Monday, March 14, 2011

Purest vs Digital Art

I have been inspired to write this post today because of a debate I had with a good friend about the direction photography has taken since the digital revolution. And for anyone who loves taking photos - whether for work or pleasure - I'd love to hear your opinions!

I am curious to know the general consensus on the below statements:

1/ A 'Photographer' is defined as someone who takes pure photos, straight from the camera, with zero enhancements (other than color correction and exposure adjustments).

2/ A 'Digital Artist' is defined as someone who takes photos but digitally enhances them using computer software, therefore relinquishing their right to call themselves a Photographer.

My 2-cents? Well, I'm someone who loves to digitally enhance my photos and give my images that little extra kick, for emotional impact :) While my friend is a purest who takes beautiful photos that speak for themselves, without any added effects. But no matter what, the way I see it is the process begins with a photo being taken. So, my opinion? We are both photographers! Each style has merit, just with a different approach to the craft of photography.

But that's just my opinion. Anyone agree? Disagree? Couldn't care?!

Urban Graffiti

More comments addressing this posting can also be found on Etsy at the following link: POE Team Forum


Deb said...

I agree with you. Whether you do anything to the photograph afterwards or not, you still have to take a good photograph in the first place to do anything/not do anything to, so for me it's really a moot point. 'Pure' photography and digitally altered photography are equally valid in my view.

Whilst I do understand some 'pure' photographers annoyance, having spent years studying and mastering their craft, when some upstart takes a pic on their phone and puts it up for sale on Etsy, daring to use the phrase 'fine art' in the title, it's kind of irrelevant. I love some 'pure' photography, and I love some of the i-phone photography I've seen - for me the end result is what matters, is it a pleasing image or not, and how the artist arrived at that end result is really not important.

TheBQE said...

I also believe both are photographers. I have seen people digitally enhance terrible photos that only made it worse. On the other hand, I have also seen people take pure photos and they weren't very good either. It takes a lot of effort and a good eye to do both types of photography successfully.

Ruth said...

Thank you! Yes, it absolutely starts with taking a good photo. And from my stand point, any digital enhancements made could also be compared to filters used on a camera lens... so you're right, both are equally valid means to a pleasing end! It doesn't matter how you get there :)

Ruth said...

Oh, hello TheBQE! You make some very valid points. Absolutely, you gotta have the eye first in order to get a good photo - my sentiments exactly!

Lemon Artistry said...

I think they're both photographers. Similarly to post production to film cameras where one can adjust their image through the developing process, I consider modifications in software as post processing developing...for digital photography. Personally, I try to do as little developing but I do like to enhance every once in awhile with added saturation, masking to create different effects within the same photograph and so forth. Some artists like to take it a step further and generate imagery that may or may not be found in reality...but they still captured a photo to start with. :)

Heather said...

Digital photography by its nature requires "processing" for print. However, I draw the line for myself at altering content: i.e., adding something or removing something that wasn't there at the time of capture. (Other than sensor dust spots.) :)

With content manipulation, I sort of consider it a "digital creation" which is still definitely art, and a fantastic world to explore! :) However, I try to keep my photography more "traditional" and label my digital creations.

Just my $.02. :D

Ruth said...

So interesting to hear everyone's takes... and it seems to me like it all boils down to what actually defines a 'photograph', what defines 'digital art', and NOT what defines a Photographer. Certainly makes sense to me!

Cassandra said...

Morning! Thought I would add my two cents :)

Ok I would have to say that a photographer takes and edits images. Even if you still take film photographs there is a certain amount of editing that takes place, technology has just made more possible and easier.

A digital artist for me is more towards the area of graphic design. A designer will take a photograph for a purpose and then use that photograph as they see fit within a design.

I worked as a graphic designer and then studied photography and I see the fields as being closely linked but not the same.

Everything nowadays is changing with the advances in technology and photography will continue to do so.

So yeah so at that end of all that rambling I agree both are photographers! Just using different techniques!

Ruth said...

Yes, I agree that digital artwork leans more toward graphic design, since you are adding outside elements to an image - whether they be selections of other photos, patterns, textures, etc. Because of this I do understand my friends reluctance to allow the 'creator' to be called a photographer, however I feel his mistake is in re-labeling the photographer and not the photo. I mean, in essence it's the image that has changed in definition, not the person behind the camera!

Bill said...

Personaly I feel that if you look through the view finder and press a button you are just takeing a picture. Though your eye for subject matter and composition may be great you still have yet to creat your image. Once you have applied your digital artistry to the picture, it then becomes your finished image. As opposed to some one who will minipulate the light that the medium is recording to creat the image he/she has in mind.

I take nothing away from the "digital artist" I can't do what they do, but if you don't know how an f-stop is defined or how to control depth of field... Though you may be an incredible artist, I just don't think you can say you're a true photographer. Take your camera off AUTO and learn the tool. I am not a digital artist because I do not know how to use the tools, I am a photographer.

Ruth said...

Hi Billy, I was wondering when you'd join in on the discussion! Welcome :)

The main issue I take with your argument is the assumption that 'digital artists' (as you say) shoot in 'auto' and have no clue of how to use camera settings. Now, I'm sure there's a lot of 'hobbyists' out there who might fall into this category - everyone these days seems to have a camera in their hand!! But there's still a lot of passionate, seasoned photographers who have simply progressed with the times, and have chosen to embrace the various computer software programs for their image manipulations. So to take away their title as a 'Photographer' makes absolutely no sense.

To assume that everyone who digitally enhances their images shoots in 'auto', is just silly. I for one love to use the manual settings on my camera! Adjusting my f-stop and playing with depth of field is all part of the photo taking experience. What I do thereafter in Photoshop doesn't remove my initial intent when I took that photo, nor negate the skill used to capture it.

Billy, it is of course your prerogative to not digitally manipulate your images within a post processing software, but I don't believe for a second that this makes you more of a Photographer than those that do!

Bill said...

You're putting words in my mouth again Ruth... I never said that a photographer should be stripped of their title, they now get to add digital artist TO their title. And when you talk about, "photographers who have simply progressed with the times, and have chosen to embrace the various computer software programs for their image manipulations" I truly think you are just trying to jab at me. What you do not understand is that as a photographer I have progressed with the times. I shoot with top end digital equipment and I utilize a digital darkroom, but I do not us any artistic software to "MANIPULATE" my image.
I have seen artists take one of my photographs and paint a beautiful representation of that photograph but it does not make it a photograph... it makes it a painting. It is not any less impressive but it is a different art form with a different set of tools. You may be able to tell that it was my image that inspired the painting, but it is still a painting.
And again, I never said that this alone makes me any MORE of a photographer than any one else... What I said was that this alone does not a photographer make.

Ruth said...

Hi again, Billy! I'm sorry if you felt I put words in your mouth - I don't see that I did, but it's possible I've misunderstood your argument.

And I want to adamantly let you know that I was not having a go at you with my reference about photographers progressing with the times. I'm sorry that you took that comment so personally, it was certainly not meant to be a jab at you! I'm well aware that while purest photographers may not want to digitally manipulate their photos in a post processing software, it does not mean they won't use a digital camera. I was not debating this.

But it does appear to me that you have switched your argument regarding the definition of a photographer. The references made within your first response all revolved around the comparison of a 'digital artist' to a photographer, and you even ended your argument by clearly stating that you are not a digital artist, you are a photographer. Yet in your second response you now say that we are all photographers, just some of us can add digital artist to our title. Seems like a new argument to me, and one that I would not have disputed.