A few years ago photographer Alain Briot did an article for the Luminous Landscape titled, “Just Say Yes” as a way of answering this question. The thing of it is, the answer is ‘yes’ for everyone, but a lot of people don’t seem to think so. Thought I’d write a short (for me) blog post about it. To begin with, we’d best get that word ‘manipulate‘ out of the way. From Dictionary.com:
verb (used with object), -lat·ed, -lat·ing.
- to manage or influence skillfully, especially in an unfair manner: to manipulate people’s feelings.
- to handle, manage, or use, especially with skill, in some process of treatment or performance: to manipulate a large tractor.
- to adapt or change (accounts, figures, etc.) to suit one’s purpose or advantage.
- Medicine/Medical . to examine or treat by skillful use of the hands, as in palpation, reduction of dislocations, or changing the position of a fetus.
See, that’s not so bad. If you asked the average photographer whether or not s/he is able to ‘handle, manage, or use‘ his or her camera, ‘especially with skill‘, I don’t think they’d take offense. Still, somewhere along the way the idea of manipulating one’s images has taken a wrong turn. There are a couple of reasons for this, I think. One is the general idea that photographs (unlike paintings or drawings) represent ‘reality’. If a photograph is seen not to represent some form of reality, people can take offense to this. The other is that programs like Photoshop allow those with the skill to create graphic manipulations that have no bearing on ‘reality’ at all. Continue Reading →