September 18, 2013

verb. pho·to·shoped, pho·to·shop·ping

We no longer say that an image has been manipulated. We do it so often and so easily, that we’ve actually come up with a new verb that most people know about but few really know how to use it. And no, I am not trying to imply that I know how to use it as it should be used, but I am saying that general misuse (and abuse) has earned it a very bad reputation.

Remember when you first learned to change the font type in documents and would try to use every single font in one single page? We got so excited about a new tool or skill, that we didn’t stop to think about how much of it we should actually use. That’s exactly what makes a photoshopped image a crappy one. Don’t overdo it.

You’ll always hear from ‘purists’ that believe that every image should be exclusively created in-camera and that using softwares like Photoshop is actually cheating. That before photography went digital, these things were never done and photography itself was a more honest art. While I do agree this is the case in some areas of photography like journalism, after being fully captivated by dreamy images that could not have been created without these manipulations, I have to say that I’m voting in favour for Photoshop.

The Protector of Magic, by Brooke Shaden
The Protector of Magic, by Brooke Shaden

No, I will not switch people’s faces and deform their bodies, but I will do small things to bring the viewer’s attention to what should be the focus of the image and to rid it of annoying distractions. I am very inspired to one day create images that are intriguing and mesmerizing, like this one from Brooke Shaden.

And to those that still think that manipulating images is something recent or dishonest, a result of the digital era, I can only say that we photographers are somehow always cheating the viewer (in sort of a pleasant way). Starting with the choice of lenses, the light and shadows, the point of view, etc, we’re always pulling tricks that will make the image what we want it to be.

If you’re still not convinced, take a look at these images from 1800 & early 1900s.

 What do you think? Is Photoshopping good or evil?

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