Am I Cheating By Using Photoshop

The last splash of Autumn color in an othewise wintery landscape near Arrowstown on the South Island of New Zealand.

This post is very much an opinion piece. I’ve kept it super short and would be very happy to read your thoughts and comments on the subject.

Photography: Same As It Ever Was

There have always been great photographers, but some of the best were also master printers. The two went together then, just as the camera and the desktop do today. And this is also true for consumers who use a mobile/cell phone and an app to process the image prior to sharing it.

This is just another example that the more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s just a matter of perspective as to how readily we accept and adopt new working practices into our own, individual workflow. But the point is that the creative process is as healthy today as it ever was.

Looking through the wire at colorful walls in La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Photography Is The Art Of Intervention

As creative beings, we intervene at various stages and in a variety of ways during the creative process. Framing, lens focal length and composition; polarizing and neutral density filters; camera angle and depth of field; and whether to freeze action or produce creative blur - all are examples of how intervention can produce a more visually interesting result.

This black and white image of a rice paddy in Bali draws attention to the compositional elements of the scene, particularly line, texture and contrast.

Black and White Photography: A Point Of Departure

And let’s not forget black and white as a pretty radical departure from reality as we would normally perceive it. Just because it’s been around a while don’t discount black and white as a form of abstraction which separates the image from reality and allows us to connect with the photograph, at a deeper level, than what we might otherwise.

A colorful portrait of a young woman in Harbin in north east China on a cold winter's day.

These are important considerations for the visual artist but, at the end of the day, you have to find a way to reconcile yourself with what it is that you do and how you do it. I simply recommend that, in addition to the standard documentary approach to producing recognizable images of people or locations know to us, that you push yourself to make more visually interesting and emotionally compelling images. You’ll find the process creatively rewarding and you’ll likely receive feedback from your audience that’s more personal and meaningful. 

Photography in our contemporary world is digital. The camera is a computer and JPEG's are processed in camera, while a RAW file is processed on the desktop. But, either way, intervention occurs. By understanding and accepting this simple fact you’ll be able to get on with making great images and no longer be held back by silly notions that using Lightroom, Photoshop or other image editing programs is somehow cheating. Using these programs simply provides you with a far greater range of creative options by which to express your response to the world around you.

Perhaps I'II work with you, one day soon, to help you on your own, creative journey. 

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru