Wanna Start a Fight on Vivid Light?That’s how an email from Joe Farace started out.Joe shared with me the following email exchange with his friend MP regarding the motorcycle image on the left:

“Did you enjoy the motorcycle show?”“Yes,” I say, “here is a photo I made”.Then he says: “Is that a photograph or an illustration?” So I says: “Aren’t they the same thing; it doesn’t matter if you use a pen, pencil, or camera does it?”
So what do you think folks? Once you modify an image in Photoshop does it become an illustration and cease to be a photo? Is every photo simply a type of illustration? Is there a difference? And if you modify a photo in Photoshop are you doing something wrong if you still call it a photo?
Here is a sample of reader’s replies:

  • Name: Brian

Opinion

Once you change an image it ceases to be a photograph. even if all you do is sharpen it. A photograph is what was in front of your lens. No more. No Less

 


  • Name: Martin Kaiser

Opinion

Brian, that’s ridiculous. Are you trying to tell me that all those black and white negs I dodged and burned in the dark room weren’t photos?

 


  • Name: Brian

Opinion

The comparison doesn’t apply. How much do you really change an image in teh darkroom compared to a computer?


  • Name: Martin Kaiser

Opinion

Son you’ve obviously never been in a darkroom. You can do a lot to a photograph. Just look at what Ansel Adams was able to accomplish. Pick up his book the Print. You’ll be amazed and what you can do with some good old fashioned chemicals.


  • Name: Freeman

Opinion

according to www.dictionary.com

photo is a picture of a person or scene in the form of a print or transparent slide; recorded by a camera on light-sensitive material.

photograph is an image, especially a positive print, recorded by a camera and reproduced on a photosensitive surface.

And illustration is an artwork that helps make something clear or attractive.

So, I guess, if a patricular artwork was make for a specific purpose, to define or help explain something is an illustation, otherwise it would be a photo. It’s depend on what the intention of the creator is.

From my own personal opinion, does it matter? I’m not a true american, wasn’t born and raise in the US nor English is my first language. To me photo, photograph and illustration are just words, they don’t mean anything, it’s just another form of an artwork.


  • Name: Kevin Parnell

Opinion

It is still a photo as long as you do nothing more to it than you would in a traditional darkroom, or with a special effect filter on your lense. Dodge, burn, masking, etc are all things you could do in a darkroom. You going to tell me that Ansel Adam’s work isn’t a photography because he did a lot of darkroom processing?

 


  • Name: Brian

Opinion

If he substantially changed the negative then it’s an illustration fo the scene and not a true photograph. Besides the reasons are different. WShen Adams was shooting the quality of film was much less. Today you CAN capture what is in front of your lens. Resorting to Photoshop tricks just means you’re not a good enough photographer to actually capture the image

 


  • Name: Barbara

Opinion

Its not Photoshop that makes the difference. It the maker and what he/she does with the image. It can happen in the darkroom or the lightroom. But too much alteration, rather than just bringing out the best of the existing image, makes it an illustration.


  • Name: David Sandoz

Opinion

Photography is just one way to produce an illustration. Before photography, illustrations were by default hand made. Now we have technology to produce more exacting representations of what we see or need to present to others in a kind of visual explanation.


  • Name: Dusan Jez, (mr.), Slovenia, Europe

Opinion

Usung Photoshop we start to look at photographies only as “raw material” for further changes, much more as it was in the darkroom. So we care less when taking pictures (as everything can be corrected later) which is a bad “side effect”. I made a big exposition of photos (“titled “Kiss of life”)for which I do not know if these are photos or illustrations. I photographed graffiti on the walls of my town and painted a lot over them in Photoshop. You can see these “wild” photos- or illustrations (?) on http://dusanjez.here.ws Dear editors, if you wish to write an article about it four your magazine, I can explain more about the limits where photography ends and an illustration starts. I would be honoured if I could write it about it and send you enough photos from my exhibition which was a success in my town Ljubljana (Ljubljana is the capital of Republic of Slovenia).

All best,

Dusan Jez Free lance photographer, Ljubljana, Slovenia, Europe

 

 


  • Name: Richard DeMuth

Opinion

Must we pigeonhole everything? It is all manipulation: filters, fisheyes, telephotos, dodging, burning, b&w, infrared, color, etc. Some manipulating is done before the image reaches the film/digital other manipulating takes place after developing and processing. It is the degree which may differ. Still the result is a photograph. You can call it beautiful or ugly – that is a judgement call. You can call it over manipulated or distorted – that is a judgement call. You can call it anything you wish but it is still a rendition of something “photographed and processed” which we call a photo. It all comes down to the interpretation by the photographer of his/her world. You may not like the interpretation but he/she has used to photography to illustrate that interpretation. Besides that my friend who is an illustrator (inks and paper) doesn’t wish to be confused with a photographer.


