Truth in photography

7 thoughts on “Truth in photography”

  1. I’m with you on that (up to a point) . . . If I stage something (very rare), I will mention it up-front. Out in the wild, I get what I get.

    It’s one thing chancing on something by sheer luck or waiting for the right moment, but it’s another setting things up.

    That said, I also don’t get too upset about the above . . . imagine, for a moment an artist painting or drawing that scene (or any other scene) . . . we don’t fault the artist for showing us his vision of something.

    So, while I would not do it, beauty is beauty no matter how presented, and that feeling you got? You would have had the same one if it had been painted. Would you have felt cheated by the artist?

    1. No, because a painting is by definition an interpretation, created by the artist’s hand. A photo at least begins by capturing the reality in front of the camera. What’s done to the image after it is captured … that’s a subject for a long, long discussion. The lines have become so blurred these days, I don’t know if distinctions are even valid anymore.

    2. Hmmm . . . perhaps, but I think you saddle photography with more responsibility than warranted. Think of it like fiction versus history (and even history is subject to interpretation). It’s all writing, but you don’t expect fiction to accurately reflect the real world (although it draws from it).

      There is room in photography for both a faithful representation of reality and of a stylized version of it (this being the latter).

      Photojournalism has a higher standard than casual photography and even that is subject to the photographer if not staging, at least highly editorializing (although I think staging is a common practice). One need only look at the photos of the Old West . . . they show you the people and places, but they are posed with the trappings of the times (sometimes literally).

      Look at some of the early “nature” shows (Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom); most of them presented staged scenes to give the viewer an idea of what happens in real life. Most viewers did not know the difference, and producers were not misrepresenting what happens in nature.

      When I look at the above photo I see a long exposure shot that no one would ever see in real life. You can’t resolve that kind of detail and color with your eyes alone, certainly not of the Milky Way.

      How is it then different than an artist painting an interpretation of the real world? You focus on the staged tent (which the photographer voluntarily explained), but not on the fact that the whole photo is “reality” completely distorted to show you something you would not otherwise see. He purposefully put the tent there (probably to evoke exactly the feeling you had), and then you fault him for it.

      I already said I agree with you in principle, but I apply it to the whole photograph, not just the tent. Ultimately, the photographer wanted to show an interpretation of reality. I don’t see a difference between that photo and a painting (but I like the photo better than nearly all painting I have ever seen).

      1. Photojournalism’s standards have fallen right along with journalism standards. We can no longer believe what we see, read, or hear.

        I don’t consider the long exposure here to be deceit. But knowing the tent was planted ruined it for me. If only I hadn’t seen that particular discussion …

  2. A photo is a record of an instant in time. A factual record. It’s not supposed to be staged.
    A painting is an interpretation/ a subjective view. We don’t expect it to be factually correct.
    The image is beautiful except that tent. As a artist, that yellow is too flat to fit that location. It looks like a kid’s sticker stuck on there. Really out of place for me. Litter on the scene.

    1. It was a real letdown for me. The tent made the photo for me. Then after I found out it was a plant, it ruined the photo. Now it’s just another photo of Half Dome — notable only for the planted tent.

... and that's my two cents