Monday, July 27, 2009

The Inner Battle Among Photographers

Before I write this, I want you to all know where I am coming from. I am a Gallery Moderator on deviantART for Photography-Animals, Plants, & Nature (think basically, Nature Photography) I interact with literally thousands upon thousands of people, sometimes on a daily basis. And it is with that interaction that I started to notice a few things amongst my fellow photographers.

It almost seems there are 2 camps within nature photography, these who believe in capturing the image exactly as you saw it, and those who get a little creative with their images...maybe doing subtle HDR work, de-saturating images, and so forth. Oddly I have found it is the later, the creative camp, who is more likely to do B&W work, but anyways....

What I have come to notice is a BIG chip on the shoulder coming from the the "The eye crowd" as I call them, towards their creative brethren... and it often gets pretty heated. It kind of leaves me scratching me head honestly, wondering why so many feel this way, feeling the need to outright openly and attack others because they feel an image is wrong....I kind of wonder where the respect has gone.

Is it possible to even have a "right" or a "wrong" within a creative medium? I am not to sure of that. No 2 photographers are going to capture things the exact same way, and who cares if one shot has more post work than the other, in all honesty. I think without question, we all view things the same way when we take the shot, regardless if one photographer decides to go with a B&W and the other one replicating the scene the best as they can to the human eye....we are all photographers....

So what is causing these attacks and general disdain? That is what I would like to know myself. Now I don't mean to be offensive here, but honestly, there are a million and 1 cookie cutter waterscape shots that all look the same, long exposure, at sunrise/sunset, etc. And often, oddly, these folks attacking the more creative ones, their shots all look a lot alike. I honestly to God can not tell who shot that a slam? I don't think so as much as it is an observance of a possible pattern. I honestly like their work, but at times, I can't tell who shot what...

Myself, I think I ride the fence a lot between the two camps, sometimes I take shots with a more creative workflow in mind, other times, I capture it as realistically as I can...needless to say, some of the comments I receive are well...."interesting", I will say that. That being said though, I have worked long and hard at developing my own style, and maybe that is what needs to happen....I remember an old quote that goes something like "People put down what they don't understand"....I guess those words really ring true, especially these days with what I have seen.

Anyways, here are a couple shots from this past Friday evening that I took up on Guanella Pass & Boreas Pass here in Colorado...stay tuned for a formal blog post about that, in the days to come!


Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,


  1. You know what john, i agree actually. The unprocessed images go so far and then... get a little samey. @Though i do tink that post process-fixing should not be a substitute for good photography i probably fall in the same editing but not full on manipulation camp.. but then i get board of the same thing against and again....

  2. John, It's good to talk to you again and thank you so much for "tweeting" my image, "Hey Lady" - that was a memorable photo shoot for sure!

    Regarding, "The Inner Battle Among Photographers" I would like to add this, "People put down what they are afraid of...." -- not to get too philosophical here, but it might be what people don't understand is exactly what frightens them. Technology is changing so quickly; it is quite hard for most of us to keep up with all of it, let alone understand it. Do you find this to be a battle between age groups - or does it seem to be between philosophical leanings?

  3. I've noticed the same thing... Personally, I'm a bit like you - I can swing either way at a given time, but I prefer to reserve the right to be creative when I feel the need.

    I think a lot of it has to do with digital being "relatively" new, as well the fact that now - we have the ability to be so creative with our images. Yes, there's always been the darkroom, and people were free (or not ) to manipulate all they like. But I think a larger number of shooters in the past were the types that dropped things off at the photo lab, so manipulation was restricted to lens filters and x-processing. Photography - for the masses - sort had a "WYSIWYG" value attached to it.

    As digital matures, the ability to "manipulate" not only becomes easier - it also becomes somewhat "necessary" or even expected - like shooting RAW for example. Just how much "processing" is enough before one crosses some arbitrary line?

    One other point would be that, for whatever reason, photographs have - for some 150 years or so - been regarded as little windows (or mirrors) of "reality". Yes, exceptions exist, but by and large that has been the case... The term "photographic evidence" sort of illustrates this point.

    (The thing I don't entirely get is why HDR gets a bad rap, while a graduated split density filter may be regarded as "ok". Well, I get it, but don't see the logic :) )

    Photography is still in a very transitional state - digital has shaken it all up, and I'd guess it will still be a while until the pixels settle.

    Great blog, btw! Thanks for sharing - here and at DA!

  4. Excellent post, John. I think this speaks to human nature in general though. This sort of thing comes up with almost any topic. There will always be 'Person A' who subscribes to one belief, and 'Person B' who subscribes to a different belief on the same topic. The problems arise when someone with a narrow view and a strong opinion decides to take it upon themselves to correct those that are wrong in their eyes. It all stems from ego and low tolerance for difference.

    As far as I'm concerned, there are no limits in the realm of creativity, regardless of the medium. And doing heavy post-processing still takes a lot of talent, if you want it to come out looking great. Anyone can pick up a camera and take photos, but it takes talent to take photos that others will enjoy seeing, and the same goes for post-processing.

    I say, to each his own. Creativity comes from the imagination, and it would be a shame to put a limit on that.