A Case for Authenticity and Matters of the Heart
I was speaking with a new mentoring student yesterday. We were talking about all of the ways that an image could be altered using the usual suspects like Photoshop, Lightroom, Luminar and the various plugins that are available. I said to her that often when I look at images they feel like “the tail wagging the dog.” So many pictures today are being driven by the technology—by the grunge filters and various other effects. I don’t need the lily to be gilded. I want to see the true expression of the artist not some filter effect.
Ansel Adams used to say that if you could see any hint of what he did in the darkroom, the picture had failed. I realize that I am walking a tightrope here. Filters and plug-ins can be helpful in achieving a certain expression. But if the image is about the filter, and I have to wade through all of the manipulation to see what you have to tell me, then I think you have to think about why you are making photographs in the first place. I think some restraint is in order.
What I am look for are authentic images—images that reveal something powerful and real not only about the subject but also about the person who made it. Then you have captured my attention. Then you have captured my heart. And as they say in the late night infomercials, “Individual results may vary. Void where prohibited.” ;-)