  • Name: Garry

Opinion

You are wrong Brian. Even today’s film can’t capture the wide latitude of some scenes, so some photographers combine various exposures digitally. This has nothing to do with being a good or bad photographer. This is like calling Johannes Vermeer a bad artist because he was frequently using a camera obscura. In the end it is about the image, the art direction and the feeling it evokes, and not the process used in getting there. If someone does not have a good eye for Images digital tools won’t help him or her fix that anyway. Computers are just one of the creative tools available. Making yourself believe that digital tools are a form of cheating will stop your creative evolution. Mindsets like yours where obstacles for many artists throughout history, but eventually the art triumphed over such closed minded people.


  • Name: Richard H. Weiner

Opinion

One illustrates a point…not, one photographs a point.

But if ‘to illustrate’ (in this case) is to ‘make clear’ which usually entails using words, and if the old adage ‘a photograph is worth a thousand words’, then I guess one *does* indeed ‘photograph a point’.

This probably has nothing really to do with the current argument but I figured I’d throw it into the pot.

;}

Richard


  • Name: avi

Opinion

photo image is illustration -


  • Name: William Snyder

Opinion

Photoshop is the electronic darkroom, but you have a lot more creative controls in photoshop. If you stick to the basic photo touchup tools and make the photo look like it was seen when you pressed the shutter it is still a photograph. Ansel Adams used what was available at the time just as we are using what is available to make the photograph.


  • Name: grant yates

Opinion

it becomes an illustration and i not a true record


  • Name: grant yates

Opinion

it becomes an illustration and is not a true record


  • Name: Jack Goodman

Opinion

Putting anything NEW in a photograph makes it an illustration. Taking objectionable items out does not debase its basic photgraphic nature. The problem really is: is changing the contrast or the saturation or other similar parameters adding something.


  • Name: Dave E.

Opinion

I have no problem with images being manipulated in Photoshop or other softwares. However, it is the photographer’s responsibility to disclose the fact that the original image has been modified, except for minor enhancements such as contrast adjustment, sharpening, etc. Authenticity is at issue. Whether its considered an illustration or photograph, well, that’s up to the person viewing the image.


  • Name: Garry

Opinion

I have posted a message for Brian but it has been removed by the staff of this website. I find it very funny, and at the same time disturbing that someone’s opinion would be censored on an open forum, especially one that deals with creative issues. This is a smaller scale example of what our media does.

If you can’t deal with peoples opinions and written human interaction, and resort to censoring your page by only keeping messages that you like, I suggest you go sell insurance or become a genitor instead of running a public website.


  • Name: Karen

Opinion

I live near Salem Mass and have been shooting the coast for the last 25 years. For the past three years I’ve been scanning old slides and producing both black & white and color prints for local galleries. Sunrise shots are really popular and I’ve noticed they sell a lot better when I pump up the saturation. So according to some people here I should somehow label my images since they aren’t really photos any more. Is pumping up the saturation on an old Kodachrome 25 really any different than using a film like Velvia today?

Since I can combine Velvia with a couple of ND filters and long exposures to get similar effects should I label those images as illustrations even though the final print looks EXACTLY like the original slide?

Why to people get so freaked out because something is done outside the camera instead of inside it? It’s all part of the creative process.

Karen


  • Name: Jim McGee

Opinion

Garry, I was looking through the responses so far this morning and I noticed your post. I haven’t edited anyone at this point. I check in periodically and the only time I’ll intercede is if a really nasty flame war starts or if someone is using language not fit for “polite” conversation. So far I think the exchange is pretty interesting and I haven’t touched anything. If for some reason your post didn’t get added please let me know directly at mcgee@vividlight.com


  • Name: John Blanton

Opinion

It’s an illustration.


  • Name: Nicolette

Opinion

still a photo, because the most important part that you use is the photo. And without the photo you couldnot make this result. And the good part is you get creativity.


  • Name: Richard

Opinion

As a working Photojournalist, if the image was not captured strictly by the camera and has been modified in any manner (think of what an untouched film negative would look like), then it is a photograph. At times slow exposures or lighting effects may need a disclaimer, but they are still photographs.

If the photo is edited with PhotoShop to add texture or clone or remove anything, it technically becomes a Photo illustration. Overall brightening or contrast changes to a limited degree are considered OK by most Photo Editors, as they are to correct for errors in the workflow, not to enhance or modify the image.

As for this photo, it becomes a matter of ethics. Ask the photographer if it was edited. If he says no, then it is a photo. (He will then need to explain the photo technique to back up his claim) If he says yes, then it is an illustration.

