On the 11th of February 2012 “The daily Petapixel” quoted from an article by Ben Long on CreativePro where he states that “all photos are manipulated” (see complete petapixel article below).
“Photography author Ben Long has a thought-provoking article over at CreativePro in which he argues that “all photos are manipulated” and that “there is no such thing as absolute truth in photography”: All images are Photoshopped. Or Lightroomed, or iPhoto’d, or dodged, burned, re-touched, cross-processed, developed with more or less agitation in the tank, at warmer or cooler temperatures, and so on and so forth. This has been true since the beginning of photography. Understanding the representational nature of photography will help you take better pictures because you’ll better understand how to exploit the strengths and weaknesses of the medium. But perhaps more importantly, it’s important to understand that all images are manipulated. Still photos are the dominant communication medium used for everything from entertainment to artistic expression, journalism to sales. Becoming a more informed, understanding viewer will make it easier to understand when and whether there’s any “truth” in the images put before you.” (PetaPixel 11th Feb. 2012)
When reading Ben Long’s whole article on http://www.creativepro.com/article/all-photos-are-manipulated it looks like some terminology got mixed up creating confusion, at least for myself. Ben Long quotes people asking him, if his photographs were photoshopped, meaning as much as manipulated and the person who asks that wants to know, if the image is true. He answers that yes, all photos are edited and manipulated. I think here language leads to confusion. In the first place, if manipulating images is equal to photoshopping images not all photographs are manipulated, because not all photos are photoshopped. If manipulating images is equal to images are always carrying the photographers personal connection to what he/she sees, yes in this case all photographs are manipulated.
Also the word “truth” is a sensitive one. The word “truth” is a philosophical term. There is nothing like an absolute truth, there is only relative truth, an always-changing truth. Remember the times when people thought that the earth is a disk. One day they found out that the sailor wouldn’t fall of the disk by sailing to the west. He eventually arrived back where he started and it was proved that the world is a globe. There are every day new examples of how “more truth” is seen and understood in any part of life. So the word truth in connection with the question, if an image was manipulated/photoshpped/edited doesn’t really fit. The word “genuine” might be the better choice. Isn’t that what the people want to know when they ask about photographs? Is this photo genuine? not tempered with? just as it was taken?
For what reason does this question annoy photographers? Because none of their photos is genuine anymore? All are photoshopped? Don’t get annoyed, see it as an opportunity to rethink things in photography.
I agree that most of the published photos are photoshopped nowadays. They look pretty much all the same as if one day one photo won a completion and now everybody thinks that this must be the standard and then they try to copy this kind of “standard” in order to receive recognition and awards. But where does that lead photography to when all photographers like lemmings follow that route to the cliff? Well, they will fall off the photography edge and become photoshoppers. Isn’t it about time to distinguish these two crafts of art? There are photographers and there are photoshoppers and both are accepted art forms. Wouldn’t that be more clear and genuine for the artists and the public? The photographers are the one with the genuine photographs and the photoshoppers are the one with the edited/photoshopped artwork, maybe called “artEdimage”.
Look at the winning photo of the World Press Photo 2012. The winning image was once a photo before it became a photoshop artwork, inspired by old master paintings. Isn’t it confusing that this artwork is called a “photo”?
To make it easier for all of us, the artists, the public and the juries, lets start seeing photography as photography and photoshop as its own art form. Lets talk about photographers and photoshoppers and lets be conscious that a lot of philosophy and psychology is touched by art and lets not confuse it.
(attached image is a photograph, taken by a photographer)