Processing a Fine Art Photo Is Not an Act of Cheating: It Is a Necessity

My art photographs are processed using specialized software and a computer. For me, this is an essential step in my creative process. The development of a photo (processing) strengthens my artistic approach and my photographic vision.

This article will help you understand how to implement a new tool in your photography toolbox. By implementing it, you will make your photos even more interesting and instill in them true meaning.

This black and white photograph of a deer has been developed to provoke questioning.
This black and white photograph of a deer has been developed to provoke questioning.

A Camera Does Not See Like the Human Eye

A camera is a machine designed by humans. It does not think like me. It merely completes the task given by the photographer. The way it records photos in memory is always the same, whether for landscapes, animals, or portraits. Nevertheless, every element of a scene is different. A camera does not distinguish between clouds, the fur of a mammal, or the scales of a fish.

How can one compare the texture of clouds with the Grand Canyon's rock structure? It is not possible. A camera is not able to distinguish differences in the photographic elements. To the camera, all details are similar due to the internal computer processing of the device, which is identical for the entire photo.

The human eye can spot these subtle nuances. The brain will build the final image that will convey the emotions of the scene or plan.

To overcome the weaknesses of digital cameras, a photographer will have to use external tools to paint his emotion into the scene. The only means at his disposal are computers and software. But before going further, it seems important to clarify a crucial point.

I agree that shooting is important in the creation of an artistic photograph. If several photographers are portraying the same scene, it is certain that all the photographs taken will be different because of the choice of the points of view, the framing, and the compositions. But if these same photographers decide upon the same setting for the placement of the camera, all photographs will be similar. The choice of cameras will influence the images created. Indeed, some of them have a better sharpness than others. Some are also more precise in the focus. But overall, the images will be similar.

How then to ensure that each photographer can confirm his photographic signature? The answer is simple. The photographic development makes it possible to affirm its difference.

Post Processing is the Key to Affirming a Photographic Signature

The shooting is the first step in expressing an artistic approach for a photographer. Computer post-processing is the second step that strengthens it. The advantage of development is that if several photographers use the same software, the results will be totally different. They depend completely on the sensitivity of each situation.

Indeed, the techniques and methods of development are so many and varied that the creative palette is infinite.

The development of a photograph for an artistic purpose is merely to reinforce a photographer's emotional response to a scene.

The post processing information of a photo is a guarantee for the creator of artistic photographs to have a unique and very personal signature. The condition is not to reveal development methods.

Processing an Art Photo is not Fraud

Developing an art photograph is in no way an act of cheating if you follow certain ethical rules.

I must not forget that art is above all, a means of expression for an artist. He is displaying his vision of the world to his viewers.

The development of a photograph for an artistic purpose is just to reinforce a photographer's emotional response to a scene.

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This is still one of the major differences with documentary photography. As I discussed in the blog post dedicated to the creation of art photography, the two types of photographs are very distinct. Documentary photography is factual, descriptive. It reports a scene and shows an event. Since it is intended to illustrate an article or to be published in a book, the photographer cannot develop it in an artistic way. He must report exactly what he has viewed. The development of a documentary photo is mainly to crop the image, improve its sharpness, and change its exposure and contrast. It cannot go further because it could distort reality, which would be the equivalent of cheating.

Artistic photography also has its limits as I will see in a next paragraph, however, these are limits are defined in broader terms.

Framing a Photograph Presents Truth

For many people, computer post processing is heresy. They consider it nonsense for a picture worthy of the name.

My answer to such accusations is that, at the time of the shooting, a photographer makes a subjective choice by choosing whether or not to integrate photographic elements. This choice specializes the scene itself.

The framing of a photograph does not accurately reflect the scene. By pushing the reasoning, a little further, a photographer is displaying his perception of what he is experiencing. In framing, he cheats.

For us, this is a rearguard debate that no longer needs to occur.

Art Photography is not Compositing


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