Is It a Photograph or Is It Art?   3 comments

I have been reading some posts by photographers who are really into the idea that their images are pure and pristine because they take great pains to get all the settings right in the camera so they do little or no post processing. They harken back to the days of film when post processing in a wet darkroom was a long and time consuming process and you really needed to get it right on the film. While they are not quite beating their chests about the fact they are producing “pure, real” photographs, they are coming close to it.

Rest assured, I don’t have a problem with this approach to photography, however I do have a problem when they proclaim that those of us who do a lot of post processing are sloppy photographers. They are so hung up on what they consider “real” images that they fail to realize there are no such things!

To my knowledge, there are no cameras on earth that can produce an image that is exactly what the human eye sees. As Garry Winogrand:wrote, “A photograph is the illusion of a literal description of how the camera ‘saw’ a piece of time and space.” Notice the use of the word, “illusion.” A photograph is not, nor never will be a literal translation of what the eye sees.

The photographer makes a choice of what focal length lens to use, what shutter speed, aperture, white balance, where to focus, where to shoot from and many other considerations all which influence the final image. And then they proclaim that their image is a true representation of the scene. I’m sorry, it’s not!

If the photographer is an artist, then his camera becomes his brush, pallet and canvas. He is free to interpret the scene before him in any way he chooses in the same way as an oil or watercolor painter. Abstract, Cubism, Expressionism, Fauvism, Impressionism, Pointillism, Pop Art, Postimpressionism, Primitivism, Realism or Surrealism are all valid styles. Some of these styles may not be to your liking, but so be it!

The same should be true in photography. We have fought long and hard for our creative output to be considered as art and qw as artists. Why do we now get so upset when someone goes in a different direction than realism? I may not like a garish HDR photograph, but if that is the way the artist wants to present his work, then what’s the problem?

Yes, if an image is presented as “this is the way it was” such as news or documentary, then it should not be altered so as to change the facts. But for the rest of us we deserve the right to alter our images in any way our vision dictates. You go your way, I’ll go mine, but, don’t ever let anyone tell you your way is wrong!!


Posted May 11, 2013 by hwilliam in Photography

3 responses to “Is It a Photograph or Is It Art?

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. oh i agree whole heartedly as we can change an image while keeping the heart of the thing we have photographed, it can say what it is by being a pure image but just as much it can say what it was that you felt when you took it.

  2. Reblogged this on karenlawrencephotography.

  3. To be honest with out post processing to alter a photo as arty or real as I like, I would give up. It would become to sterile a form for me and as a learner the quickest way to keep on going is to make it fun and post processing can be a lot of fun

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: