This is another in a series of photos I refer to as being “reimagined” images. The questions often comes up, how much can an image be digitally altered before it really cannot be considered a “photo” anymore? (see more text below)
I am more of a purist on this point, so my photo posted above that was reimagined using Photoshop, would definitely not be eligible for instance in a traditional photo contest as far as I am concerned. Of course, who defines traditional these days?
My background is in photojournalism. A tenet of ethical journalism is you do not manipulate a news photo beyond very basic cropping, toning, levels, etc. Is it ever O.K. to digitally alter a news photo? As Taylor Swift would say, “never…. ever!”
Newspapers and wire services such as The Associated Press, where I edited photos for nine years, take this rule very seriously. In that realm, digitally altering a photo is akin to someone in Major Leagues betting on baseball. You get caught doing it, you are gone, like Pete Rose, no Hall of Fame for you.
When I first ventured into non journalism photography, it was hard for me, thanks to my news conditioning, to alter an image, even if I knew it would look better.
For most of my nature work, if the original version stands on its, own, I do not feel the need or want to manipulate it. I rarely if ever add or subtract an element to a nature photo for the same reason I would not do so to a news photo, I feel there needs to be a certain level of integrity so the viewer finds the photo believable.
If I had a photo of a deer and then start adding birds that were not there and replace the cloudless sky with the puffy clouds I copied from a beach photo, I think
that photo could really mislead people.
All art, no matter if it is a film, a novel or a photo, must be believable on some level, or the reader or viewer will have difficulty relating to it.
When I do digitally reimagine a photo, I try to, as I did in this photo, manipulate it to the degree that it clearly looks as its been in Photoshop, or iPhoto, or any other software or app. Sometimes I try to go a step further by mentioning I added effects when writing in this blog. I do not want to confuse anyone.
A couple of other thoughts on manipulating photos.
In a perfect world, the goal should be to to produce photos straight out of the camera that do not need much work or adjustments. That way you can spend much more time actually creating and taking photographs than you do correcting them on your computer or in your darkroom.
That being said, I enjoy reimagining photos with my favorite softwares, but no matter how well they turn out, I would never equivocate that to creating a memorable image using only my Nikon.
A final thought: even the photos that are jazzed up in Photoshop must have a foundation of strong design, lighting and color. Building on a photo that does not have these fundamentals would be like building your house on quicksand, its not going to work, never… ever!
Thanks so much for tuning in and reading along today.
I would love to know your thoughts on when does a photo stop being a photo. Please feel free to drop a note in the comment box below.
- 18 Incredible Photo Manipulations by Erik Johansson (theultralinx.com)
- Photo manipulation… deal with it? (modernlifethroughsocialmedia.wordpress.com)
- Surreal Photo Manipulations by Caras Ionut (thisiscolossal.com)
- Best Soft to Do Photo Manipulation (clippingmaskasiaseo.wordpress.com)
- Photo Manipulation (cxc096.wordpress.com)
- abstract (greigkay.wordpress.com)
- How Kickstarter Fundraising Turned Into A Marketing Campaign For Digital Silver Imaging (forbes.com)