If I was ever caught “touching up” an image (Taking out a sign in the background, etc) that would be the day I get my last PJ paycheck.

Of course the world of stock photography has much more wide open rules, and there the point is to create a beautiful image, not an ethically intact image.


  • Name: Mike U

Opinion

For me, I think it is most important how the photographer presents the piece. Meaning, if there are multiple exposures, sandwiching, masking, significant cloning in/out whether in traditional or digital photography, I would like that disclosed to me. Just like captive vs non captive subjects.

I say that because most forumns (magazines or web sites) that I read are teaching and learning sources for me. Such as this one. I am that audience. If I was not a photographer, perhaps I would have a different view, and might not care for disclosure. Then again, I might not be here in the 1st place, then.

Any way, in the end, I judge the image/illustration for what ever it is trying to get across. And I either dislike, don’t care for or marvel at the work. I really don’t label it after that.

Just like films of yester-year and even today, there are still limitations at what it can present. Like wise, digital even requires a certain amount of sharpening to reflect a worthy image. So each has its plusses and minuses.


  • Name: charlie

Opinion

Illistration


  • Name: D’Artagnan

Opinion

They’re all images.


  • Name: Dusan Jez, Slovenia, Europe

Opinion

Richard is right, his (professional) explaining the situation is exact and clear, all the rest is philosophy. I thought it the same way, but he only confirmed my previous thoughts. So my “Graffiti” exhibition (http://dusanjez.here.ws) is an exposition of illustrations, on the other side my b&w photos on the same pages are pure photography. Would you agree, Richard? You are invited to see the pages and make the judgement by yourself. Regards, Dusan Jez


  • Name: Scott

Opinion

All this debate…it just makes me appreciate that much more the marvelous abilities of the human eyeball. :)


  • Name: Richard G.

Opinion

If it’s film based it’s photography. If it’s pixel based it’s photo/graphics.


  • Name: jillifrog

Opinion

I am more interested in the quality of the images I create than the method I used to make them. But, technically, if you could do it in a real darkroom it should still be a photo. It is still a photograph whether I use a film or digital camera. When I was in art school 100 years ago, there was an issue of is it art or illustration.

Although I significantly saturate colors I personally draw the not a photo line at free handing design elements beyond a reasonable percentage, -25%, and always note those images as altered.

 

 


  • Name: Bob

Opinion

I wish all you guys would put all your heads toghter and maybe start to relize that, in the days when,a wet room was all that could be had (darkroom)Now a dry room (Computer room) is available.The difference being one’s individual prefernce. They both have there extremes in manipilation. I rest my case.———– Thank you all, I love them both.


  • Name: Matt

Opinion

It doesn’t matter what is done in Photoshop or a darkroom. If it came from a camera originally, its a photo.


  • Name: Ron

Opinion

I am reminded of the arguments between the horse and buggy fans and the automobile fans. Both got you where you wanted to travel, thus both were modes of transportation. Any photographer who uses a filter or uses the darkroom or uses the computer changes what was before the lense. What about the new films such as Fuji that increase the contrast far beyond what was before the lens, does the type of film used make one picture an illustration and another a photo? Get over it folks and spend your time making memories.


  • Name: Terry Bonham

Opinion

I call my digital images images. This takes the argument out of the illustration–photograph issue as far as I am concerned.


  • Name: Reinier Munguia

Opinion

Let’s define illustration as we know it today in our computer age. Most people in the graphic industry consider an illustration those creating using a vector graphic (Adobe Illustrator, Freehand, CorelDraw) on formats such as WMF, EPS. Illustrations can also be those created by hand-painted on acrylics, watercolors etc. Photo-illustration is a composition of one or more images either blended together or composed by either manual or computer intervention. Typical photo-illustration includes images composed from several images put together into one, a collage made with photos can be considered a photo-llustration. Taking several photos and blending them in Photoshop to create a complete separate entity is photo-illustration. The person who took the originals, can call them photos, as he is the one holding total ownership of the image as he or she is the author. If this photographer decides to blend them in photoshop to create a whole different image, then it should be considered an photo-illustration. It happened to me several times that I took images for big companies that were later used on designs that included modifications and alterations to the photo. I can only claim the orginals provided to the client, not the final worked created by a computer artist. I can go take several images with my digital camera and create a panorama, I didn’t do anything to chance the actual photo, but merge or stitch several of my originals to make the pano. In this case I’m still in the role of the photographer as long as I dont make changes that alter the actual composition or elements that were in the site when the photo was taken. Color corrections and enhancements are accepted. In the case of out photo here, presents a case of post manipulation, that sets this as a photo-illustration. If I have to judge this in a competition, I’ll have to put it in the computer or graphics category rather than the photography. When judging photography I want to find the original work (even if it’s retouched for color correction) not the computer modified. If we accept this as a photographer, we’ll have to recognize the person who modified the image as a photographer- in many instances that’s not the case. There are big difference between the photographer and the computer artist and such differences rely on who took the photo and who modified and how much deviation was created from the original. A computer artist should not be confused with a photographer or viceversa and their products should be considered two different things. This is just my idea and what I have seen in the industry. It’s up to us to interpret what we think is right.

