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“Photoshopped.”

My photo blog (shameless plug: lightproofbox.com) has been getting some traffic from StumbleUpon lately which brings with it little waves of attention. 99% of it is positive. But invariably there are a few people who don’t seem to have anything better to do than to say trite, mean things (anonymously, natch).

Hey, I’ve been around long enough to know there are jackasses out there who, while not doing anything risky or creative of their own, will always be willing to bash what everyone else is doing. I let it roll off my back.

But the one that makes me laugh is when they claim a photograph has been “photoshopped.” Well, duh. That’s like looking at the ocean and denouncing it by saying, “Wet.” Photoshopped? Let me think… Um, yes, please!

I modify 99% of my published photos. Of the thousand I’ve posted to Flickr there are maybe a half-dozen that I posted as-is from the camera. My earliest photos had the least “work done.” Later, as I became more experienced with digital post-processing, I edited quite heavily (probably too heavily in many cases). Lately, as my skill, confidence, and ability to pre-visualize with the camera has grown, I’ve been able to get what I want with minor adjustments or black and white conversion but I still sometimes edit heavily.

I think that most people who cry foul over a photo think that it’s a complete fake (reasoning: there’s no way I could take that photo, therefore no one could, therefore fake) and that the photographer is trying to pass it off as if it weren’t. (Keep in mind I’m talking about art not journalism.) Like I’m using Photoshop to pull a fast one and it’s the duty of these sharp-eyed photo-police to point out to everyone that the photo isn’t “real.”

News flash: no photos are “real.” At best, they’re a cropped, 2-dimensional representation of something real. Photographs are stories. Every one. Some of the stories are simple: we saw a famous landmark. Some can have a much deeper, even spiritual, impact. A single photograph can tell different stories to different people. And the last time I checked, stories don’t have to be “real” to have real meaning.

John Watson

John is the original founder of Photodoto, but after running it for 4 years he had to focus on different things. If you're interested in what John has been up to recently, you can check is personal blog or browse his photo blog.

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