I came across a post the other day which got me thinking. The author had made some personal observations about photography, and someone else had responded by starting a debate about whether digital photography was “real” photography, and further, was it ruining photography!
Whilst it was a very polarised debate, it did make me start to think. Why do we who are interested in photography, in all its guises, seek to diminish the importance of images created by any of the broad techniques labelled as photography? I do not remember hearing many artists saying, that because their art was created using pastels, or chalk or paint, or clay or even parts of dead corpses, that their work is any less artistic than anothers.
So why do we photographers do it?
Its been going on as long as I can remember, When I first joined a “camera Club in the late 1980’s, the hot debate was black and white versus colour, this was quickly followed by “own processed” versus trade processed images, then it was slide film versus negative, then we were on to digital versus “wet”, Canon versus Nikon… And on, and on it goes.
Surely the point is that you have created an image, by whatever use of technique, equipment and software, that you as an individual are happy with?
All artistic endeavours are deeply personal, even the quickest snapped image, with no post capture work, contains something of the photographer; the viewpoint chosen, the moment captured, the “why they took the image”. These are all personal to the picture maker and the resulting image will exhibit these nano signature components.
If the resulting image portrays what was trying to be captured and expressed, it is successful. If it portrays the same to others, then it has succeeded. If the photographer has put enough into the image to provoke some sort of reaction from the viewer, then they have achieved something wondrous. Even if the viewer does not feel exactly the same things that the photographer wanted them to, the important thing is that communication has been created, received and interpreted in such a way as to evoke a reaction. What else can you ask for?
To continually fight about what is and isn’t photography is as pointless as waiting for the latest, best camera to work with; when you buy one it is already out of date, if you keep waiting you will have wasted so much time.
Go out, make pictures and share them, if others like your work, that is great. If you like theirs, that is also great. Tell others about it, but if someone is good enough to let you share their images, don’t spoil it by trying to diminish it’s value, as my grandmother once said, “if you have’t got anything nice to say, you are a sad, sad person….”