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  1. #1
    Dan Henderson's Avatar
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    "Photographs" vs. "Images"

    I am not anti-digital and this is not an anti-digital rant. But I heard what I thought was a remarkable statement on the Today show. They had a story about major retouching done to cover photographs, centering around a recent Redbook cover of Faith Hill (like she needs to be retouched!) Anyway, the editor of Redbook said, and I quote as closely as possible, "they are not really photographs. They are images."

    I recently thought about making a concerted effort to call analog pictures "photographs," and digital pictures "images," then decided I was being too anal about the whole thing. After hearing the editor's comment, maybe my thought was not half-baked.


    web site: Dan Henderson, Photographer.com

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    I am not anti-digital. I am pro-film.

  2. #2
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Even before digital, there would be major retouching on any sort of cover photo like that.

    I think of a photograph as an object on paper, and an image as a picture in the mind.
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  3. #3
    Sirius Glass's Avatar
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    When I worked at Kodak all photographs were images. However not all images were photographs. The term images referred to electro-optical data as well as photographs.

    Kodak was in the image collection and image processing industry, no longer only in the photographic collection and processing industry [including the medical radiographic field].

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    I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.

  4. #4
    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    I saw that same vapid and shallow segment this morning as well, and found that comment so typical of magazine editors.

    It's been my experience that magazine editors view the cover as an advertisement, and not part of the editorial content of the magazine. A distinction, I think, that is frankly lost on readers. There seems to be very little to distinguish editorial from advertising in any media, because it all comes down the idea of "image".

    Of course, they all seemed to miss another point... that altering photographs is lousy for your credibility, but stars who sit for cover shoots just want to "look good", and who cares their own reputation or what sort of message they are sending... it is all "image" after all.

    Though, frankly, she looks quite lovely in the unaltered image... except her hand getting cut off at the wrist. What's up with that?

    Well, "image" is everything, I suppose, but it pisses me off, and I don't buy women's magazines much anymore because I hate to look at all that fakery designed to make me covet more crap.

    As to the OP's question, I personally prefer photograph for my own work, as I think the word image is too much of a catchall phrase for all sorts of mediums.
    Last edited by SuzanneR; 07-23-2007 at 11:01 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: Boy, did I go off topic... figured I'd respond to the OP.

  5. #5
    jovo's Avatar
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    It's a point that I think MAS made (perhaps on this forum, I don't recall exactly
    ), that the correct word for 'photograph' is 'photograph' and not 'image' I choose to write 'image' to keep from over using 'photograph', but only after initially using it. I'm bothered far less by 'image' than by 'capture' which is what the digi folks use a lot. It's odd how the term 'picture' seems to be somewhat slighted as if it only denotes a record and wouldn't apply to an abstraction for example.
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  6. #6
    Digidurst's Avatar
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    I could not agree more, Suzanne!

    As for the whole retouching thing, I hate it. Not that anybody is banging down my door to have me sit for magazine covers. But I would not want my portrait to be messed with; I would prefer to look like myself. The only exception being the retouching of something not usually there like a pimple. Beyond that, no way!

  7. #7
    copake_ham's Avatar
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    This does bring up an interesting distinction to ponder. It may well be that the editor of the mag considered the original untouched picture to be a "photograph" whether shot on film or digitally. He then, arguably, advised making certain "corrections" to the shot; thereby rendering the result an "image".

    It is interesting that we use the word "image" to define the intangible representation of someone (e.g. "She wanted to project the right image when she gave her acceptance speech for it would set the tone of her campaign.") even as we also use it to describe a pictorial representation of a person.

    And let's not forget that image and imagination share the same root.

    Then there is the dilemma of whether an analogy for "film photography" is to use the term "analog image capture"?

  8. #8

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    I like 'photograph' for 'photograph.' I do use 'image' to explain the size on the paper this it is printed on. A lot of people are too vain when it comes to having their picture taking. Gotta have photoshop or whatever is available to make them look perfect. I would agree get rid of the pimple, one or two hairs over the eye and there might be some other exceptions. And yes, using photograph over and over in a paragraph can be over kill but it is correct.

    You all have a nice day. It is sunny, light breeze, and cool in Bowie, MD. And my AC is off which is very nice.

  9. #9
    bill schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jovo View Post
    I choose to write 'image' to keep from over using 'photograph', but only after initially using it.
    I do the same thing John. I've also thought of "image" as being more appropriate for describing a photograph on a monitor. As in David's take, I consider a "photograph" to be something printed on paper... something I can hold in my hand. However, I admit to using them both pretty frequently.

    As for the retouching of photos to "improve" the image of celebs and others, I agree completely with Suzzane and Dan. An unaltered Faith Hill is just fine with me.

  10. #10
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FirePhoto View Post
    I am not anti-digital and this is not an anti-digital rant. But I heard what I thought was a remarkable statement on the Today show. They had a story about major retouching done to cover photographs, centering around a recent Redbook cover of Faith Hill (like she needs to be retouched!) Anyway, the editor of Redbook said, and I quote as closely as possible, "they are not really photographs. They are images."

    I recently thought about making a concerted effort to call analog pictures "photographs," and digital pictures "images," then decided I was being too anal about the whole thing. After hearing the editor's comment, maybe my thought was not half-baked.
    Still feeling anxious about the essence of photography? Ah yes, the old "photo is accurate, images are anything but" syndrome that has been reignited by digital. It's rather sad that no digital images are accurate anymore. Why, just the other day, I couldn't believe that my brother's hair looked pink after I took a digital picture of him. It SO stopped being a photo, like it was totally innacurate.

    Ponder the following fact: an image, like a drawing, or a painting, can actually be more precise than a photograph. Guess there's a reason why composite portraits are actually useful, no?

    IMO you are mixing together the issue of retouching with that of digital. Retouching is the crux of the photo/image distinction, not digital.
    Using film since before it was hip.


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