Your Photography is What You Make of it

“Vitaque mancipio nulli datur, omnibus usu.”—Lucretius (96-55 BC)

In case your Latin isn’t up to speed, one translation is: “Life isn’t given to anyone, but just given on loan to everyone.” When applied to my own photography I think this means making the kind of images that I like.

I believe that the process of making photographs extends far beyond merely snapping a shutter. Manipulating images has been a part of the photographic process since Julia Margaret Cameron got her first camera, yet all of a sudden when computers get involved, it sets some purists hair on fire. Recently, the appearance of one of my automotive images generated these comments:


“Once you change an image it ceases to be a photograph, even if all you do is sharpen it.” I thought that was a bit strong until I read, “Resorting to Photoshop tricks just means you’re not a good enough photographer to actually capture the image.” Ouch, that one hurt but I especially enjoyed: “Let’s say you take a photograph and manipulate it in some software program. If the end result is 50% photograph and 50% manipulation, you are only half the photographer you think you are.”

One photojournalism fan put it this way, “Putting anything new in a photograph makes it an illustration. Taking objectionable items out does not debase its basic photographic nature.” So let me get this straight: Removing a telephone pole is, I assume, OK as was the case with a 1970’s Denver Post photo editor who airbrushed a prize winning bull’s photograph to hide its cojonés. I can tell you this; the bull’s owner was not amused because it appeared to devalue the value of this particular animal. Then there was a comment that “Photoshopped images are drawings, not photographs.” After all these years of not being able to draw stick figures, I can finally draw! Mom would have been proud. Finally, there was this statement I sorta agree with, “Why don’t we just call it all Art or at least artful.”

Author: Joe Farace

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