As an artist it is very easy to get caught up in the politics of your craft. Popularity tends to drive this and before you know it sites completely chalked full off the same style of images fill the front page. When you enter into the realm of these popularity contests it becomes very easy to see if you fit in with the cool kids or simply do not. Since becoming a digital outlet, photography is no longer the pure and unadulterated realm it once was. It has blossomed into an industry of seemingly beautiful manipulations, composites and occasional originals. While some scoff at the notion of digital manipulations, the path for it has already been paved, and going back now is not even close to an option. We live in a world now where even photo journalists of the biggest news organizations in the world are being persecuted for falling prey to the necessity of perfecting the image rather than capturing that moment. As an artist this is okay, as a journalist it is up for discussion, but I can see how easy it is to fall into the desire of producing a cover image that is nearly perfect to the eye.
So where am I going with this? Wrong can be right, but there is also a time and a place for it.
To the digital artists trying to fit in with the big boys on the sites like 500px and so forth, it is an outreach, or so an admiration of the styles they have seen and learned from. We all know the Marc Adamus’ and Max Rive’s of the industry, and they are guilty too of composite images, manipulations and so forth. But this is okay. Artists sometimes see the scene they want to create and the hardware is simply not capable of producing the situation, colors, or even atmosphere of what they imagine and feel at the moment. The same can be said with the puritans. They simply want to capture what they see and feel in the moment, but maybe just maybe we all see the scene differently from one another…
The problem I see with manipulations and image purity is simply this. If we refrain from creating what we truly feel in that moment, then where is the creativity and art of photography anymore? For the manipulators, let the purists be purists. Let them be strung to the limitations of their hardware because that is what is real in their eyes and they have the right to that. And to the purists, let the dreamers dream. Not everyone sees life in the same eyes as the journalists or film shooter. Dreamers see the world with many different senses. Not only do they capture what they see, they try to add what they emotionally feel, smell and hare into a single frame or more. The difference is they adhere to different standard they have set in their mind. Art with limitations is a roadblock to advancement and growth in the industry. It becomes a catalyst to separate one photographer from another when it would all just be so simple to shoot the same things over and over again, and fall into a boring pit of commonality.
Art you see, is an expression of one’s self. You think Pablo Picasso didn’t encounter the same when he began. It was his separation that helped him grow into one of the most famous painters on the planet. If you look back through history it has always been the artists that differ to this internal vision that separate themselves from the pack. So to think photography doesn’t hold the same scenarios is just plain cynical. Seek a style to refresh and revitalize a saturated industry. Some do this for passion, and others for work. And what I have found is that those driven by the passion tend to separate quicker than the others. Rather than mocking that same style you see, to to absorb it and evolve it into a mixture of others. Rather than skimming to the top of the pool, emulsify it with new standards and generate your view of it through production.
I had an image recently shared by a couple of large photography platforms such as Shutterbug Magazine, National Geographic as well as the Discover channel. The image, while not a composite was a digital manipulation of how I viewed that scene at the moment. While most loved and adored the shot, I did strike a nerve with a few purists. Stating it was no longer photography, and that I should show them my RAW files and so forth. My argument is this, if it is not photography, where did the RAW file come from? If it wasn’t taken with my Nikon, how did the NEF file end up on my MacBook and in Photoshop? Simple, it is a photo, and it is a manipulation that I am very proud of. Rather than sticking to the script to meet the needs of everyone, I opened my mind, eyes and ears and created the scene as I saw it the moment I shot the photo. Knowing that I enjoy every second I look at the photo just proves to me that wrong can be right.
And with that a renaissance is born. Welcome back to my blog.