how we see ourselves

March 25, 2010  |  before and after, musings, people, photoshop

Yesterday I discussed an image that was recognized with a third place award by World Press Photo and later disqualified because it did not follow the rules which did not allow cloning. A link I included showed both the rather ordinary original RAW image and the final processed image that was submitted. I was curious to know how people felt about the final image and the steps that the imagemaker had taken to create it.

To try to understand this approach to making an image, I used one of my own photographs and followed a similar strategy to create the image I posted yesterday. Today I am posting the RAW image so you can compare the two. Basically I cropped a very small part of the original image and then heavily processed it to see if I could create a better story.

When I first started learning photography, it was drummed into my head to get it right in-camera–from the exposure to composition. As I began to study the tools that are so much a part of digital photography today, I learned that you can work with an image where the exposure or the composition are not technically perfect. This has raised questions for myself that I am still trying to answer. There is an interesting post over on Art Wolfe’s blog where Jim Goldstein interviews Art on the age of digital and poses the question “what do you feel is the most important take away to remember as (people) evolve as photographers?”. His reply was “I think it’s how they see themselves“. There is a longer answer in the context of the entire interview so I encourage you to read it.

Here’s where my thinking is at today. Whether we see ourselves as artists, imagemakers, or photographers, we need to have a philosophy that will guide the choices we make. That philosophy develops over time as we learn and grow in our craft culminating into something that can be as sophisticated as an artist statement or what’s simply termed “our vision”. As for my little experiment, I have to say that I found it much more satisfying to work with the whole image than with what I cropped. Inside my head, there is a voice saying that if I wanted to get that close-up image, I needed to step closer. If you think you can’t do that successfully for a press-type image, just take a look at Gavin Gough’s work on the Red Shirt Protests where there’s a great image of a gun sitting in the holster of a policeman.


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