The Art of Photography

At a gallery reception where I was featured artist, I was asked by several people how I achieved some of the effects in the photographs that were on display.  I indicated that I used Photoshop.  One of the people who heard my response was a bit surprised.  She pointed to one photo in particular and asked what I had done.   I said that I had added clouds to that shot and erased some people that, in the original, were off to one side.  She asked me, “isn’t that cheating?”  I then asked her, if she was painting a landscape that she was looking at, and decided to add clouds on the horizon, and, perhaps a small boat on the water, wouldn’t that be cheating?  She said that was different because she was creating the painting.  To me this is the difference between the techniques of photography and the art of photography.

If your goal is to capture a moment in history, to record an event, or to document a second in time, then, yes: altering the photograph would be cheating, because you’re trying to present something that has been modified as if it actually looked and happened the way it appears.  But even so-called historical photographs are altered.  Lighter areas are burned in, darker areas are dodged out, and images are cropped.  Why?  To make the photograph have a greater impact, or to make the image sharper, or to make a specific statement.  On the other hand, if your goal is to create something that is beautiful, that stirs emotion or captures someone’s imagination, then in that respect, a photograph is no different than a painting.

In the section I’ve labeled, “Artistic Renditions” I’ve included some photographs that are not intended to record an event for posterity.  They are intended to stir imagination, to evoke an emotional response, or to just be nice to look at.  And, if you can’t tell – none of these images originally looked like they are presented here.

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