Apropos yesterday, I'll just personally say that I'm not too interested in faked-up photographs. Photography works best for me when it respects the lens image.
My main objection to manipulating and "enhancing" photographs is that it makes photography into something less interesting than it is naturally. But, secondarily, I find surreptitious photo-illustration (what Steve McCurry or his anonymous now-fired assistant are in essence accused of practicing) to be just sort of, well, low. It strikes me as a shabby kind of dishonesty. If you're going to Photoshop sh*t, then do it, but do it boldly! If you're going to stage pictures, then really stage them! But to prettify pictures on the sly while pretending they're honest, that's what I don't like.
I personally often feel that overly idealized, overly prettified pictures are in bad taste. That's just my reaction to them. But I don't actually mind heavily edited or Photoshopped pictures. Maybe it's in bad taste when it's done on the sly, when it intends its shabby, mousey little deceptions. Like Jon Lovitz's famous pathological liar from long ago..."Yeah, yeah...there was no light pole there. That street was deserted, except for the thing I wanted to make a picture of. Sure it was! And that rickshaw had only two people in it...there was nobody in it who was laughing and looking at me. Yeah, that's the ticket!"
This is just my take on it, and in photography's house are many mansions. (John 14:2, "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." I.e., there's room for everybody which means there's room for you.) If you want to Photoshop two people out of your rickshaw, don't feel constrained by me. Nobody owns photography, so I don't either.
If I were accused of Photoshoppery most foul, I'd use the Popeye Defense*. Put up ten of my most-manipulated photographs on my web page, showing all the edits and giving reasons for them, and say "this is how I work." No excuses. Anybody who doesn't like it can go, er...fly a kite. (Yeah, that's it.)
I say if you're gonna be a photo-illustrator and go nuts with Photoshop, go ahead—just don't slink around in the ethical shadows about it. Do it strong and bold, and up front.
* "I yam what I yam."
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