Reinier Munguia Professional Photographer Professional Illustrator www.wildstockphotos.com


  • Name: Jerry Turner

Opinion

I think that Photoshop and similar tools are just that: wonderful tools with which we are able to improve our photographs in much the same way we were already doing so with filters, films, and traditional darkroom techniques. I believe that a photograph modified in the digital darkroom is still a photograph.


  • Name: Jack Cowper

Opinion

The word ‘Photograph’ is from the Greek meaning “To paint with light,” so if the origional start to your “Image” is created with light no matter how you alter it , it is at worst, an amended photograph. And at best an improved photograph.


  • Name: Mona

Opinion

What I can do with lense, filters, lighting, etc. on my camera I can have much more control over with Photoshop. Why can’t we dub them both? Photo Illustrations? Who cares as long as we get our meaning or message across to the viewer? I totally love all the responses and arguments – I am still bummed out that people think if I use the computer it is no longer “art” but illustration. I get that message from family, friends, as well as at conferences.


  • Name: Dave

Opinion

I say there is no correct answer to the question, plain and simple every image that has been recorded is an interpitation, the camera does not even have the ability to record all that truly makes up an image. Image manipulation has been part of the equation since the beginning of image recording, there is just no such thing as a pure image…


  • Name: joy

Opinion

hi brian,

problem is, photography has different meanings to different people. some believe it is just the capture of what is in front, some believe in the end result and does anything to achieve it, for example, see some of dan heller’s photos at danheller.com; he did double exposure tricks to show the moon out of proportion to create a surreal effect. u can say that is not a reality, but when many people see and say “aaaah wow” then the creator’s purpose of creating the photograph is justified, period.

also, photography is a subjective art. like all arts, it takes a lot of pain and effort to extract the “oooh” and “aaaah” from people who see the final product. it is not dependant on technology, neither we can put limitations on it. film/digital/photoshop all are like tools just like the artist’s brush and canvas. they have evolved over time, but that does not help a newbie to start producing mind boggling art from the start. when one knows the picture in his mind’s vision, whetever be the technology availble, it will come out. technology may cut short some of the yesterday’s laborious processes in that vision-to-result workflow but it does not enhance the value of art. a sharpened picture may make a photograph look a bit snappy, but if the photo has tremendous artistic imapact, the sharpning by photoshop does not even matter… hope u get the point… in today’s world everyone is overwhelmed by the equipments and the things that can be done, so it is very natural for this type of question to arise, but, give a newbie a digital medium format, all filters, computer, photoshop and two way round trip ticket to yosemite or other national parks where ansel adams produced his masterpieces, and see if he can make art !!!

-joy


  • Name: Mike

Opinion

If you change the intent of the photograph, it is no longer a photograph.


  • Name: Roger Botting

Opinion

I fail to see what the debate is. It is possible, with some difficulty, to take a picture like this, without manipulation. It just takes a very innovative photographer to do it. They tend to be the guys and gals billing very big bucks.


  • Name: Dave

Opinion

Mike,

Now you have introduced a whole different set of questions,

What was the intent of the image and did that intent change when it was taken into a software program….

As I said, there is no definative answer to the question…


  • Name: Craig

Opinion

I have to agree with Reinier Munguia. To photograph, by definition is to write (graph) with light (photo). Any act of manipulation on the computer is not writing with light. Basic image enhancement, though, does not change the content, and therefore the image is still a photograph. When 2 or more images are combined electronically, or otherwise seriously manipulated, it cease to become a true photograph, and is now a photo illustration or other form of artwork. I often sharpen, clean up dust specks, adjust levels, etc. in PhotoShop, but as soon as I alter the content (aside from simple cropping) I can no longer call it a photograph. I’ve seen some great images made in photoshop that have their origination in a photograph, but the end result is far from actually having been written with light.


  • Name: Jerry

Opinion

It really depends on the extent of the editing. A well-shot image could be an illustration before it’s edited (and may not even need editing!), but you can turn a normal photo into a good illustration through some editing.


  • Name: Dave

Opinion

I am going to throw a little kink in the thread..

Now there is a little problem that creeps up here with the dictionary definition of a photograph due to technology!

The store that worked for up until September of last year had just installed a new print machine..I know, just follow along here..

