Photoshop, post processing, editing, is it all cheating?

There are purist photographers who believe only what you capture in camera should count. I'm not sure if that includes filters, flashes etc because that's using external means to alter your image but anyway, I see them as Amish, who choose to live a simple and almost Spartan life, compared to most of us who choose to live in the time.

That's their choice and I don't think they interfere with people who choose to live in the manner of the time, and we don't interfere with them. 

I wonder if back in the day those who used early tin types said "Blah...glass plates? New fangled things, they'll never take off, it's cheating anyway!"

Decades later I wonder if the people who were use to using glass plates looked at paper negatives and said "Wow that's cheating! Should they be allowed to do that!"

Of course many years later those who had to defend their use of paper saw newcomers on the scene with small boxes carrying celluloid film. "Pah they're not REAL photographers! I mean, it's too simple for them, there's no skill or art in photography any more!"

Just  yesterday I was reading one person saying that digital photography had destroyed the art and skill of the photographer. Just yet another generation of people who maybe don't like change and can't move forward and learn new skills? I do wonder though if some people are aware that the revered landscape photographer Ansel Adams, and the vast majority of all other photographers, used dozens of tools and techniques to get his images the way he wanted them, and that included scraping bits off the glass plate/negative with steel tools, and using a special pencil to add bits in?

I think there's a point to 'getting it right in camera' as much as you can, because that minimises the amount of work you have to do in the darkroom/lightroom and indeed reading between the lines many of the most famous photographers in history appear to have followed the same thought pattern.

My take on the 'cheating' debate is quite simple: "You do what you want and I'll do what I want. But as long as I am not lying when I say what I did then I am not cheating."  I suppose for further debate you could ask why are people so concerned that they want to accuse others of 'cheating'?

Comments (6) -

  • sylvia scotting

    2/14/2015 9:09:04 AM |

    Since when did photography become a cheating issue. Photography in my view is an art form. Are artists cheating when they add something to their painting that is not there? Would you say that to have an expensive camera to others is cheating. You use what you have to create an image that you like. Creativity is the issue. I say get creating.

  • Gary

    2/14/2015 7:39:29 PM |

    Very right Sylvia. I find quite often in a group I run that those against post processing simply don't understand it and that forms the basis of their dislike.
    I don't think photography is about simply capturing an image, it's about recording a starting point from which you will create your vision.

  • sylvia scotting

    2/15/2015 10:31:19 AM |

    I agree  100% with what you say Gary. If those who want to take a photo as they see it, and keep it as it is , thats absolutely their choice. But please for all those who do not want to create do not accuse those who want to be creative of being cheats.

  • Phil Edmonds

    8/14/2015 1:32:46 AM |

    Well Sylvia and Gary I'm afraid that I can't 'cheat' very much as I'm too much of a novice to do so! I agree with your comments, like painting, photography should be about creating a special moment in time, light, shade, colour, texture and atmosphere. When I paint I use every tool available to me, and agree that this surely must be the case when taking pictures? I think the 'moral' of the story is that if what we do gives us pleasure (and perhaps others too) and we are happy with the end product it does not matter one jot how we should arrive at this!

  • Kev.B

    8/30/2015 10:13:46 PM |

    OK I'm old school what I see is what the customer gets - within reason... by this I mean little to no PS work, just maybe a crop, lighten etc or correct colour.. -I do not spend hours and hours over an image, a) I don't have that time to waste. b) I'm a photographer not a computer PS wizz kid......
    All this being said, I have no issues with any photo suite, its a choice thing - that being said it also means folk like me (old farts hehe) do not win comps... However we do take good photos -and do not create images in PS...

  • 3IYY

    6/23/2017 5:59:48 AM |

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  • mark

    11/7/2017 7:15:32 AM |

    of course its cheating if you call it a photograph. if you have changed or added to that then it isnt that photograph what was on your camera. its cheating to make it look better because you cant do it with the camera

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