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Wednesday, 05 December 2007


You say digital, I say fabrication. Let's call the whole thing off.

Fells exactly dead already--to sit in front of a monitor as dodgy pixels fly by.

And, Mike, it was a BIG mistake you gave up 35mm film so frivolously.

So much of these types of articles seem to lament the onset of digital, while so many exciting and inventive things are occuring because of it. It's kind of a weird disconnect.

I think the "problem" for many people is that "faking" a photo for them makes it a bad photo. If the fakery isn't obvious or disclosed, or the photo is falsely presented as realistic and accurate, I can understand that attitude. But to dismiss all of photography because of it? Strange.

In the art world, especially, should it really matter whether something is "real" or "fake"? Perhaps we need some sort of classification beyond the usual "fine art photo", "snapshot", or "docmentary". Maybe something like "realistic", and "imagined" - although who would determine what those mean is problematic.

I feel like I'm going around in circles, and I guess I'm not saying anything new, but this topic keeps coming up. Maybe everyone should sit back and not worry about it so much, and just do whatever pleases them, disclosing everything...

I have often felt that the advent of digital photography, by which I mean the digital processing of photographic images, opened the door for the photographer/artist, artist/photographer to establish their credentials as artists. Painters have always had the advantage of being able to adjust objects within their landscapes or flatter their clients features. Does it matter that Constable's Haywain is not a faithful representation of the actual scene? Isn't it really the final image that counts? To pick on current photography because it is manipulated and by inference inferior doesn't hold up.

A lot of the static I hear about this subject can be distilled to this:

If you do it on a computer, it is fakery.

If you do it under an enlarger lens, it is art.

Doesn't make much sense to me. I am pretty good at mispresenting reality with both tools. So what will it be: The New Fake, or Fake Classic?

Right. You are seeking from validation from Newsweek. Move aside, Petronius, a new arbiter of elegance has arisen!

Dear Mike,

It's rare for me to read such a fact-filled yet profoundly ignorant article. The author picks and chooses (and mostly ignores) pieces of photographic history to make a dubious thesis. So many counterexamples, over the entire history of photography come to mind, both in the specific and the trend, that I wouldn't even know where to begin.

Someone with a small idea who thinks they are a lot cleverer than they really are.

God save us all from those who would "save" our artforms for us.

pax / Ctein

The argument is really what is art? Everything is art, isn't it? Not all art is good, is it? And the final question is does manipulation turn poor art to good art?


There are a hell of a lot more images now because of digital, it is tiring trying to find the wheat among so much chaff.Like the jackdaw digital newbies are fascinated with the bright colours/collections they can produce using digital/photoshop. The jackdaws put their collections in the nest and the digiphotographers put theirs on the net.

Also if everything is possible where is the excitement. A jaded palate is the result of so much volume and the edge which comes from knowing that the image is a true record as opposed to a manufactured scene.

I'm going to skip over that last sentence in the quote, which still makes my head spin, and attack the first portion of the quote.

Through most of the 19th century, photographers were pros or dedicated amateurs who usually had to mix their own chemicals, paint or sensitize their own plates, often built their own cameras, and painstakingly acquired the skills of their art and craft over time and lots of experience.

At the end of the century, they watched roll film and the Kodak bring photography to the masses, who walked around with their little boxes, sometimes bought at Woolworths, sometimes in the hands of children, pointing and shooting and getting their stacks of prints. And many much photography ensued.

Yet somehow it survived. For every hundred thousand Uncle Sam's who posed Aunt Harriet in front the Grand Canyon and cut her head off in the frame, fogged the film through the little red window, and overexposed the office Christmas party because he couldn't divide a guide number, the world gave us Weegee, and Adams, and Edwards, and Lange and Bourke-White and Karsh and Feininger and who knows how many others.

Sometimes it takes time for art to catch up with technological advances, the next generation of photographic wheat to separate from the chaff.

Is what Cindy Sherman does in front of a camera real or fake? Would her work be more real or fake if she used digital media? For her work the question is preposterous since she is actively constructing representations of social realities. She's just actively constructing them in front of the camera instead of in a computer. In fact, Photoshop would neither particularly help or hinder her construction of reality.

