Is Photography still Photography when Photoshop is involved?

There has been some recent buzz in the photography world over the title and prize of a winning photograph in a contest
being revoked after analasis showed “too much photoshopping.”
This brings forward the ongoing debate of where the lines of photography versus digital art are drawn.
You can read the article here:
http://alishacrossleyphotography.com/blog/the-biz/why-i-cant-shoot-your-wedding-for-free-part-i-of-ii/

I personally went to photography school and spent half of my program being mentored by what I call “Photography puresists.” These are people that
have decided to keep the image in the camera as is and do zero post processing. Ideally I was drawn into this idea… If you get it perfect in camera then
Why spend any time “fixing” a photo after? It cuts costs of time and expensive software like Photoshop.
It goes back to the ideals of photography being capturing light naturally with composition being the number one focus of each image.

I jumped on this ship enthusiastically and strove the create images with my camera not with my mouse. I focused on detail and did create some wonderful
images.

Then I started studying the process of developing from film. I studied the greats like Ansel Adams and his dark room process. He once stated that his real art was done in the darkroom, not in the camera. What about the incredible Jerry Uelsmann? He manipulated images in a darkroom to create surrealistic masterpieces that broke through the boundaries of the mind.

ju_2These were not only accepted in the art world of the time, but praised! So where is it that people began to stray from the ideals of photo manipulation?

The camera changed the world as we knew it. Documenting events and lives were as simple as the closing of a shutter, advertising became about seeing the product instead of reading about it, and art took a whole new shape. Before the camera was invented painters strived to paint somewhat realistic images. The lighting and scale had to be perfect-that was what made you a talented artist. But since the camera came around painters no longer needed to be realistic. They could brush freely and use unnatural colors. The idea of abstract emerged into culture with a bang. Like I said, the camera changed the world.

Now, in the digital age, I see the same shifts happening. Cameras with great quality are easily available to the masses and so is the Adobe Suite. If someone has the money to invest in those items he can truly believe that he is a photographer. This wide availability makes it that much harder for a great photographer to be found.

 

© Jerry Uelsmann

So what does it take? Great skill in the camera can take you as far as the box that the real world surrounds you with. In my opinion, a great photographer must know how to break the bounds of reality. We are entering a new digital age of art. Where photographs can transcend the old means of capturing reality and progress into a whole new abstract dimension. We have the opportunity to take photography into a new realm just as Salvador Dali did with painting.