Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My Approach to Digital Photography today

My approach to photogaphy has evolved in this digital era. I thank Arizona Highways and David Meunch for my first exposure to photography above a snapshot level. 

And while I appreciate Ansel Adams was not a documentary photographer, I wonder what some of his subjects looked like when he first set up the shot? Before he applied the Zone System and his dark room magic?

If he and other pioneers of his era had today’s digital abilities, just consider for a moment what masterpieces they could produce, given their talent and vision. Or, on the other hand, would they rebel? 

Would they object when digital images try to copy oil paintings or watercolors? We all like our photographs to have a “painterly” quality, yet when one scans thousands of contemporary works, he finds there’s a danger in producing work that looks at best, fawning and imitative, or worse, like some paint-by-numbers kit one buys at Michael’s.

When it’s garish and obviously unnatural . . . “unreal,” I find it off-putting. What did the scene look like “in the raw,” please? I feel the image is not only manipulated but so am I, the viewer. Am I asked to applaud talent or clever cosmetics?

Am I asked to accept obvious artistry? Or is it . . . packaging? Am I asked to suspend disbelief in the name of artistic license? Or, am I asked to accept it as phony but “artsy,” and therefore respectful of both the subject and the viewer, client, or patron?

For me, this matter is not settled as I continue my journey through the land of photography as art. Technology has opened a thruway for us photographers, but we should be aware there are detours and construction zones ahead.

I recently completed a drawing class. Our instructor told us: “We’re not striving for photographic realism here tonight. Let photographs be photographs and paintings be paintings.” I wonder how David Meunch and Ansel Adams would have responded to her comment.    

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