You could ask the same question set of questions about a lot of photographers - Duane Michaels, Richard Avedon's fashion photography - there are tons of constructed realities out there, and they existed long before digital media became a normal way of working.

I think the interesting question about constructed realities is whether they are interesting, not whether they are real.

I guess this debate boils down to what we define as photography - for me it's the admittedly traditionalist view that photography is the capturing of reality in this world, a freezing of a moment in time onto paper. This process happens via the capturing of light onto a piece of film OR digital sensor.

PHOTO = light, no?

Not sure how popular this viewpoint would be, but I don't like heavily manipulated photographs - even if full disclosure of what was done to them is in force. Curves, levels, dodging and burning are ok for me, and so are toning, cross processing. BUT moving / removing / adding of objects, repositioning of elements in the frame in post processing are big no-nos to me.

I know some consider photography as an artform - in that the photographer / artist is free to CREATE a body of work using a variety of methods which may include photography.

Such work to me are still considered art - and the practitioner, an artist in his / her own right - BUT, they are not photographers, only artists who happen to incorporate still photography as one of their techniques simply because much of their final product depends so heavily on techniques like digital artistry using photoshop not related to the act of capturing light. (which is what photography is all about)

I must admit this is an extremely narrow viewpoint not going to be very popular here I think :)

You know its funny, just the other day Elliot Erwitt and I were arguing over just when the Talbotian esthetic door was fully opened. I attempted to prove by reasoning that it was with the advent of sleeveless sweaters while he was convinced that it was cashemere cardigans that did it. And so it went. Charlie H


You make a good picture, it's a good picture.

I could care less how you made it.

Speaking of "Soul" Curtis Mayfield sounds just great on my CD player just now.

Get beyond the process and get right to the essence.

"I must admit this is an extremely narrow viewpoint not going to be very popular here I think :) "

David Teo Boon Hwee,
Except with me. I think you've articulated my own opinion very well.

Even though we may be in a minority.

Mike J.

Paul said, "Painters have always had the advantage of being able to adjust objects within their landscapes or flatter their clients features. Does it matter that Constable's Haywain is not a faithful representation of the actual scene? Isn't it really the final image that counts?"

Well, that's just the point. Painters have always been able to do that because they're painting. Photographers were not able to make the same level of alterations because that was the nature of photography. For me, it's that difference that makes photography what is it and differentiates it from other forms of art. I like that fact that we photographers have to go back to the same place time and time again until we eventually get the shot. I think putting in the effort is a good thing and that's what I like about photography. That's all changed now so that if a photo is bland it can be recreated digitally. I won't say that digital has made photography easy but it's certainly not as difficult as it used to be. It's a sign of the times that whatever is easier is the one that sells. Personally, I dont think that's a good thing. So, my response to Paul is, no, it is not just the final image that counts. How it was produced means a lot to me.

There are certainly a lot more photographic images around with the advent of digital. I regularly see online discussions regarding shutter actuations, number of flash cards needed and their capacities etc - and with a bit of quick mental arithmetic and in analog terms - the need for suitcases to carry all the rolls of film springs to mind.

The 'Everest-size heap of images' from which emerged the odd masterpiece has probably grown quite suddenly into an entire mountain range but the proportion of good and bad is probably still intact.

I suspect that there are quite a few photographers out there that have embraced digital as just a new way of achieving an imaging goal and have not in the process turned their digital cameras into dishonest and indiscriminate scatterguns.

(Posted for Rod Sainty in Western Australia)

The last sentence in the Newsweek quote says it all (“…no matter how much darkroom fiddling someone added to a photograph, the picture was, at its core, a record of something real that occurred in front of the camera."). That sentence points to the core issues of how we (a) define photography and (b) therefore view and interpret what we see.

The whole of humankind knows that photography involves realism as an essential element. Digital art doesn’t. Much of what is presented now in high-end photography exhibitions and competitions crosses the boundary into digital art. That boundary may be open to discussion…but it’s there nonetheless. Would not the confusion end if that distinction was made clear? Why are people so sensitive to identifying themselves as digital artists rather than photographers? The camera may be used for both at the beginning, but the results that we see in exhibits and competitions are often very distinct.

