Friday, 18 January 2008

The 10th Blog Post

Well here we are, the 10th post in a fortnight. It is time for a question "When does a photograph stop being a photograph and become a digital image?"

What is the dictionary definition of a photo?

Chambers Online Reference gives

"photograph noun a permanent record of an image that has been produced on photosensitive film or paper by the process of photography."

Given that the photosensitive film or paper element is removed these days and replaced, largely, by a photosensitive silicon chip, does the definition hold any more?

Back in the day, one could see Snaps - taken by anyone on a box brownie or equivalent or perhaps portraits taken by a professional photographer or art, where liberties were taken with processing - cross processing in later years, but the fine art of dodge and burn applies equally well.

All of these, I would propose, were photographs. Honest images, produced from a film negative, plate or other sensitive medium.

These days we have Photoshop with which to tone blend, layer, merge, over or under expose, bend, twist, mash up, smooth, heal, dodge, burn, selectively colour and any other process imaginable - and some unimaginable in days of yore.

Does the output from the post processing workflow qualify as a photograph?

When hours spent at the PP desk, fiddling and tweaking, result in an image almost but not quite entirely unlike the original isn't the output more digital art than photography?

I am not decrying the skills or effort involved in producing the image, although effort involved alone doesn't always qualify an image as having any merit at all - I just want to get straight what is and what isn't a photograph!

With an artist, such as Harriet Barber, it is obvious that what she is producing are paintings - digression alert and, in my opinion good ones at that; your wallet has to be deep to afford a full size landscape, and if I had deep pockets I would have many more Harriet barber paintings than I do.

However with modern 'Photographers' much of their output, whilst artistic, is arguably not photography, rather something else - digital art perhaps? This is as true of "Page Three" type images as of classic landscape and waterfalls, evidence of this classification can be found on every 'photography' based website on the internet.

I dunno - it is a question that has been trundling through my head for a few months now. I am no closer to finding the answer, but as thoughts condense from the aether I will try and post them here.

Comment or not, the choice is yours - assuming anyone reads this drivel!

No comments: