Seeing Is Believing?

Seeing Is Believing?


Remember the days when you saw a really awesome photograph that was visually engaging say… 10 years ago? The comment that inevitably seeped from your mouth was something along the lines of “this is so good, it looks fake,” yet full well knowing it was most likely the real deal, cause at that point in time digital photography and photoshop artists were just really starting to go mainstream and it was uncommon for a photograph to undergo complete and utter manipulation by the knife of a photochopper. Today it’s the exact opposite, if the photo looks awesome it’s gotta be fake. Something has been tweaked, thinned, trimmed, cut and pasted, filtered, and/or drawn. Which brings me into the meat of the discussion…

What has photography become? How unrealistic have we become, how have our expectations lost every little scrap of perspective on the real world? As I browse thousands of model and photographer portfolios I’m overwhelmed by the amount of doctored photographs, neither providing true representation of themselves or work. A model with so much post work done to her she looks like a barbie doll (no exaggeration), and photographers claiming work as “photography” after a picture has spent a good few hours getting “tweaked” in photochop (yes, chop). Hell, the only ones being honest are the photochoppers showing their work, cause that is their true work.

But why not, every magazine out there has a fleet of photochoppers working around the clock to preserve that unrealistic “image” every teen out there struggles to achieve every waking minute. Where does it stop? Portrait photography and modeling have become a joke. Photographers advertise graphic designs as “photography”, and models show up for shoots looking nothing like the person in their portfolio (top photo, waist and entire legs trimmed).

Photoshop, Aperture, Lightroom… they have become the new ‘dark room’ in a digital world, and yes, small changes (contrast, saturation, and exposure) are expected. Perhaps a teen with bad skin, give it a little brushup, but many people go out of control and “enhance” photos until it’s unrecognizable from the original, and then call it a photograph. Example above, a terribly composed photograph with a ton of photochop work, even the rock wall was added on the left (some photog is claiming this as their work). Tools of which have been provided by advancing technology have just made a good portion of photographers lazy. They take a bad picture and salvage an ok picture thanks to a lot of work in post, instead of taking a great photo and making small adjustments to make it that much better in post. Somehow the whole lot of them think “if photographers now-a-days don’t do their own photoshopping they won’t make it.” No really, believe me, you don’t need a lick of photochoppin’. The digital age should be used as a catapult, not a crutch (er, maybe even a wheelchair). Take your crutch and stick it… some place I can’t see it, and learn photography. Models, properly represent yourself, don’t go barbie on me. And to the people just wanting their picture taken, love yourself for who you are, don’t ask for work done to your picture that won’t look like you in the end, that pretty much defeats the purpose of getting a picture of yourself in the first place.

To be honest, I actually take it personal when someone loves my work and are interested in how I made it look so good (how, as in, not my lighting and capturing technique, but my choppin’ skills). To which my reply is “a small bump in contrast and saturation.” They continue to look at me, waiting to hear the next step. I repeat myself but with a “thats it” on the end of it this time. They take a step back look at the photograph with a different perspective this time, and use the line we all used to say 10 years ago “this is so good, it looks fake.” Mind you, these are the words coming out of “photographers” mouths. Are we to a point where we need to have a disclaimer on the bottom or every photograph – “not photochopped.”

The good photogs out there… they can take your pic on location, turn the camera around so you can see it, and you’ll go “wow, that looks unbelievable.” And to tell you the truth, in this day and age, if I wasn’t the one who took that picture, knew how the composition, lights and exposure were setup, I wouldn’t believe it never touched photochop either.