“…no matter how much darkroom fiddling someone added to a photograph, the picture was, at its core, a record of something real that occurred in front of the camera."

Of course, that was never really true. People (including highly respected practitioners) have done violence to that idea since almost the start. Removing a distracting feature here, pasting a bit from another picture there, moving a few things around, changing the time of day...

The difference between photography and other visual art is mostly one of intent, rather than practice. Those drawn to photography do _want_ to capture reality "as it happened" in some form; the relative ease of doing so compared to, say, drawing, is precisely why they were drawn to the field in the first place, and the relative ease of not straying too far is what keeps most users there.

But having a general intent is very different from adhering to some rigid rules of practice. If we need to do a bit of manipulation to recreate the scene as we wish to remember it, rather than what the camera got, then so be it. And if some practicioners choose to stray further and further from that intent in pursuit of their craft then good for them.

This focus on photography as a specific technique isn't really too helpful, I think. We don't worry overmuch about painting as a separate art from sketching, or collage, and don't worry about when an oil painter "goes too far" in mixing in other techniques in their quest for the image they want to create, or using computers to create sketches with the proper perspective as the foundation for their images. I can't really articulate this well, but worrying about keeping photography pure and different from other visual arts doesn't really feel constructive.

I spent a long summer day visiting MOMA and also many galleries in Chelsea this past July. This article is well-founded. Photography has lost all credibility. All the exhibits, and i do mean ALL were so full of fantasy that were one single photograph photoshop free, i would have scoffed at the very idea, that's how cynical i had become by day's end. And I wasn't alone in my opinion. My companion is a master digital printer from Woodstock NY who's been in the photography business for over 30 years. He just kept muttering, "you can't believe anything anymore".

I have done some reading, though certainly not as much as you, Ctein. I would ask you, since you contribute so often to Mike's blog: this is a great opportunity for you to rebut Mr. Plagens piece. I'd love to read what you have to say because I really couldn't see where the article was so ignorant, the idea small, the facts historically biased, nor the writer lacking in cleverness. Really, i think this would be terrific subject matter for a new article from you. I eagerly await same. :)

I'm with David Teo Boon Hwee. I don't mind artists creating elaborate works of art with the help of computer trickery. I even like some of that work. But why insist on calling it photography?

And another one, this time a Newsweek reporter, who could at least have tried [i.e. to research his topic instead of just giving away his hole, oops, sorry: opinion], getting it totally wrong.

1. Photography is a medium, a tool for an artist to express his vision. Since when is the tool the message?
2. Who cares for arbitrary category naming as long as the resulting work works [at least somehow].
3. Categories and names are again just tools to help us talking about phenomena. They are shortcuts, not dogmas.

The point that most people seem to be missing is basically the question, what differentiates photography from other forms of visual art?

Fundamentally, what is different is that photography links the viewer and subject in a very immediate way. The photographic image is a direct record of the light that entered through the lens and struck the film or sensor at a very specific instant in time. A painter or a sculptor may work for hours, days or months to finely hone his perception of an instant of time on canvas, paper or in marble, bronze or a host of other materials. His original idea is therefore worked out slowly and methodically as he creates his artwork. By contrast, a photographer must say everything he has to say in, at most, a few seconds. It is this constraint that gives photography its claim to veracity and what makes it so different from other visual arts.

If we now take what was recorded in an instant and then spend hours, days or months working on it in Photoshop - adding elements, combining images, removing elements, making artistic distortions in any one of a thousand ways - photography becomes no different from any other visual art.

Why is this important? Because when the camera becomes nothing more than a lazy way of creating imagery that could better be produced by hand, it devalues not only the art of photography but art itself.

Here we go again, Newsweek no less.

One could just as easily write an article about how photography is flourishing. Not only can "a record of something real that occurred in front of the camera" be recorded (evidence photojouralism), but now the photographic artist has a zillion more tools at his disposal to specifically nail his vision. The photographer can still be a photographer, as always, and the artist's imagination has greater opportunities to sprout wings and soar.