The new machine was a Noritsu 2900, now this machine makes its prints by exposing traditional paper of what ever image is projected onto the paper, weather from a film negative, positive or, or a digital image from a disk or a card storage medium, in the ture sense of definition, because it uses light to make an exposure on photographic light sensitive emulsion it is a photograph as defined, but take into account, the exposure could be of a image that was created completely in a computer program and by definiton still be a photo, due to the fact it was painted with the light of the machine on light sensitive photo paper and developed in a traditional manner with photographic chemicals and exposure.

The line blurs a bit more with the advent of technology..

Dave


  • Name: John Diel

Opinion

I really think that there is a point where a photo becomes an illustration. I really think the photo of the motorcycle here is a good case in point. This is not something that you would be able to do in camera or even in a dark room (Someone might be able to, but I know I certainly wouldn’t). When a photograph has been significantly altered from the original (Just for sake of argument, let’s say beyond “normal” sharpening, color correction and exposure levels) the photograph becomes more “digital art”. The motorcycle here would normally be a static image. The motion blurring has been added (and probably a lot more) in photoshop. I really doubt that this is what the photographer saw when he took the photo. Hence, he has added major changes to ‘create’ an image that suited his (or a potential client?) taste. To my way of thinking, this is an “illustration” rather than a true photograph.


  • Name: Dave

Opinion

Problem is, I can have have created a very simular picture without the aid of a computer, using only the rear curtain sinc in one of my cameras and controling exposure and lighting.

To create the motion effect is actually quite simple if you have the correct shutter sinc in the camera your using. and it can be created with the correct filter if so desired.

 


  • Name: Stan

Opinion

If you look up the root words that make up photography it means drawing with light. The camera obscura was a form of photography and so is digital. I’ve done most of the things I have done in Photoshop by using conventional wet darkroom techniques, so what is the difference? NONE.


  • Name: N Putman

Opinion

My opinion is that it’s still a photo. I don’t see it any different than “dodging and burning” in the darkroom. Of course, it would depend on exactly how much modification was done. I think this issue has to be judged on an individual basis. Thanks.


  • Name: Guy Buckingham

Opinion

Sometimes because people have created categories in an area we think that of course something has to fit neatly into one of these categories. These categories are arbitrary. It isn’t like putting the square peg in the square hole; there isn’t a correct answer. In other words I think that the categories are too fluid, too personal and obfuscate the important idea. To me, the only thing that is important is does a viewer obtain the feeling and meaning the creator intended? In other, other words it is both a photo and an illustration, but it does not necessarily matter.


  • Name: Wayne Naughton

Opinion

Yeah, well David Hockney reckons photography is finished as an art form, so I don’t know why anyone bothers anymore. Who honestly cares whether a photograph is a photograph or an illustration? (whatever that means) Or a piece of art (whatever that means) or a documentary proof of a given moment in time (pull my other leg) I’ll do anything, ANYTHING to get an image that is acceptable to me and manages to get my point of view across to a third party and if you don’t think it’s a photograph, well my friend, I couldn’t care less.


  • Name: Wayne Naughton

Opinion

(quickly, quickly)….oops, Sorry Guy, left the ‘s’ off of ‘friends’Nothing personal meant to you…or anyone else for that matter. Apologies.


  • Name: Don Marcotte

Opinion

Deep down I think that intensive manipulation makes a photograph into an illustration. At the intellectual level, it doesn’t matter. The former comes from being a member of a camera club who enters competitions. The latter comes from seeing what successful pros do. If it sells, they’ll do it. However, the purist in me thinks it’s wrong, wrong, wrong.


  • Name: NARCISSUS ALEMAO

Opinion

A PHOTOGRAPH IS A PHOTOGRAPH IS A PHOTOGRAPH. WHETHER CLICKED ON CAMERA AND MANIPULATED IN PHOTOSHOP IT IS STILL A PHOTOGRAPH. ONCE THE PHOTOGRAPH IS CHANGED IN TOTALITY AND ESSENCE IT BECOMES AN ILLUSTRATION.

THANK YOU. NARCIS


  • Name: Lolita Bobb

Opinion

A modified photograph in Photoshop is an illustration. There is nothing wrong in modifying a photo, as long as you portray it as such, i.e., a modified or digitally modified photograph!


  • Name: Rchie B

Opinion

“Resorting to Photoshop tricks just means you’re not a good enough photographer to actually capture the image” Hogwash. Every art form changes and evolves. If you stick to the dictionary definition of art, man, your stuck. Is color film photography? I have friends who would argue it is not. And digital in general? My own work, starts with a digital, and manipulated in Photoshop & Painter to the point where it is obviously not a photograph, but alas, not quite an illustration, a photo/Illustration? I don’t care what you call it but and to say that to use Photoshop is to make up for a lack of skill a bit off the mark.


