Popular Photography Joins Ranks to Damage Photo Industry March 31 2010, 0 Comments

This past month Popular Photography magazine joined the ranks of those determined to destroy the true art of photography by holding a “photography” contest and then declaring those who created computer generated images as the winners.

Let’s clarify. In order to have a legitimate photography contest, entries must be photographs. A photograph is a picture of a subject, captured when using a camera. A camera is a device used to commit some subject matter to negative film, reversal film, a scan film, or digital memory card. The captured image is then processed onto paper through use of the traditional darkroom or the digital darkroom. The understanding and use of f-stops, shutter speeds, color temperature, basic principles of light, and composition are all required in order to capture a successful photograph. I have checked for grins and giggles and found not one text that defines a photograph as an image summoned in the mind and then created through the use of a piece of software.

The New York Times made a naive attempt to compare what one does in a digital darkroom to that of a traditional darkroom. While well intended, a trained photographer understands that it takes years to develop the skills needed in a traditional darkroom. The art of the chemical darkroom is what Ansel Adams is so famous for. While I do understand how digital technology has made processing in many cases an easier task, it is not at all the same process as chemical processing. Think about it. With digital processing one doesn’t have to control chemical mixes, temperatures, baths, timing. Further, the list of technical skills under an enlarger goes on and on…

I indeed appreciate the many values of the digital darkroom. Don’t misunderstand. But there is a clear difference between understanding photography, what photography is, its true purpose and the now ramped misrepresentation in imaging. I guarantee you the intended purpose of photography is not misleading people with a made up image. Photography is meant to document what is. When I am running an image through processing, if I can’t process a test print in ten minutes, then I look to see what I might have done wrong. Was my exposure off by more than half a stop? Was the color temperature set incorrectly? Photoshop was not made to fix bad photography or to mislead people with false images, it was created, from my perspective, to be the next technological step in making processing faster, more accessible and less expensive.

Photography has been been damaged beyond repair by those who accept the falsehoods created by the media, by those who couldn’t set an f-stop and shutter speed combination to save their lives, yet they call themselves “photographers,” and by the marketing community who just wants to sell a product or an image no matter the cost, even if they are selling lies.