No, photography hasn't died. It's like saying unplugged acoustic guitar music has perished because digital signal processing has come to life.

No, what has died is the extreme limitations of traditional film-based photography, and the "creatively challenged" now cannot hide from their limitations, and they don't like it.

David and Mike J:

Room on your bandwagon for one more?

That said I like my art regardless of the media, so it's not so big a thing for me per se...

Those to whom it matters whether an image has been excessively digitally manipulated [photographers amateur/professional]it will always be obvious,so whats the problem?
those to whom it matters not i.e. the majority of the viewing public just see an image that may please or displease them and couldn't care less how it was produced.I realise the subject will be debated adnauseum without resolve as long as there are humans walking the globe,there are still people who will only use proper tea leaves when brewing tea to whom tea bags are anathema

No, photography is not dead - it just became a part of the process of artistic expression. Digital (or computers) just made it more convenient to express our ideals (GIGO). I guess with the advent of digital imaging, acquiring artistic license is raised a bar or so. Most of the people who cannot meet these new challenges are insecure at what those who adapted can achieve with digital media. Fine if traditional darkroom means can equal or surpass the artistic expression of digital manipulation. But then again art itself is so arbitrary. It is probably like when film photography enabled people to express their ideals with less artistic skills to paint with oil or water colors on canvas or paper. The main point of this image making process is the ability of the person to impart or invoke what one feels when the image was created whatever medium one uses. I would rather see image making evolve than a status quo maintained.

A question for you all . . .

If a photographer showed you an image of a woman in a red hat nonchalantly walking down the street, would it make any difference to your appreciation of the photograph if:

a) the photographer had asked her permission and "posed" her to make it look like a candid shot.

b) she was a model and was asked to wear the red hat.

c) the photograph was in fact a candid shot.

d) the photo was a candid shot, but her yellow hat was changed to red in Photoshop.

Assume there are no visual clues in the image that would help the viewer determine the approach taken.

Wasn't it Duke Ellington who said, "There are only two kinds of music: good music and bad music."(?) Anyway, we are all children of our times. We have been so inculturated through the "great" institutional teats of religion, recreation, education, politics, et-al, that we are ever more vulnerable to volumes of whatever the slickest, cutest, version of reality is out there. When trying to decide if you are witnessing somthing real or fake, try walking around in it and see it from more than one angle.

Mortensen is probably laughing in his grave for it is his heavily-manipulated, staged theatrical legacy of his images that is in the ascendency (see Sherman, Wall, Struth, etc.) rather than the views of Adams, the Westons & other Modernists. Can you imagine what artistic monstrosities Mortensen would be creating if he only had digital. Maybe there will be a pendulum swing back to reality based photography.

It's a fine and romantic stance to bemoan that photography used to have at least a glancing relationship to veracity. Mike J.: you've previously claimed to be quite expert at spotting manipulation of analogue prints. Problem is anyone with a reasonable amount of skill using Photoshop or equivalent can alter a digital image file - witness Carl Root's red hat - then print it, such that no amount of expertise is going to uncover the change. So let's leave the aura of veracity as the special province of the analogue print and add that to the list of reasons not to let that fine and subtle craft die out.

If you further wish to reserve the words "photograph" and "photography" for analogue - by all means. The best way to do so is to come up with replacement terms for their digital counterparts so compelling that everyone will instantly want to adopt them.

We're waiting... ;)

The two "photos" at the top of this page, from an 8 x 10 view camera; as argued here the ultimate in reality. Analog vs. digital. The first distorts reality to make reality look real; the portrait presents a reality through the distortion of the soft focus lens, but in reality, the potraitee may be a hard edged, difficult, contrary harridan.

If you've exposed two rolls of film of a political figure whom you dislike, surely amongst that 72 is the one that shows him or her as the slack-jawed, finger up the nose dolt, you believe them to be? No "manipulation" needed.

Reality, reality? Pfui, I think I'll go create a reality distortion field around my checkbook; it could use some help.

