The Myth of "True Photography"
Friday 27 February 2015 — Category: Thoughts
What is true photography?
Over the years I have come across many different opinions:
Because I can hawk my opinion as well as anyone else, if you ask me, the various proponents of “true photography” sound a lot like the various religious denominations, each of which claims it has a corner on the “true faith.” Although there IS such a thing as absolute truth — despite most of our modern culture insisting that truth is relative — “true photography” is NOT one of those absolutes!
The dictionary definition of photography is quite simple: The art or process of producing images of objects on photosensitive surfaces. You can use any type of camera, any type of lens, shoot film or digital, enjoy the photo straight out of the camera or process it heavily, and it is ALL still true photography! Who’s to say that it’s not?
You Don’t Take a Photograph, You Make It, I shared some quotes from that ascended master of photography, Ansel Adams:
When I’m ready to make a photograph, I think I quite obviously see in my mind’s eye something that is not literally there in the true meaning of the word. I’m interested in something which is built up from within, rather than just extracted from without.As a photographer, I often get asked about this or that picture: “But is that what it really looked like?” Regarding such questions, and the photographic process as a whole, I wrote in the same article:
You don’t take a photograph, you make it.... Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.
If you have to ask such a question, then you are totally clueless about what art and creativity are all about! ... Give your creativity free rein, push the boundaries, and think outside the box! You, as well as others, might be amazed at what you are able to create as you make photos, and not merely take them!It has been often said that “the best camera is the one you have with you.” It is just as true that the best photographic equipment is that which enables you to best capture that inner image which Ansel Adams was referring to. The image is what matters — the various pieces of camera equipment are merely the tools.
Common sense says to use the tools which work best for you and help you to achieve your goals. Such advice takes us away from the mystic belief that certain equipment or particular techniques are the “essence” of “true photography.” We photographers have been sidetracked and hindered by that myth for long enough!
These thoughts are continued and expanded upon in my next article, My Final Verdict on Prime-Lens-Only Photography.