  • Name: Steve

Opinion

Whether in a darkroom with film or a computer with digital, you are still playing with a photgraph. Pixels or grains of silver,in the end its all the same. Whether we do it in a camera ,darkroom, or computer, We,as photographers, are in the business of maniplulating light.


  • Name: Sammy

Opinion

Let’s say you take a photograph and then you manipulate it in some software program. And if the end result is 50% photograph and 50% manuipulation, then you are only half the photographer you think you are.


  • Name: Vincent Leleu

Opinion

Artist Photographers or better Photography Artist should be right denomination for what we do (or at least some of us do). The reason for that is that camera/photography, paint/painting, clay/sculpting are expressive means and a way to hopefully produce a piece of Art.

The purists will complain that a photo has more value than a photo transformed into an “illustration” but what they really do is constraint in using the camera to produce “just” a photo and not a piece of Art.

Using a camera is a mean to produce a piece that expresses the feelings of the Photography Artist and that’s only the beginning in porducing a piece of Art.


  • Name: Patricia Reynolds

Opinion

Welcome to the 21st Century Folks – get used to it! “The old road is rapidly changing”… as dear old ‘Bob D’ once sang. When all is said and done, it’s all ‘image making’- hopefully the end result is worthwhile and results in some form of reaction from the veiwers of those images.

It makes me laugh whenever I note this form of debate regarding photography – the poor old ‘purist’ photographer has always been up against it… battling to have his or her ‘craft’ recognised as ‘art’ – now along comes digital manipulation, threatening once more to shove the humble photograph off the artistic stage again!

I say… embrase change, move with the times & get over yourselves! This is coming from a 52 year ‘oldie’who is just hoping she doesn’t drop off the perch before she gets to learn and enjoy everything that these new forms of technology have to offer. In my life I have been a painter and photgrapher, I’m now combining the two to ‘paint with light’on my computer – and I’m enjoying myself more than I ever did before! Hopefully that’s what it’s all about.


  • Name: Amit Vaidya

Opinion

I feel that a photograph to me is how I would like to show it, it could be just the natural photo that I took with my camera and lens (analog)or in certain situations it could be a modified version of that..

It depends upon what I want to be highlighted/portrayed in the photo


  • Name: Doug

Opinion

Photo enhancing has been around since the begining. Dodging, burning, multiple exposure, correcting exspoure, correcting photos with smudge pens etc. is nothing new and those are all still considered photos.

In my opinion photoshop and others offer a way for you to apply effects that could have been added at the time of shooting (diffusion filter, N.D, color filters, etc.) and also put the control over blemishes, color correction, dodging, burning, etc. into the hands of the photographer who took the picture instead of the lab that is developing it. The lab has no idea of the photographers vision and I think the photo stays truer to the photographers vision and he/she can enhance it as they envisioned it.

I think there is a point when a photo has been so far “altered” and/or created(or parts of the image created)that the photo is no longer a photograph but becomes more of a piece of “art”.

For what it’s worth-


  • Name: Kevin Wright

Opinion

I think if you Photoshop the picture to adjust the contrast or make MINOR corrections to it you can still call it a photo. If you use Photoshop to create an impressionistic imgae (See the example you provided) then you can’t possibly call it a photo and it is an illustration.


  • Name: Feri

Opinion

Most things you can do in darkroom have equivalents in PS. Telling that any touch in PS to photograph makes it an ilustration or computer graphics is WRONG. The line between “real” photograph and ilustration is fuzzy and I do NOT agree, that PSing photograps is bad. Even in classic photographic processes there are ways to make photograph to look like ilustration – and it still is photograph.


  • Name: ian

Opinion

Hello Everyone. All of the comments are very interesting. I dont see the point in the debate, however. It seems that everyone is arguing for the sake of arguing. Does this topic ONLY matter in terms of competitions? I have not yet entered one.

So what happens if I decided to make marks with a black permanent marker on a print I made or had made for me. In our ever-increasing need for classification, what would this be? Is this a pen and ink illustration? Is it a analog-modified photograph? If I scan said image into a computer & adjust whatever I like in a program like Photoshop, what is it then? What if I change the tone of what is now a large amount of ones and zeros? So now you have something that was modified approximately 10 times or so. Modifications include (assuming film was used originally) opening shutter to expose film, developing film, exposing paper (including burning/dodging, etc.), developing paper, using permanent marker, scanning, adjusting for scanner quality, making adjustments for tone, adjusting for printing, and finally, printing. What is the resulting thing sitting in your hands? Perhaps I am being a bit absurd here, but I think it illustrates the argument well.

