Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Danger Zone

There's a line… or should I say area, that, depending on what kind of photography you do, you may find yourself dancing in as a photographer.  

In the days of film you honed in your senses to be at the ready for that decisive moment.  All your experience, training and knowledge of shutter speed, aperture, ISO, depth of field and film stock was second nature. It's like driving a car with a manual transmission and you don't even need to think about the clutch anymore. It's automatic, so you're on the hunt and looking for that decisive moment so you can capture it with the best composition possible.  You would use lighting and exposure to capture something that may or may not be in front of your lens and through camera control, you can interpret the scene on to the negative in the creative nature that you've pre visualize in your head.  And… that area that I speak  of above, is the blurred line between reality and the photographer's interpretation of the scene.  This blurred line used to be a creative playground. A place to dance between reality and fantasy.  Of course there were limits but it was an exciting and creative place to live.

Today, with digital manipulation, this playground has almost found itself extinct.  The camera has become more of a gathering tool for images and less of a creative instrument.  For the most part, a good percentage of photographers have taken the creed of the lazy audio engineer and live by the motto, "fix it in the mix".  In this case, PhotoShop.  But as I overheard someone say once, "You can't expect to make a chicken salad out of chicken shit!"  Well, today, you can get pretty close!  There are a lot of brilliant photoshop manipulators out there now and they can do amazing work…  maybe, too amazing.

Todays magazine covers and images on the internet are so manipulated that the torch is being held high out of the reach of reality.  Yet we are so over saturated with these images, there are people that try to hold them selves to that torch as if it is reality.  

Our area of creative playground has turned into a danger zone, a mine field in post production.  Photo retouching of the past like teeth whitening, softening wrinkles, removing acne has turned into full blown body sculpting and plastic surgery.  I'm finding more and more that I am getting these kind of requests and they are requested like it's totally normal.  Maybe it is normal and I'm just not "with it" but I think there's a larger issue at hand.  I seem to recall a psych 101 lesson regarding the three "selfs". 1. You - how you are, truly.  2. How you perceive yourself.  And, 3. how others perceive you.  The closer these are to each other, the healthier and better state of being you possess.  The media has really torn this apart with the manipulated imagery it feeds every day.  Now with more and more people buying into it, it's tearing into perception on a personal level.  The farther these selfs are from each other, the being starts to fragment and suffer repercussion from the false reality.  I see this trend getting worse and worse with more people requesting unrealistic photoshop work like it's the normal thing to do.  This trend has pushed me into a quandary.  I have provided photoshop work that I personally have felt is unwarranted but it's what the client wanted so it was provided and billed accordingly.  But just because that's what the client wants, does that make it right?  I understand that everyone whats to look good but there is a line when you push reality.  Personally. I'd rather dance in the creative playground than the mine field of false reality.

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