Where do you stand on manipulation?
In the age of filters, fine-tuning, and Photoshop, it’s difficult to come across an image that hasn’t had some tweaking carried out on it to make the colours pop or to make it more appealing. I’m definitely guilty of a tweak of and a filter application on the majority of the images I upload to my various social-media channels. But is ‘guilty’ really the right word?
After reading Adrian Hatwell’s interview with Simeon Patience on page eight and noting that Patience mentions a trend towards authentic and natural imagery, I came to the conclusion that this doesn’t mean there’s absolutely no editing administered to this imagery; rather, there’s just fine-tuning rather than complete image manipulation in order to keep the representation of a subject — whether it’s a landscape or otherwise — true to its natural appearance. The majority of the time, there’s some minor editing to do to present the finished product in a perfect condition, but this does not take away the truth factor from an image as some forms of editing can.
I think the circumstances call for different levels of editing. Ignoring news photography, I feel the attitude towards overly manipulated images is changing, heading in two polar directions depending on the application.
On one hand, if Photoshop is being used to completely alter the way a subject looks in terms of body image, I tend to lean towards the opinion that instead of making someone look completely different, you should just find someone else to work with who already has the features you’re after. And if you can’t, maybe the look that you’re aiming for doesn’t exist because it’s physically impossible to achieve (sorry, rant over).
On the other hand, there’s the idea that being able to edit images in any way you like so you can achieve your vision is fantastic for creativity advancement. I agree with this, as it would not be possible to create images that look painterly without an element of manipulation, and it allows the photographer to expand what they can achieve in-camera to create an artwork that is beautiful.
Of course, I absolutely admire those who can visualize an image then capture it incamera without the need to do any editing at all, but I don’t think we should avoid embracing the world of image editing just because it may be viewed as altering reality. I think that as long as the circumstances are taken into account and the correct level of editing is applied — that is, with consideration as to whether we are capturing an image to represent something the way it is or to have a bit of fun — why not embrace the growth of technology and see how photography can diversify even more?