17 Jun 2012
On my brother's recommendation, I decided to come on board jpg several months ago. As I perused the website, I found the rules of engagement a bit odd: "JPG is about mostly unmodified photos. By "mostly unmodified" we mean you haven't deleted or composited elements in the photo. Keep it real, baby! (Enhancements to color and sharpness are fine, of course)."
So I can post photos but can't play with them and if I do... we don't want them and you're not a real photographer. It looked like this site was where the photographic rubber met the road... where real photogs hung... the ones who break bricks when they spit on them.
Hell... I can't even break a brick with a great big hammer. So, hmmm, how was this gonna' work for me? Having been a rebel with and without a cause most of my life, I have come to realize that eventually I wouldn't be able to walk if I kept shooting myself in the foot. Translated: I'd been reining in the rebel and working hard to conform. So coming on board seemed the perfect time to practice 'respecting the man'.
Of course, these rules of engagement would certainly put a crimp in my creativity. In my amateur opinion, one of the best things about digital photography is the software that completely redefines what is possible. I view my untouched photos as canvases. To those I apply the wizardry of technology and out the other end come the stories, the emotion, the art, the nuance, the creativity, and the eccentricities that are me.
For about 6 months after joining, I tried behaving like a respectable photog. Every time I shuffled an image over to Photoshop or Lightroom, I expected a siren to start blaring and the photo police to come banging on my door. The longer this went on, the unhappier I became until I finally went looking for my sad little rebel and told her, "Suit up Toots. Game on".
Advancements in art, computer technology and photography are happening at light speed today. The Baroque Period, the days of Reubens and Rembrandt, lasted 150 years, Romanticism 70 years, and Impressionism only 20 years. The Abstract Expressionism of the 1940s - 1950s came and left in 10 years. Do the timeframes reflect worth, or do they reflect forward thinking?
Photography is no different. From the camera obscuras of long ago through the 1900s, development occurred at a snail's pace. But once the first digital camera was introduced in 1991, technology has blown the whole thing wide open and we are bound by nothing.
We do not exist in a bubble and if we don't hop on the Techno Express, we're gonna' get left at the station. JPG knows that they must continually reinvent themselves to stay viable, so they do. They know they can't stay in the local print shop, typesetting and waxing clip art for the latest edition of yesterday's news. This thinking applies to our art as well. If photographers in the 21st century don't embrace technology, they will be consumed by those who do.
Do I alter my images? Absolutely. Do I believe that this discredits me as a serious photographer or artist? Hell no. I take advantage of every preset and filter and tool and brush and slider and setting and shortcut I can get my hands on. I do the work. I teach myself the technology and then I use it. The discussion about doing the work 'inside' the camera or 'outside' the camera is just semantics. Altering what the eye actually sees is alteration, period.
All the photos included have been messed with... some more than others. That doesn't make the image less worthy no more than a digital image is less worthy than a film image. I believe it is time to step off the soapboxes and embrace ALL that photography is, has been, and will be in the techno years to come.
For the most part, these are the images you prefer.
As for me, this baby IS keepin' it real... her way.