Bron :)

If only Peter Plagens' short Newsweek article was as thoughtful and insightful as the comments offered above! I've really nothing to add to the body of commentary. Others have already presented nearly all of the thoughts on both sides of the debate that I share.

But it is noteworthy that Peter Plagens, when not being a gadfly art critic, is himself a painter.

He is represented at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery in New York: http://www.nancyhoffmangallery.com/plag/view.html
which offers a highlighted Plagens painting titled, "How much urine can you get from a Dead Coyote?"

Plagens also publicly holds forth on the subject painting:


What I don't get is that people have been making "fake images" in the darkroom for years... Does this now mean that Jerry Uelsmann is now not a photographer? Now, I would agree that many artists using digital tools relate more to collage artists than photographers, regardless of their use photographs (was Hannah Hoch a photographer?-I don't think she even regarded herself as such), but what of those who were "manipulating images" (we all do, to some extent, whether it be a burn here or a dodge there) before digital imaging was possible call themselves? Silver Print Makers? This whole defining thing really just seems kind of silly...
All in all, I think photographers on a whole take themselves to seriously, and I include myself. Why must we get so defensive every time someone (usually someone who would not consider themselves a photographer, mind you) attacks the state/purpose/integrity of our medium? Are we really that insecure and are we still worried that people don't think of photography as an art form? Do we still need to compare ourselves to painters and say "hey, we're artists too, recognize us?"
We should just make photographs/art and stop worrying about all of these technicalities. Do you feel you do what you do with intergrity? I hope so - if not, you should take a good look at what you're doing... Photographs NEVER told us the truth any more than anything else, they've just shown us a small snippet of time (How much truth can you really get from a 60th of a second? seriously?) and the photographer has always been able to leave out what he/she wants. (have you ever moved a piece of trash out of your shot, or hell even just cropped a huge portion of one of your pictures, come on, don't lie...) Is that truth? It's like we're still debating whether or not hip hop is music! Take a look at history- this kind of thing happens every time a medium changes or a new form of expression arrives- (let's take music as an outside example: how many people said this is not music when hip hop/rap first appeared? how about rock'n'roll? or the blues? or jazz even? "They can't just improvise! The music NEEDS to be written down before hand, or it's not music at all!") and in the end all of this debating over this and that has never mattered. It's all pretty ridiculous. Let us all just make some photographs, film or digital, and get on with our lives. (boy am I going to hear it for this one...oh well)

Player said, “No, what has died is the extreme limitations of traditional film-based photography, and the "creatively challenged" now cannot hide from their limitations, and they don't like it.”

That is a very strong statement to make. I think you could also make a case from an almost opposite position in terms of hiding. It sometime appears that some hide their lack of ability to capture a meaningful of even a well composed photograph behind the awesome power of digital image manipulation software. It all depends on how you feel about it.

I think that when we start adding to, taking away and moving parts and elements of a photograph we are then really doing a montage. It's certainly just as valid an art form but it really isn't a photograph in the traditional sense. That's just my opinion. There's a fine line that gets crossed and it's whereabouts will be debated forever but that line is there someplace. I guess you could even say “let your conscience be your guide”. Yes, I'd say the line has been crossed in the darkroom and on a digital work station many times. But it is so tempting and easy in our new digital age to cross that line that we all can cross over without even realizing it at times. I know I have. Is it important to know where you perceive the line to be? I think it is, if you call yourself a photographer and sell your work as photographs. Again, “let your conscience be your guide”, if you want to be a digital montage artist be proud and be one.

To me the difference is this, when I look at a photograph I feel I'm seeing the world through the eye of the photographer and how he or she saw it. When I look at a photo montage, be it digital or analog I feel I'm seeing the world through someone's imagination. Both are valid art forms but from a different point of view. As a viewer there may be times I will not know if I'm looking at a photograph or a montage but the artist or photographer will know if they are being honest to themselves and to the viewer. In my mind art should be an honest endeavor. I know, I'm being bit naive perhaps but honesty is worth hanging on to.


Eh, this is a bogus controversy. I don't see anything wrong in principle with digital manipulation (beyond the usual curves, etc.). I just don't find it very interesting, usually. I'm rarely tempted to do it in my own photography (in large part because I'm lazy).

