative and make a final product out of it. In fact, most of the same techniques that were available now were possible in the darkroom, just with a few more chemicals and trial and error. Then there are techniques such and dynamic range and focus blending which aim at expanding past the limitations of our gear. Further beyond that we get in to the realm of adding in elements or manipulating a scene so that it fits the image that is in the mind’s eye. The thing is, photography is art. And everything and anything is possible with art. It is what is inside of us that needs to get out and for us that medium is photography. So to achieve the end result by any means is perfectly practical.
So, if I’m ok with image fabrication why all the hubbub? In the end it comes down to disclosure and transparency. As landscape photographers I believe that we owe it to the scene that we witnessed, the general public and other photographers to be true to our art. By misrepresenting a photograph and not disclosing ‘artistic liberties’ one is further perpetuating the skepticism that the general public and collectors already have about the art itself. Furthermore we disrespect that which nature has to offer for us. If getting the perfect conditions were easy well….
Lets continue to evolve as artists. Create what visions are in our mind’s eye. Chase that light. But always maintain consistency and integrity. We owe it to photography 🙂
Much thanks and good light,
P.S. It seems that this post as garnered some attention and after rereading it I realize I that I forgot to clarify a point. I dont believe in spelling out the entire process when ‘creating’ an image but just a simple “artistic license or liberties or whatever you want to call them where taken in this photo” or something along those lines is good enough for me personally. This tells us the viewer that the artist had a goal in mind and bent the rules to fit their vision. If we want to know more, we can ask and this way the artist doesnt need to go in depth all the time.
Should have explained that initially so my apologies there 🙂