Photography is Dead.
Photography is Dead – Perhaps we should move on from the famous remark “From today Painting is Dead attributed to the painter Paul Delaroche when confronted with the detailed wonder of the Daguerreotype.
Maybe it’s really time to state “Photography is Dead” instead
Of course, as a photographer I don’t believe that photography is dead but there’s no doubt that digital photography has made things different.
I think it’s mainly about colour.
Photographers have always manipulated images from burning in skies to replacing whole areas of pictures.
But it was only really possible in monochrome.
The only practical way to change a colour image was to use painting techniques like airbrushing.
Interestingly enough even digital retouching is often referred to in newspapers as airbrushing (perhaps newspapers is the wrong word as I’ve been reading online).
So where are we now and why does it matter to your every day photographer.
For one thing pictures of models with super smooth skin, tennis players with huge biceps, priests without their expensive watches, politicians with champagne flutes rather than beer glasses, aeroplanes with extra rockets and so on have lead to a view that the camera always lies.
I see this as not a photographic matter but one of honesty and integrity.
It has practical ramifications.
As a stock and editorial photographer I have to make it clear when I have manipulated an image.
Problem though is what is manipulation?
- I take a portrait and I see a blob of blurred colour in the background.
- I clone it out – is this manipulation?
I take two portraits.
- I like one better but the eye is closed.
- I take the eye from the other portrait and replace it.
Is this manipulation – is it dishonest?
And then of course it’s amazing how strongly people can feel, they really do believe that photography is dead.
A year or two ago I published a picture in Practical Photography which was a composite of two images.
I told the editor William Cheung what I had done.
When the picture was published the caption referred to my “Photoshop Expertise”.
Soon the angry response came.
I was clearly a cheat.
I was a bad photographer.
I had taken two bad photographs and tried to make something of them.
And most scathing of all, my imported sky had the wrong type of lighting.
Well here we go again and it’s more of a problem working from a RAW file.
A RAW file is often called a digital negative and has to be manipulated to get a decent picture.
But what sort of manipulation is acceptable.
changed the yellow to red
changed the sky
blurred the clouds
Of course it’s arbitrary. It could be not only red, but blue or green.
So, if you don’t like this sort of thing, you might think photography is dead.
My picture this week is of a Red Wall with Sky and Clouds.
My picture of the Red wall is here.