I feel the same way about some of these clearly staged photos you see (Gregory Crewdson is a good example of that). It just doesn't work for me on some levels (although this isn't entirely true, either).

To be fair, I'm sure there are images where digital manipulation has been done that would or even have blown me away. If the quality of the image, or some characteristic of it, is good enough, I won't notice or can ignore the manipulation and/or excessive staging.

(boy am I going to hear it for this one...oh well)

Well, if we are aligning ourselves into "camps" here........

I am happy to join Mark's camp!

According to theory of cognition we must believe before we can scrutinize. Hence we believe that what we see is real - and that what is presented in a photogaph has been actually experienced by a human being first hand. If we recognize that we are misled by any sort of trickery our typical response is disappointment. Therefore belief in the integrity of the photography is of paramount importance to a viewer's, appreciation of an image.

Most digital images might be unmanipulated - but since we KNOW that alterations might be completely unverifiable we doubt whether a digitally captured image is real in the first place. This leads to the point that digital images are simply not trustworthy.
More than ever if photojournalists start to manipulate their pictures as has happened already quite often.

It may be rather unrelevant what artist mean or do. But it is of utter primary importance whether news photography loses or keeps its character as a document.

Rob Griffin, you make a strong argument, but where I debark the ship is the slight implication that anyone can create an evocative, artistic "photo montage." There still has to be an artist residing within the photographer for that to happen.

Further, like a musical recording, it's all about the source. If a musician singing and playing into a microphone is stinking up the house, no amount of signal processing legerdemain, analog or digital, is going to save the music. Same with photography.

And a photograph is still a photograph whether it's manipulated or not. It seems we might have to redefine exactly what a photograph is.

Mark S: u said photography was supposed to be merely showing us a snippet of time. True, that was the original intent. With a digital montage / fabrication, there's no longer a snippet of time, just a snippet of fantasy.

Hi all,

All of you make good arguments and it's been a pleasure reading and chewing on what has been said.

Consider this: If you take an ordinary picture of a little girl, and on an artistic whim, added angel's wings to her, a halo above her head to make her look more angelic, would you still consider that a photograph?

Taking that even further, you began to get creative - the background is distracting, so you remove it and replace it with swirling colors, textured backgrounds and what nots. The final product evokes feelings of heavenly bliss, fit for the Christmas season. Is that still a photograph?

Remembering your art class, you decided to add Rembrandt lighting to the scene to spice it up. It's a beautiful piece of work. People are willing to buy it.

Is it still a photograph? A moment in time?

Let's say you're really good at this - you decide to produce a book entitled "Visions of Heaven", and you produce work similar to that first masterpiece to fill the pages of the book. Will you introduce yourself to someone saying "hi i'm a photographer"?

I submit that no, you're not a photographer, and your work has largely nothing much to do with photography, cos the final output, or result depends heavily on digital manipulation, without which they would merely be relegated to the snapshots /happy snaps category (nothing wrong with that - I have tons of those :)).

You're in fact, a digital artist / visual maven. A craftsman. You produce art and are valued as an artist. But that's not photography anymore. The photo is a small subset of your creative input. You could have just used ANYONE's photograph of a little girl and turned it into art using photoshop, and no one would be none the wiser.

I took a picture of a guy. I developed the film and processed it..When I was processing the film, I put some corn syrup in the developer to make the image more grainy.

While I was printing the image, I put some slices of tomato into my glass negative carrier with the negative and crammed it into my enlarger, cool. As I was exposing the print, the juice from the tomato shorted out my cold light head, there was a flash and a big pop...Whatever, happy accidents! I also masked out the subject's annoying ears and the pooper scooper on the lawn in the background. I took the sheet of photo paper and souped it, washed and dried my print. I retouched some scars from the subjects face and smoothed his drooping, splotchy breasts. At this point, it was an excellent photgraph, so I matted it and submitted it to a gallery for consideration. The gallery owner told me that he couldn't accept it because the subject matter was crippled by bad lighting, poor compostion and what appeared to be a grainy x-ray of a tomato. I explained that it was a winter tomato and it was all i could find this time of year. He wrinkled his brow and frowned at me over his zircon encrusted spectacles.

