Reading (and editing) the Karen Hutton interview we published in Landscape Photography Magazine, I couldn’t help stopping and paying attention to a specific section that talked about being a member of the club. As I feel the same way as Karen, I felt the need to write something about it myself to fully support her views.
The question from Tiffany Reed Briley (the interviewer) that sparked all this was: “There is much chat around the photography communities about how much Photoshop or manipulation is too much. What are your thoughts on that?” Obviously, if you want to read Karen’s detailed reply you will need to read the interview.
The short version is that she mentioned Ansel Adams, and how he engaged in his own equivalent version of Photoshop (manipulating the negatives), then expressed that she was concerned about ‘taking the heat’ for saying that. Personally, I fully support her and her views. I don’t think for a moment that there is a landscape photographer out there who doesn’t see Ansel as one of the great masters. And yet, he can clearly be considered as the biggest ‘Photoshopper’ of his day – all you need to do is read about his explanations on how much he worked on the film negatives, which is a technique equivalent to today’s Photoshop working on RAW files.
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My question to landscape photographers would be “do you want to simply record an event or do you want to add your own interpretation?” There is no right or wrong way to practice landscape photography. My question to all those landscape photographers who criticise others for the way they express themselves would be “are you happy with the way you photograph landscapes? And if you are, why don’t you let all others be happy with the way they photograph instead of being judgmental?” Talking of judgment, I must admit that I can’t stand the word. Who are we to judge others and, more to the point, what gives us the right to do so? I believe that this world would be a much better place if we all got along better instead of judging or criticising each other.
At some point in the past a good friend asked me if I ever looked over my shoulder to keep an eye on the competition. My reply was that I have an aim in my life, which is to run a successful business and enjoy my photography in a way that allows me to fulfil my life’s ambitions. If others have a problem with that, they can keep an eye on me over their shoulder.
My advice to all is to mind your own affairs, concentrate on what you enjoy doing and how you do it. This way all your energy can be concentrated on your aims, which will let you make sure you live a fulfilling and enjoyable life.
There are clubs and groups out there which believe that their way of doing things is the best and all others are wrong. Don’t feel the need to be a member of the club, any club. Do your own thing.