When a Photograph is “Photoshopped”, is it still Real?

Love it or hate it, Photoshop is a great tool that allows photographers the chance to manipulate a picture to showcase an idea as well as something that caught their eye. There is a reason behind every photograph taken by any photographer; what they saw or are seeing has a value that they want to share with others. The question that crops (pardon the pun) up though is when you create a photo by mixing images, changing composition or adjusting brightness, are you taking away from the original idea of photography.

Something to remember in all this is that photographers have always staged their photos (let’s ignore news photographers who are snapping photos of events) to make sure they are “perfect”; we pose our subjects, we adjust the brightness and contrast when we develop, we use different kinds of lenses that expand field, we use lights to change how the area looks, etc. In Photoshop, we are changing composition rather than moving the camera, we are removing red eye, and we are combining photos that were taken at different times and places to create…

Ahhhh…now here’s the rub for many photographers. It is the drastic manipulation of a picture or two or three to simulate an event that never took place and make it appear that it did. We can all argue that the pictures were taken and the events did happen, but the idea that we are changing the actual reality is the bigger problem for most.

What do you think?

Check out this Popular Photography Photo Contest from 2010.

Phtoshopped phot contests

Photoshopped Photos win a Photo Contest

2 of those pictures are Photoshopped and won a photo contest: the tornadoes chasing the motorcycle and the seagulls circling the lighthouse. Is that fair to win a contest?


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