It's interesting. I think my first realization of the whole "alteration-slash-manipulation-thing" started from that OJ Simpson-Time-Magazine-ordeal
. I mean
that was graphics staff and art director and not photographer. But
I remember when that magazine cover was on the stands. I thought it made "ole Juice" look way more ominous.
Odd thing about my first seeing that cover? Fucking Fred Goldman had just passed me in the vegetable section. Goldman was the dad of Ron Goldman, one of the victims of that double murder.
The next instance of manipulation which "got me" was the whole page one Los Angeles Times debacle by their staff photographer, Walski
And I remember getting the requisite mass emails from photo editors talking about what was done by the Times shooter and how we should never do anything like that.
Walski appears to have moved to Colorado and of the services offered on his website the one which made me fall onto the floor laughing was, "
Custom Printing/Custom PhotoShop."
I think if a photo states "Photo Montage," then, cool, okay, I know what I'm looking at.
But presenting that as reality
although I'm positive there were more which I missed or just didn't care about paying attention to
was when the Lebanon-Israel thing broke out. I think that Adnan Hajj and his HEAVILY doctored photos moved to Reuters wire
are what really made me take notice.
Blackberries were buzzing and warm to the touch with all of us giving Reuters photographers shit.
All in good fun.
I mean I have personal friends who made photos in that particular incursion (?) or whatever the hell the Lebanon-Israel thing was
they didn't need to manipulate to make outstanding representations of the destruction.
If you have ever shot for a wire service, you'll know that you move your photos to the ftp and then an editor checks them out (e.g., the actual photo itself, correct captioning information, etc.) and physically moves them to "the wire."
Shouldn't they have seen the manipulation? Trained personnel who look at thousands of photos per day?
Yeah, I know
they look at thousands of photos
I'm sure some manipulations of reality could slip through.
I've heard the stories from shooters about the respective desks now. Questioning contrast. Questioning colour. Questioning dodge and burn activity.
It's a different world now.
I come from the mindset that "if it weren't created in-camera, it ain't shit."
That's why when I see examples of "photographs" (excuse me whilst I choke) on dA
on other photo sites where people post "their work"
I laugh. I know by looking at a finished file if it were severely underexposed and bumped up or severely overexposed and they pump the contrast and make it a b/w so that it "looks cool."
What tool does a photographer use to make photographs?
Yeah, a fucking camera.
Do you need that tool to be a visual artist?
Can't, if you're a visual artist, you just render something? Render something from nothing?
Do you need a camera to be a visual artist? Is that your primary tool?
I believe the primary tool of a visual artist is a computer.
Yeah, yeah, yeah
some of you who've never stepped in a darkroom like to say, "you can do this" or "you can do that" in a darkroom.
If that pertains to making up for problems with film stock or the developing, sure.
I think we've all had a frame. A great fucking frame. But for one reason or another it was fucked.
We used to just say, "whatever
next time. I learned."
that same frame
taken by someone else
they use some judicious lasso work, some layers, some whatever they do
and they make that frame "acceptable."
Sometimes people learned by those mistakes.
Sometimes those people thought about "that frame that got away" and learned how to compose and expose by thinking about what they did wrong.
they chimp the photo on the back of a camera.
Now they take the wasted frame and
"make it all nice" with judicious PhotoShopping.
I remember when a friend of mine was up for a great staff position although I feel he could make it as a freelancer and make three times what they pay him and the Global Photo Editor wanted several gigs of RAW-out-of-the-camera files.
Ya' know why?
A raw-untouched-file says a lot about someone.
So does the EXIF.
It's really one thing to be able to make cool compositions.
It's really another to make kick-ass exposures based on some element of the frame complimentary to the overall composition.
Even if you're using auto-something to help you with exposure and you know composition pretty well
it's still "not there" in the overall scheme.
I haven't seen an in-camera meter yet which can't be fooled.
My eyes and brain can't be fooled.
Which is why I use manual.
What's funny is that someone will inevitably have a camera problem and ask me, "what the hell? Why isn't this working?"
I immediately look at the mode. If it's on M, I'm pretty nice. If it's on AV/TV, depending on their attitude and what I think about them, I'll help out. If it's on P, I just claim to not know.
Because if you're on P, you probably have no fucking clue what the relationship between f/stop and shutter speed is all about. And
you're probably in my way.
There's this guy and let me tell you he thinks he is the best photographer in a certain city and he asked why his IR-assist on his flash won't work. Not only did he have the focus on AI which negates the IR of a flash but his camera was on P. Anyone who claims to be the best photographer which is never the case in a certain city
should know a bit better.
I was feeling ultra-altruistic that night and set his camera to where it needed to be.
Manipulation of the truth whether that is making a shit photo a better photo or making yourself looking like a king-stud-photog when you aren't if it weren't for PhotoShop is just wrong. Whether you're a photojournalist or any other kind of photographer. Why should there be a difference in "how much manipulation is tolerated" depending on what kind of photographer you are? If you do minor manipulations for tone and contrast or levels, cool. If you're doing a shitload of steps to make your photo look cool, well, I'm not with ya'.
I'd kinda forgotten about the Walski and Reuters thing until the Allan Detrich debacle showed it's legs
. Sorry. I thought it was funny. But come on
this guy was a Pulitzer finalist. And, I'm sorry that he had to resign
his position at his paper. That sucks. I feel bad for him. His family. I really do.
I don't feel bad for Don Imus, though.
Whatever Detrich claims to have happened
I'd love to believe someone with a multi-year career as a PJ
one situation like this
the eyes to the world
can't really be trusted.
And these days
whether it's a sunset or landscape in some far off locale of which I'll probably never see
but have seen
because of the Internet
you are my eyes to things I would have never seen.
Kinda like Discovery's Planet Earth
series. There are things I would have never seen if it weren't for a nice HDTV connection on a 42" plasma
shot by guys who were out to "show the truth of the Earth."
How are we any different from each other? You are my eyes for certain things in your part of the world and I am the eyes of the world for many who'll never get to go backstage or to some exotic locale.
Just so you know
just picking up a digi-cam and making photos
and then severely manipulating them so that they're "cool"
does not make you a photographer.
A photographer has exposed millions of frames. Perhaps only a few hundred thousand.
A photographer makes the photograph in-camera.
A photographer's primary tool is a camera.
Not a computer.
I hate writing something and then stopping and not finishing it.
Hope you're all well and thanks for all of the comments on the last couple diatribes!
Have a great weekend.
I get to work.
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