I cut off the top of his head, glued his eyes half closed and there was a light pole coming out of his shoulder...the gallery owner's.

Before I left him, I asked him if he would like to see something with rocks and lapping, blurred waves on a curved shoreline in the extreme foreground, leading to a brill sunset in the background. His last words were, "do you have a lot of those?" I said, "No, but I can get 'em, they're on the internet right now and the tonal ranges are phenomenal!"

After reading the article and following posts, all I can say is “wow”. So compelling was the subject and following opinions, that I chose this as my first ever post. Admittedly, I read through all of this and then I closed my browser to reflect on what I read. Now I am back, with my two cents to offer. Merriam-Webster has this to say about this debate:

Artist: 1 aobsolete : one skilled or versed in learned arts barchaic : PHYSICIAN carchaic : ARTISAN 12 a: one who professes and practices an imaginative art b: a person skilled in one of the fine arts3: a skilled performer; especially : ARTISTE4: one who is adept at something

Photographer: : one who practices photography; especially : one who makes a business of taking photographs

Photograph: : the “art” or “process” of producing images by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface (as film or a CCD chip)

So based on this one could reasonably conclude that all photographers are artists. Debating this is like debating if apple pie is still apple pie if you put ice cream or cheddar cheese on it. I prefer mine plain, but that doesn’t make the other ways right or wrong, only different. Maybe we could just continue to use the labels we have already created, such as portrait, documentary, or fine art, to describe our craft, acknowledge what others are doing, and gain some inspiration to go forth and practice some more of our own preferred methods. I personally use both film and digital mediums, and being that I am very amateur, I prefer digital because it is easier (read as cheaper) for me to achieve what my minds eye wanted the photo to look like in the first place. Shouldn’t we look at the picture not as what was printed on the paper, but in what the creator was trying to accomplish or what emotion they were trying arouse? I felt for a long time that if you didn’t have a background in film photography, you simply weren’t a real photographer because you couldn’t appreciate the challenge of light manipulation and getting it right the first time, every time. That only proved how amateur I really was. I have never met anyone who took 24 or 36 perfect pictures in a row with film or digital. Not even a pro photographer. Photography is like golf. It’s the thrill of that one great shot that keeps you coming back…

Digital snappers who alter their image files are essentially lazy pseudo-artists who lack the ability to classicly paint.

Photography has nothing to do with altering what the lens sees. There could be some post-compensation to adjust for color and/or contrast because of a particular film emulsion, but that's it.

This new art form which presumes it is an extension of photography needs a new name, something as far from the word as possible.

I heard the phrase “Disruptive technology” for the first time during a lecture shown on the BBC by the gene pioneer Dr V Craig Venter. He spoke of how the study of biology had now gone digital and the affect it has had upon traditional research. He likened the change to the car replacing the horse and cart and digital replacing film.

Now I'm sure the good Dr knows more about genes and biology then he does about photography; and from what he spoke of in his lecture his vision of the future may well save mankind from the disastrous path we're taking regarding climate change. So Biology going digital may help save lifes and mankind itself. Digital photography may well be a “Disruptive technology” i would not panic yet by saying it's destructive

A greater man then i once wrote:

"The first thing that the photographer learned was that photography dealt with the actual; he had not only to accept this fact, but to treasure it;"

I do treasure it, but i do shoot digitally.

Many people are scared of where the study in to genes is going. Are we going to see flying pigs one day?

Not in my photographs;


Art, not art? How does that change the individual emotional response to making or viewing an image?

I should add one more condition to my earlier list (about half way down.)

If you learned that half a dozen other photographers were lined up to get virtually the same shot of this woman with the red hat, and our photographer joined them, would it matter to you that someone else had essentially "predefined" the shot to the point where the differences between each composition were inconsequential? Does it matter who decides what, when, where etc.? Is it your shot if someone else sets it up?

It seems like everything that can be said on this topic has been said, it just hasn't been said by everyone yet.

So on it goes.

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