Having been pursuing the “photography business” for less than a year, I would consider myself a newbie. I make no apologies for that, because I feel like I’ve always been able to follow the lead of my mentors well, and I am quick to learn from my mistakes. However, its because I’m learning from my mentors that I’m having an issue.
One of the biggest complaints that I hear from people in the business is that with the availability of Photoshop and other image-editing software (both in-camera and in post-processing), “anyone can produce great photos.” They note that creative vision is becoming less and less common, and its being replaced with the “I’ll fix it later” mentality. I definitely see this (look around Flickr and you will too), and to some extent I’m guilty of snapping a photo, knowing that I’ll be cloning something out in post. You probably do too.
My issue, then, isn’t with my mentors, but with myself. How much can I justify altering a mediocre photo to make a good photo and still be okay with it?
Take for example this image I’ve recently reprocessed from the Fisher Towers:
My problem with this shot isn’t the harsh light, or the fact that its not at all representative of how pretty the Fisher Towers can be. Its that I really want to like it. But, its just mediocre. Others on a Naturescapes.net forum recently agreed that its definitely not a wall-hanger. But, when I convert the image to black and white, that harsh light is suddenly working its magic.
The image still won’t win any contests, but its drastically improved. So, by digital manipulation, I converted a mediocre image into a better one. The problem I have with this is that I didn’t set out to make black and white images that day. Maybe I’ve just over-analyzed this.
I ask you, though: where does the creative process stop? I have a feeling most will answer indicating that for them its a continuum, but where is the line drawn? Knowing that I didn’t set out to make black and white images that day, are you okay with my displaying this as art?
I’d love to know your thoughts!