Hallmark or art?


General Photography

Large numbers of people think that using Photoshop to do photography is just plain wrong, whereas many other people dive right in and, often, go nuts. I’ve always thought that all that matters is what you get in the end, which has some interesting consequences: For example, one could argue that all that fuss about “toy cameras” is really just wildly exaggerated when you can get the same images so easily doing some fiddling in Photoshop. Interestingly enough, most people wouldn’t accept such a digital photo while they’d heap praise on even the most boring “toy camera” photo. Well, it’s a hotly debated topic, and - as in physics - the large amount of heat leaves very little signal and quite a bit of noise.

In any case, there is a fairly large community of artists who employ often quite elaborate digital or darkroom manipulations, and it appears this process - mostly done digitally - is getting ever more popular. The problem I have with this is that I can’t make up my mind about the results. I typically sway between thinking I’m either looking at the photographic equivalent of a Hallmark figurine (like this one, say) or at some pretty nice artwork. I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to be unable to make up your mind, even though we live in times where you are supposed to have an opinion about everything.

Let me link to some of those artists so that you can look at their images. Maybe you will be able to make up your mind. Note that some of them use darkroom techniques, while others use the computer. I’m not going to tell you who does what - maybe that way, you’ll see that it really doesn’t matter how you do photography but, instead, what your results look like in the end. Mia Friedrich, Lilya Corneli, Darren Holmes, Vladimir Clavijo-Telepnev, Stefano Bernardoni, and Balazs Borocz. Obviously, this list is far from complete.
(slightly updated - 3 Sept.)