In addition we all probably would have been better off spending the time required to read all of the posts and compose our own unique reply for composing a new image (or improvement to an existing image).

Best of luck to all capturing those photons around to make a something we all like to show off to others (and ourselves!)

Ian


  • Name: Joseph Polevoi

Opinion

Artists have not been burdened with the tired old rules that define photos. From the beginning of the photographic process, folks seeking to convey more than just a record of a scene produced artistic photo variations. Their goals have been to define an emotion, something with impact, something requiring a quality many photographers could never achieve…a personal statement made possible with a creative eye. Black and white photos, photos enhanced in darkrooms, filters, adding textures etc. change a capture into something different and fascinating. The advantages of Photoshop and other photo-editing programs are endless. When a photo is worked over extensively it could referred as a photo-art or photo illustration. Don’t discourage photographers who are really experimenting for the first time to feel they are doing something less than honest.


  • Name: roy calderon

Opinion

From my perspective, if you significantly change the image your got on your camera (either film, slide or digital) then you create an illustration. In this particular case I would say it is an illustration more than a photo… but as with anything related with art, there is no clear black and white… there are many many shades of gray.


  • Name: Debabrata Das

Opinion

As per the dictionary, once you tamper the original (what was there before the lens), it’s no longer a photo. It becomes an art work (or probably a mess).

Whether it’s an illustration or not will depend on a) the intention b) the degree of the digital tampering done c) the final shape.

But the situation has changed with the advent of digital age, and the distinction between photo and artwork has become ambiguous.

Earlier, only the experts (or semi-experts) used to do the darkroom tampering, merging of slides, pushing, etc.

These days even the most novice photographer has easy access to the best of softwares (PhotoShop, CorelPaint, etc.) which can do more than what was earlier thought possible in the dark room.

Let me give an example…

If I am into (say) fashion photography, I would need (apart from the model) a hair-styler, make-up man, costume designer, lights, etc. So the dressed-up model before my lens doesnot look like her original self anymore.

If I now take a photo of hers, would you call it a photo or an art-work?

If it’s a photo, then what is wrong if I don’t have lights and don’t hire a make-up man or the fancy costume designer and instead do the needful (digitally) after the photo has been taken?


  • Name: Fred

Opinion

Brian is an ignorant amateur (a person who engages in an art, science, study, or athletic activity as a pastime rather than as a profession) who still needs to learn 99% more about photography than what he knows now. Everybody ignore anything he writes, as it’s uniformed, infantile and naive. It’s obvious that he’s spent little if any time in a darkroom. If he’s got 10% of the time I’ve put in (about 10,000 hours over the past 25 years), I’d be surprised. Any decent darkroom jockey knows that a good photograph, like all things in life, is made up of a wide range of greys, not just black and white. His definitive statement that ANYTHING done to a photograph in any way makes it no longer a photograph is such an example of black-and-white thinking. If he’s saying that anything can turn a photograph into an illustration, then he’s saying that by using a filter on the camera’s lens does not change it, but using the same filter on the enlarger does.

There are a number of simple and logical ideas on when an image is changed, none of which are absolute and allowing for a wide range of interpretation by individuals. One is that if you do anything to a photographic image in Photoshop that you can’t (or in Brian’s case anyone he can hire) do in the darkroom, then its nature as a pure photograph can challenged. Another is that if you change the nature of the image by 51%, then it might no longer be considered a pure photograph.

So, that’s the two cents from a guy who started with a plastic fantastic in the 60s, worked fashion, product and corporate for 15 years with everything from 35mm to 11×14, photojournalism for 10 years and now loves the hell out of his Photoshop.

Let the flaming begin.


  • Name: Douglas Graham

Opinion

As a photo editor at a major Washington D.C. wire service I hear this question all the time. We have a policy that states that news photos can not be manipulated beyond burning, dodging and color correction. If a photo has been manipulated then we clearly label it as a photo illustration. News photographers have lost their jobs at papers last year for changing the content of their news images and rightly so. One at the L.A. Times and one at the New York Times. I feel if the photo has been changed in content then it should be labeled a illustration. Its only fair to the reader to label the image as a photo or illustration and then people can enjoy it for what it is.


  • Name: Gordon

Opinion

A photograph remains as such as long as you do not add or take away anything that was or was not in the shot when you took it. Cropping aside,what you have left is still what you shot.


  • Name: Dave Hampton

Opinion

Or maybe a more reasonable question is, to what degree can an image be modified and still be considered a “photo”? Are photos “modified” by the likes of Weston and Adams in conventional darkrooms simply illustrations?


