When does it stop being a photograph?




Some people have very strong views about retouching and working on your picture in Photoshop. They will say that, after a certain point, it is no longer a photograph. It seems to me though that it is very difficult to draw that line between one thing and the other, whatever the other might be. How much after work should we be ‘allowed’ to do? The second of the two images on the left is obviously no longer a photograph. I traced the original in Adobe Illustrator and drew the whole thing, there is nothing left of the original (the observant among you will notice that I also moved the player upwards a little bit to make it look more as if he was about to score). But what about all the different ways that we now manipulate images, using filters, retouching brushes and all the other ‘goodies’ at our disposal?

basketball player drawing

I had not given this question much thought until recently, I personally am happy to use any means at my disposal to produce an image, if you don’t want to call it a photograph any more then that’s OK with me. Recently though, a few posts on the forum and in the gallery have been quite emotional on the subject, saying that it is all wrong. We should only be permitted to do what was possible in the darkroom in the ‘good old days’ was one opinion, which was actually quite a lot if you had the time and the patience.

I can see the point in complaining about the portrayal of  women who are ‘too perfect’ in magazines, which does unfortunately help nurture inferiority complexes in the readers who want the same ‘perfection’ for themselves in real life. However it is very difficult to ‘put the genie back in the bottle’ now that these techniques are commonplace. I think that, rather than trying to ban such practices in the magazine industry, which as I said would be very difficult, it would be better to educate people by showing them how these tricks are done so that they would stop taking these images at face value. Everyone knows they are fake but it’s one thing talking about it and quite another seeing it done. All we need is a few brave celebrities who are willing to be ‘exposed’.

That’s all very well but what I’m talking about is the general photography that we hobbyists produce. Why should we not use all means at our disposal to make our pictures as good as we can? If we don’t like the tree in our shot where it is, what’s wrong with moving it? If we want a better sky in our landscape, why shouldn’t we drop one in?

When does it cease to be a photograph?

I’m sure you all have an opinion about this, so let’s hear from you, tell me what you think.

Source: http://geofflawrence.com/blog/?p=3951