Harold Merklinger over at Luminous Landscape has an interesting article titled “The Game of Photography — What Are the Rules?”
It’s about whether digital manipulation is cheating or acceptable photography. He makes an excellent point about the difference between amateur and professional photographers. As an amateur photographer, you follow no rules except your own. So, if you digitally manipulate a picture and the end result gives you great pleasure, then why not? [No rules to break = no cheating.] On the other hand, a professional photographer (as in one who does it for a living) must follow the client’s rules. [Photojournalism, for example, accepts absolutely no digital manipulation of a news photo; they break the rules, they cheat.]
Though I understand and agree overall with his reasoning, I still am left wondering: when does one leave post processing and starts to engage in digital manipulation? When does photography end and digital painting starts? I’ve seen beautiful works of art where the artist has painted on a photograph. Is the end result a photograph or a painting? The end result is art, but [obviously] not a photograph anymore. Likewise, I am of the opinion that as soon as one starts cloning part of a photo, removing elements one deems extraneous, adding colors, moving elements… one is leaving the world of photography and entering a related world, still producing beautiful works of art.
I still struggle with this and find it difficult to call the end result of a digitally manipulated image a “photograph.” But I don’t feel there is anything wrong in digital manipulation if you own up to it; you are not cheating. You are the artist, you can choose your medium and manipulate it however you want. What do you think?
Read the article at: Luminous Landscape.