Tim's getting slammed pretty unfairly. We've got lots of people making assumptions about what Tim is saying and bringing up straw arguments.
The image he is referring to is immediately questionable in the contest format. Who cares about this discussion? Nat Geo. It's their contest some of us are talking about here. And from their site:
"The world is already full of visual artifice, and we don’t want the National Geographic Photo Contest to add to it. We want to see the world through your eyes, not the tools of Photoshop."
The debate is tiring? Click elsewhere.
The word "Photography" have had many definitions over the centuries. It will continually change. It all comes down to us accepting the definition. It all semantics. I try not to be too dogmatic about photography. I know some pros that have done photography for over 3 decades and they swore off film, while some young new comers to photography have discovered the mystery and magic if film. How we shoot and what we shoot is a state of mind. It's my hope that my hope that my mind will remain open as I get older. There lies the challenge.
Bill, the way I read the original post is that this kind of manipulated works, as artistic as they can be, cannot be called "photographs", because they are "fake". The reference to the NG photo contest seemed to me a passing reference to exemplify the kind of pictures over which debate is proposed.
Without "slamming" anybody, some of us expressed the view that up to a certain extent photography has always been "fake" and, although new digital techniques have pushed the boundaries of "forgery" further, there is an obvious difficulty in drawing a line between "photography" and "something else".
I then personally expressed the opinion that to me the line is in the sincerity of the photographer regarding the technique used. If you lie regarding the technique, you make a fake. If you don't, you don't. To me a photomontage has always been "photography" and the dying legionnaire photographed by Capa supposedly while being hit by enemy fire has always stinked as "fake".
I hope it was not me that you detected "slamming" the OP as it certainly was not my intention.
To be frank, this thread has become the epitomy of its own title. We have gone from ethical into the realms of quivelling over the semantics of just what constitutes the meaning of fake.
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“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
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I think that's just one way of looking at it.
Originally Posted by Maris
I agree with the "Who cares?" mentality of looking at it, NOT necessarily within the context that "photography and its meaning doesn't matter" but just that "I don't care what other people think it is [for]." An award winning novelist can right a darn good novel without caring what I (or anyone else) personally thinks of novel writing.
The other thing I think that gets overlooked is that photography can be used as a means to other artistic expressions. IMHO, people who are using photography (as a step/springboard) to produce work that looks more-so computer generated (or whatever) have an artistic right to their own point of view about photography (e.g,. Erik Almas not only shoots old school, large format style but he also produces work that looks more like graphic art). Where any individual person wants to take their photography is their business. And, I don't think "ideological/semantic wars" need to break out just because everyone has their own view of what photography should be.
I just think my work (and everyone else's) should speak for itself, without the need for battles about definitions, categorizations, and abstract explanations. I have a sense of what photography means to me, and whether or not anyone else agrees with that sense is quite irrelevant.
Last edited by Brandon D.; 11-30-2010 at 11:30 PM. Click to view previous post history.
30 Nov 2010
Originally Posted by chriscrawfordphoto
I completely agree! Thank you Chris for your thoughtful and informative comments in this thread.
I don't think it is problematic, or too much to ask, for people to make meaningful semantic differences between digital imaging products and film imaging products. Where the gray area comes up is when the image is hybrid - do you call it a digital image if it is in fact a platinum print, but it was made from a digitally produced negative which was made from an in-camera film original that was manipulated? From a digitally produced negative that was made from a digital capture that was NOT manipulated? A C-print that was digitally enlarged from a film negative? An inkjet from a scan of a film negative? and so on...
I do think there is an honesty factor that needs to be injected when it comes to describing prints specifically - DO NOT try to pass off an inkjet as a platinum print or a gum bichromate or a silver gelatin print. There is a very good reason for this - all those types of print require different archival methods for handling: if someone believes that for example an inkjet print is in fact a platinum print, and forty years later the print develops a problem that requires archival treatment, it is perfectly ok to get water on an actual platinum print, but the pigment image will dissolve right off the page under the same treatment. Requesting honesty in this labeling is not bashing - it is a meaningful distinction with significant ramifications for the original buyer and all subsequent owners of the print. It is not a per-se value judgement - that should be left up to the viewer and buyer of the image, but they should also be given full and accurate information with which to make that judgement.
I value an inkjet differently than a c-print than a silver gelatin enlargement than an albumen print than a platinum print than a gum bichromate because each has their own aesthetic qualities and each requires a different kind and amount of labor to make. That distinction is my distinction to make, and my specific values for each will not be the same as the next persons.
You value an inkjet print? I know I came back to film in large part because I haven't been satisfied with any inkjet prints I could make from either my digital or my scanned film work.
In the above list we all have a quite clear idea if what some of those things are, and as you move down the list it gets foggy, that is the problem, not how people are making images, but how present language handles defining them.
We have had in some cases thousands of years to define some of these things and but a handful of years to define others. Until language catches up this battle will rage on, I would like to propose that we start calling images burned onto an emulsion with light Photographs, and images captured electronically Photos, if you change an image it should probably be called a HDR Photo, or a Digital Image depending on how it was edited.
As for are these people cheating somehow, I see it as using the tools available to produce what they want the viewer to see. This altering of images is done in all forms of image based art, that is what you are trying to do whenever you take a photograph and bring it into a form for viewing. Unless you are trying to document something as it truly is you are altering the image somehow, be it with lighting, angle, depth of field, or zoom, you alter reality all the time with the tools you have available to you.
Lets define these things so we can understand what they are, not complain about them.
"Would you like it if someone that painted in oils told you that you were not making portraits because you were using a camera?"
"Shouldn't it be more about the joy of producing and viewing the photo than what you paid for the camera?"