I have been an artist for many years, and I was a photographer before that. I have talked about my philosophy about creating images before (and I am sure I will talk about it again…). What the final image communicates to the viewing audience is all that matters. There are many online arguments about what is or is not acceptable in photography, and there are many approaches to visual communication, however I believe that most of the issues people have boils down to a failure to communicate clearly.

One of the aspects of photography in all its forms is that even a heavily manipulated photograph has an essence of reality about it. Even if the lighting is unusual and the image is heavily edited, we think, at some deep level, that a version of that image must have existed “in real life”  maybe this is why some people get so upset when they learn that a particular image has been ‘photoshopped‘. The artist did not make it clear the image was changed from reality, and the viewer did not understand the extent that photographs can be changed.

Painters are sometimes held to the opposite prejudice. The painting may not look “real” enough, or may be too abstract[1]. Many viewers like to be able to put a label on things; that is a picture of a cat, or a seascape, or a wall…

The true reality is that all photographs (and paintings for that matter) are just a representation of some form of reality, whether it is a representational image of a bird, or an abstract made of random shapes. and it is up to the artist to control that representation to communicate what they want to say.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. I have been often accused of being too abstract. People ask “what is it a picture of?”
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