Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tech Talk Tuesday - Are You a PHOTOSNOB?

As noted in my last Tech Talk Tuesday, we all have our own preferences and personal style of photography, just as we do with other art forms, such as painting.  In the past decade photography has evolved and diversified rapidly into many new and wonderful art styles.  In my opinion, we have a responsibility to NOT be 'photosnobs'.  By that I mean, our own preferences should not be seen as superior, or of greater value than someone else's preferences......only different!

This week I've encountered several situations where photographs and/or photographers were judged solely on how their images were produced, not on the merit of the images themselves.  In other words, the process was viewed as more important than the result. 

For example, one might think the work of a photographer who composites several images into one shot, or who uses focus stacking to create a sharper image, or who digitally creates a beautiful 'painterly' look to a photo, is superior because that photographer has developed exceptional skills over and above the basic photography skills necessary to produce a traditional SOOTC image.  They view their computer and editing expertise as advanced photography processing skills.

In the other camp, the SOOTC shooter may think of himself as a purist, and he believes 'getting it right in the camera' and using traditional techniques should be the only way to create 'real' photography that holds the most value.  He may feel his photography skills are superior because he thinks the digital photographer is cheating or making up for poor photography skills by fixing bad photos.

In my opinion, both of these extreme attitudes show disrespect for personal artistic expression.  In my mind, this would be like saying the painter who uses something he sees with his eyes as his inspiration, is better than a painter who uses something he sees in his mind as his inspiration!  Ultimately, it's the end result on canvas that matters!

Consider the following.  You might be a 'photosnob' if:
*  You feel the need to ask a photographer if his image is edited. 
*  You tend to be critical of certain photo and editing techniques or methods used by digital photographers today.
*  You think that how a photo or image is made, does affect its intrinsic value.
*  You think that photographers who do not use Photoshop or other computer editing programs are old fashioned and are afraid to learn new skills.
*  You have changed your opinion or were disappointed in a photo you initially admired, when you found out it was produced in a way you think is unacceptable.

After many years as a photographer, (first traditional, now traditional and digital), I try to keep what I feel is a healthy balance between my 'in the field' skills, (just me and my camera), and my 'in the digital darkroom' skills, (just me and my computer).  There are many photographers I admire.  Some of my favorite photographers produce images that are minimally edited, and some produce images that are way over the top and blatantly manipulated.  I love them all!  I know the majority of the photos I love have been processed, some in traditional ways and others with modern technology, but often it is impossible for me to tell how they were edited, or how little or how much.  I don't know, I don't ask, nor do I care, because for me: 

 The beauty is in the image, regardless of how it was produced!!


To check your 'photosnob' meter,  decide how you feel about the following photo then answer the questions below:

*  Do you love this photo?
*  Does this photo not appeal to you?
*  Does it look like a SOOTC shot?
*  Does it look like a composite or heavily edited image?
*  Would you like it less if I told you I added the background?
*  Would you like it more if I told you I added the background?
*  Would it be easier to decide if you liked it if I showed you the 'before' shot to compare?
*  Do you want to know if I added the background?
*  Do you like it less because the background makes it look more like a painting than a traditional photograph?
*  Do you think I shouldn't call it a 'photograph' because I digitally manipulated the SOOTC original and didn't tell anyone? 

Only two of the above questions are valid to me.  Guess which ones!!!  
If you guessed the first two, you are right.  These are the only questions that determine if your personal preference is based on how you feel about the image itself, and not on any prejudice about how it was produced.

(All right, a few of you might actually be curious to know if this is a SOOTC shot, or if I added the background from a second exposure in post processing.  Keep scrolling down and you'll find the answer.)


This is a SOOTC shot, with a slight crop.