Do we take or make photos? Is our photography born in the field or on the desk?
Tough question asked increasingly frequently, with an rather deep dialogue attached.
But, let’s just unfold this puppy.. Let’s start by clarifying; What is photography?
See, since the first ever image was captured up to today, photography hasn’t changed. “Oh yes it has!” I hear you cry, but hear me out.. Hasn’t it always been, just the simple study & capture of light?
Forget the fluff.. just the fundamental act of photography.. in essence, ask yourself, what else is it?
Mobile phone, camera obscura, Sony a9, Brownie, RED… they all share this one fundamental.
They all simply capture and allow for the reproduction of light.
Let’s get to the crux.. do we make or DO WE take?
This question is built on an assumption. An assumption that there is a product. A thing we call a photo.
Did we make that thing or did we take that thing? So let’s acknowledge the product in this equation.
Next, it must be repeated, if you shot film when all we had was film, you know your negatives were processed. Each strip was adjusted in a laboratory. They were touched up & edited by a human.
While pros and enthusiasts built darkrooms to control their own post processing, the rest of us used mail order labs. Staffed by real humans who decided how our photo products would look.
Just make no mistake.. since the first images were shot, post processing has been a major part of the photo!
Dare I say; “We have always made photos and we always will!”
So what’s changed / changing?
The answer is simple, we have moved almost entirely from analogue film to digital data as our medium.
This shift has bought many benefits but also some very powerful threats!
You see, photography is a creative art to some. It is the production of work with much personal investment. Years spent learning light, swift interpretation of ever changing gear, then developed in such a way as to bring personality to your eye.
To insert human into the light – that’s a key component of photography.
Digital photography is epic! It is effortless, low-cost, high quality and available to the masses – there is really nothing to dislike! However, there is a cloud.. an overhanging whisper from the past, saying “beware“!
Not to get too dramatic but the threat is real..
There was a time when all furniture was made my hand, clothes were tailored, meals prepared with love.
Do we ever want to live in an era when we say, there was a time when photography was creative…
As tech puts increasingly powerful automated image processing tools in our hands we see another shift. A shift towards artificial photography – a new genre – a genre of “Replace my sky” or “Change to night”!
This is not photographic – it is graphic!
See, it gets blurry fast & opinions can be strong on where the division begins
Final note to simply complete the opening question; even an image taken on a mobile phone is dressed. The phone manufacturers decide on your colour range, the technology provides limits on light.
Any image captured on any device is processed… within the bounds of the technology we use and the determination of the manufacturers we choose.
All photographic images are made, they always have been & always will be…
I just try to keep it on the rails & true.
What’s your take on it? Would love to hear your view below..