Is nothing sacred anymore? First a mention of stripping the Monday Post of its “regular” status. Then this sacrilegious title. And all in defense of a sinful photographic activity : digital manipulation.
The puritan attitude of many juries and critics of photography has always been a source of irritation to me (minor irritation, more like a itch). Because photography is the recording of a scene rather than a from-scratch rendering on a piece of canvas, it somehow has to be truthful and editing-free. I don’t have time in this Monday Quickie to enumerate all the reasons for which this feels absurd to me, but here are some of the major ones :
Nothing I haven’t already written on this blog, but it was all brought back to life by this PetaPixel article : How to Edit Photos like Steve McCurry: The Art of Removing Distractions.
The article essentially presents examples of harmless editing and reasons for doing so (for those unaware of Steve McCurry’s bad rap for digital editing, the article also points you to a recap). In a nutshell, the elimination of visual distractions in order to come closer to fine art photography. From the conclusion : “Removing distractions is one of the best ways to keep the attention on your subject, and polish an image to fine art status.”
The interesting thing is that while I agree with the premise entirely (Removing distractions is one of the best ways to keep the attention on your subject), the edits show in the article are not those I would have performed myself. A polished look is one thing, but a story is far more important. My rule would be : edit the photograph so as to tell the story that reflects your perception of the scene. Imperfections and distractions might actually come in handy for that.
So what does that mean ?
To each his de profundis mentis own, that’s what it means. Editing would be cheating if it led from one reality to a universally accepted ideal. It don’t. It merely reflects the personal preferences of an author. Not even Recep Tayyip Trumputin has been bold enough (yet) to attempt to wipe away our personal mental preferences. Are we (the photographic community) going to self-inject the kallocaine and self-inflict that mutilation to our creativity ?
Digital Manipulation Rules, OK !