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Dark Room Process Versus Photoshop

Andy (not his real name) was formerly a news photographer for the Associated Press detailed in Manila during the Marcos regime. With the downfall of the late dictator and the hot news petered out, he later freelanced for some of the big independent photo agencies like Black Star and Gamma Photos, working from his home base in Lithuania.

As a much sought after news photographer during the early eighties, Andy certainly relied on his Nikon SLR cameras, occasionally using a powerful zoom lens or two on the field when he had to take news photos of dignitaries farther out in the field. Photojournalism, according to him, was in his blood. He loved the feel of the chase, the upliftment of feeling when he gained a particularly good shot of a globally known figure or a famous celebrity, and the gritty texture of the prints when he processed them out of his darkroom. “Those were the days,” he said, “when you had to do your own processing of films. It was a great feeling to see your prints slowly emerging from the chemical pans where you immersed them – and they come out alright.”

When his photojournalism days were over by virtue of his aging years, he shifted to fashion photography. And that was where the problem emerged.

“Here was I doing a few shoots with my models outdoors, in fact, in a nice setting like a forest somewhere for a local fashion magazine,” he says. “And then I hear some young guy just out of art school getting hired for more shoots but with half the price I quoted the magazine – but with just a few models and a bluescreen behind him! And he finishes the whole lot in a computer using some software called Photoshop. Where is the art, dedication and professionalism in that,” Andy quipped.

Sounds familiar? Yes, it is – and it happens to a lot of people as well. Much too often these days.

The Case against Photoshop – or is it as simple as that?

People think that a situation such as what Andy faced can just be resolved by just taking up a crash course in CS Photoshop and learning the rudiments of digital imaging. But the issue is far more complicated than that. When does creative photography end and digital imaging begin? Where is the line drawn between a “truthful rendition of reality and the “romantisation of a fact”, as exhibited by today's fashion photographs?

And does fashion photography, by the very nature of its essence – that is, to record the true, the good and the beautiful – have the right to “romanticize” the very nature of reality, of not just being a “truthful recording” of the beautiful? This situation posses many questions which can be an open case until now. What about your opinion? Will you still settle for the “old styles” or will you start learning Photoshop? I guess the choice is yours alone to make.

Jemmer Pablo
Tue, 17 Mar 2009 01:10:56 +0000

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