Sunday, August 16, 2009

Whose Truth

Came across this editorial quote at the Asian Photography Blog “As digital processes proliferate in the industry, photography has lost its role as an objective witness.” It is a succinct paraphrasing of the thoughts behind the many photography blogs that see digital processing i.e. Photoshop, GIMP et al, as the boogey man of photography.

The implication is that an “objective witness” will tell “the truth” and before digital processing photography did just that. Wrong! Photography has been and always will be a subjective medium. Any truth that a photograph contains will be edited by the photographer. As the photographer takes compositional concerns into account when they jostle about for the best shot so the objectivity of the photograph is compromised by the photographer’s artistic concerns. For we all know that the pretty pic will sell a lot better than the dull one.

Then there is the static nature of still photography which will compromise its ability to portray anything more than a moment in time, for life is not static. What was true when the shutter was pressed can be turned on its head within the blink of an eye, as so often happens in the real world.

And this is without entering the muddy waters of trying to determine what is truth, objective or otherwise, for one person’s trash is another’s treasure. A photographer whose objective is to present their truth should welcome digital processing and master the associated tools to create images that are inclusive rather than exclusive. Images that show the object in the light of their concerns, which the post processing enabled by the digital has made that much easier.

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