Photo Essay

Imagined Images

imagined image: flower

"A photographer is a witness. He has a moral duty. Every picture must be true and honest. I believe a photographer's strength is his ability to accurately record reality. There are photographers who think they are lucky if they find unusual or special subject. But it is never the subject that is so marvelous. It is how alive and real the photographer can make it."

--- Edouard Boubat - from Photo by Boubat, a film for Swedish television directed by Rune Hassner

"I capture reality, never pose it. But once captured, is it still reality? I've always tried to play with the false impression of reality, with the ambiguity of appearances. Things are what they seem to be, or maybe something else."

---- Richard Kalvar

I am interested in this dichotomy in the approaches of many photographers. Perhaps I don't have the skill to capture "reality" as it is. Perhaps it's just that I don't know what it is. Instead, I consider a camera a tool not to "capture" but to create. With new technologies and software, it is possible to extend that creative process further than ever. That presents some exciting possibilities. And a lot of very annoying pictures. These "imagined images" are some of my efforts to express in an image what I saw or thought I saw or wanted to see or simply imagined. They are all just photographs with some simple manipulation in post. Have I betrayed my "moral duty"? Are things what they seem to be?

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27 responses

  • Litz Go

    Litz Go gave props (8 Feb 2010):

    Wonderful photo essay, Aaron. My vote.

  • Deborah Downes

    Deborah Downes gave props (9 Feb 2010):

    Food for thought and a visual feast, Aaron. Sure gets my vote.

  • claudia luthi

    claudia luthi gave props (9 Feb 2010):

    I hope you go on experimenting, it suits you excellently!

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (10 Feb 2010):

    Hell YEAH! Rad!

  • Sonia Adam Murray

    Sonia Adam Murray gave props (10 Feb 2010):

    Very well said and the photos illustrate your words perfectly!!!!!!!!! I voted!

  • Anne Worner

    Anne Worner (Deleted) gave props (14 Feb 2010):

    This is an interesting discussion - that I've had with some other photographers. Some feel that a recorded image should not be changed, or retouched. I feel this way about photojournalism, and about street photography. But the advent of the digital camera has opened up so many more possibilities for us, to actually create art. I'm still on the fence with a lot of this, but as a previous oil painter, I can definitely see my photography following in the heels of my painting, to become more that only that which I captured.

  • Maura Wolfson-Foster

    Maura Wolfson-Foster gave props (14 Feb 2010):

    A wonderful collection of your imagination - voted ~ !!!

  • Gary Fudge

    Gary Fudge (Deleted) gave props (14 Feb 2010):


  • catharine amato

    catharine amato gave props (15 Feb 2010):

    your imagination and creativity gets full marks and my vote!

  • Jim Hart

    Jim Hart said (16 Feb 2010):


  • Lêda Nardelli

    Lêda Nardelli gave props (2 Mar 2010):

    beautiful essay!

  • Michele Randell

    Michele Randell said (4 Apr 2010):

    It is an interesting dilemma...even as Anne talks about photojournalism and street photography does the photographer not choose to photograph from his/her own perspective...I imagine it is different for everyone that viewpoint and I do see a lot of street photography as an example that projects something more than a mere documenting of a moment in time.I think it is important to be skilled and aware in both traditional photography but also as the world changes to embrace the new with reverence to the history of photography as art.If we can now realise our images from our head as photographic art why is this any less valid..that technology is not going to go away .....and things are never as they seem . A wonderful essay worthy of being published as a valid question as to what is photography now. Mesmerising imagined realities from the mind full of depth and meaning...

  • Maria Gonzalez

    Maria Gonzalez gave props (12 Apr 2010):

    Homage to so wonderful.

  • catharine amato

    catharine amato gave props (12 Apr 2010):


  • Maria Mutch

    Maria Mutch (Deleted) gave props (4 May 2010):

    Thank you posting this essay; the quotes, your own thoughts, and especially the images are such a great addition to the discussion of perception (and people, perhaps, being a little too attached to "reality").

  • Jack Cutting

    Jack Cutting said (13 Nov 2010):

    Really nice essay, well said Aaron.

  • John O'Brien

    John O'Brien (Deleted) said (22 Mar 2011):

    Your images make your point. With any art form, there is always a range of technique and style, and there are purists, who are disciplined adherents of one 'school' or another, and who often take a stand within their formalsitic boundries to critically denounce the rest of us. Interestingly, it is often the creative who pushes the boundries of the moment who is viewed as the magical innovator, the artist, the poetic manipulator giving us a valuable articulation of the worlds in which we currently dwell. Thank you Aaron, for you evocative essay! john

  • Jim Robertson

    Jim Robertson said (16 Apr 2011):

    F`get about it! Reality is an illusion. Be as illusory as you can be!

  • Sonia Adam Murray

    Sonia Adam Murray gave props (21 May 2011):

    I would like to add as an abstract artist that I personally feel that many times when you go with your gut you have the best result. Maybe not for the general viewers but for oneself and is it not important to be true unto oneself. Otherwise how can I look at myself in the mirror? Food for thought my friends.

  • Mysti Cribb

    Mysti Cribb gave props (3 Jun 2011):

    Reality is too subjective to build a moral framework on anyhow. Be compelled to show your own reality. Very beautiful images.

  • Massimo Bardelli

    Massimo Bardelli   gave props (19 Feb 2012):

    I agree with Sonia, bravo!

  • Ioana Caravan

    Ioana Caravan   gave props (22 Feb 2013):

    Imagined images=Art

  • Ronnie Ginnever

    Ronnie Ginnever gave props (23 Feb 2013):

    Each image is worth a 1000 words, and food for thought. Voted!

  • Donna Mullins

    Donna Mullins (Deleted) gave props (2 Mar 2013):

    Super fun photos and a great essay! Voted!

  • niko niko

    niko niko gave props (13 Apr 2013):

    i dig!

  • Lynn E. Harvey

    Lynn E. Harvey gave props (6 Jan 2014):


  • Bailey Cooper

    Bailey Cooper said (6 Jan 2014):

    The thing about imaginings Aaron, is that they are so very personal. Try as they may, no one will ever see what we see because our memories and experiences aren't collectively stored. With 'Stardust' it is the music that flowed through your mind as you worked toward your imagining. Seeing the two linked is completely logical... now... because you have shared that single pathway. In the end, things ARE what they seem to be for each of us whether artist or viewer.

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