Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

What Comprises The Craft Of Photography?

I recently discovered the Lensflare 35 podcast. On Lensflare, Dave Warner interviews renowned photographers within the various photographic 'sub-specialties'. In Episode 42, he interviews nature photographer Tony Sweet, whose work I have greatly admired for a long time.

During that interview, Tony made a statement which serves as an interesting follow up to my last post, which quoted photographer Esther Parada's statement about image manipulation and also mentioned my essay "Photography and Truth". Tony said "We're at a point in photography where getting the image is only 50% of the game and the other half is making it look the way you want it to look (with software)." He went on to say that "The craft now is largely computer skills."

Those statements gave me a lot to think about. At first blush, I felt that the statements were true, but also found myself wishing that they weren't. Then I found myself thinking that 50% was too much to attribute to computer skills, as software can't make a terrible photograph into a good one.

However, the idea of making an image 'look the way we want it to' is really nothing new. Yes, we make the image look the way we want using software, but back in the wet darkroom days one made (and some still do make) the image look the way 'they wanted it to' through the 'magic' of darkroom techniques. Photographers are well aware that the scenes portrayed in Ansel Adam's prints do not exist. Well, the places do, but they didn't look the way he portrayed them, as the photographs were heavily 'manipulated' in the darkroom. Of course, that didn't make them any less beautiful.

It still takes a lot of 'heart and soul' to make an image that is worthy of bringing into the digital darkroom in order to make it look 'the way you want'. So I don't believe it is fair to say that the craft is "largely computer skills"....that may be so for a graphic designer, but not for a photographer. A very important part, yes, but largely seems just a bit too much.

So perhaps not much has really changed at all. Perhaps it has just gotten easier to 'manipulate' images but, I believe, it is still incredibly difficult to get really good, intriguing, different, and meaningful images that 'speak' to an audience!