Last month I had the good fortune to attend one of John Shaw’s 2-day seminars on digital photography and technique. It was a very thought-provoking 2 days for me. As an aside, for a static type experience, I would highly recommend it on the “bang for the buck” scale. John was very open to questions during the seminar (an in some cases, very patient with some of the questions/questioners).
One exchange resonated with me. When asked his opinion about a certain film’s closeness to “realistic color,” his instant retort was: “I could care less!”
With all the debates (on line and off) about realism and manipulation in the digital age, this one hit home for me. Some years back, an instructor in a photo class made the comment that serious photographers do not “take” photographs–we “make” them. I couldn’t agree more with both of these teachers.
I understand there is a place for “reality” in photojournalism and perhaps in scientific photography. But I also appreciate how perception and the limitations of the equipment and media make any absolute “reality” difficult if not impossible.
My own vision is to create what looks good to me from the scene or subject before me. I am not suggesting that we take a blank page in Photoshop and make things up. But colors, composition, cropping and perspective, and yes, even the judicious “photoshopping” (the verb) of an image is perfectly acceptable in my opinion in “making” the image I want the viewer to “see.”
I don’t see this as inconsistent with integrity. Most of my work leans toward “art” and I am not representing otherwise. Are my photos “manipulated?” Yes. Does that bother me? Not in the least.