  • Name: Gene Palmiter

Opinion

As with film..its a matter of degree. If I crop and dodge and burn I can run it in the newspaper I work for and call it a photograph. If I have to cut it apart and put it back togather…its an illustration. In photojournalism the viewer has to trust his eyes. If they cannon…don’t call it a photograph.


  • Name: JD

Opinion

That dodging and burning issue is tough to get past. Is Photo shop just a digital version of dodging and burning? If you aim your lens at a stationary object, car for example, and then drop a Cokin blurring motion filter in to make it seem like its moving, does it cease to be a photograph? Are all photos just illustrations in the end? I think a digitally enhance images makes it an illustration but I am not comfortable with that..


  • Name: Tom W.

Opinion

The use of photoshop on an image doesn’t necessarily change it into an illustration or an abstract work of art for that matter. Much depends on what modifications are done and what purpose the original photo serves. Obviously, photos intended to “capture that moment in time” cannot be altered beyond the usual contrast, sharpness, color temperature and other adjustments that are often necessary to regain realism that may have been lost in an image. But when one starts modifying a picture beyond what is real, it begins to cease being a photograph and starts becoming something else. Whether that something else is art or an illustration or something else would be something to be determined by the creator and his or her audience.

There is no dividing line between a photograph and an illustration, but there is a sliding scale that is moved both by the amount and type of modification and the intent of the image.


  • Name: PhotosGuy

Opinion

Change it, or don’t change it. Either way, it’s art & will be judged on it’s own merits.


  • Name: Bob

Opinion


  • Name: Bob

Opinion

IMHO, it takes a good photo to start but, great dark room work (digital DR is the best)to make it art. Some have said if you need to do anything in the dark room it’s because your not good enough behind the camera. I submit with todays camera, anyone with a fair eye and a little knoledge can push the shutter release. It takes an artist to make it art and that art is made with great DR work.


  • Name: Laurie

Opinion

I think as long as it was captured with a lens that it still remains a photo when manipulated. I guess purists would consider my hand coloring to be making the photo into an illustration… but I didn’t draw the main images so from an artist’s perspective I think that it should still be considered a photo.

Why don’t we just call it all “Art”?


  • Name: Karl Schulmeisters

Opinion

Photography and drawing are both visual art forms, but they are different art forms. (As a side note, a quite brilliant art teacher I’ve studied with uses the term “illustration” as a derogatory description of pretty but emotionally meaningless images).

The uniqueness of the “art” of photography is that you have to work with what is in front of you. As a painter, my wife can remove distracting telephone wires from a scene – or do as Da Vinci did in many of his paintings, move structural elements of the surroundings to create visual geometries that are much more compelling (see _A Painter’s Secret Geometry_).

Until the advent of Photoshop, this was essentially impractical for most of photography (Pravda photos of the Politbureau notwithstanding). The tradeoff in photography was between a graphically more “realistic” capture of the image in trade for being limited by the “actual reality” being captured. And the _Art_ of the task was to control and imbue the content and meaning within this limitation.

‘Photoshopped’ images, therefore, are really drawings. Just as Picasso (and going back to the 1300s) and other artists would project images onto a canvas, and then “work the image” to what they wanted, so too, ‘Photoshopped’ images are drawings, not photographs.


  • Name: Stu

Opinion

“Resorting to Photoshop tricks just means you’re not a good enough photographer to actually capture the image.”

HAHAHAHAHA. Brian, that’s both silly and insulting. Are you aware that unsharp masking is a technique developed in old-fashioned darkrooms? Do you know what the movie industry means by “film timing”? How is “pushing” a film exposure philosophically any different from adjusting levels?

I can respect an absolute purism in technique, even if I am personally more interested in results, but it’s uninformed to limit the scope of “photographic technique” to snapping the shutter. That certainly has never been true for professional photography. Development processing, adjustment during enlargment and printing, choice of paper (and processing) for the prints themselves all have a significant effect on the end result. The digital era has not been especially revolutionary in this scene.


  • Name: Charlie Young

Opinion

Guess I’m a bit of a traditionalist…IMHO a photograph becomes an illustration when non-photographic elements are added to a photo. For example,putting objects on photo paper and developing it surely can’t be described as a photograph. I believe Mann Ray called them photograms…


  • Name: Joe Farace

Opinion

>For example,putting objects on photo paper and developing it surely can’t be described as a photograph. I believe Mann Ray called them photograms…

 

Charlie:

Here’s a question for you: Is putting flowers on a scanner, digitizing them, and making prints make them photograms?

Unlike traditional photographs that require no more light source than a flashlight and no lenses, but simply use photographic paper as a light capturing device (I guess you could call it “film” in a sense) and traditional processing. A scanner has a lens and in many ways is no different than a digital back on a MF camera. I am not picking on you, just trying to understand what kind of sematics are involved here. Thanks for understanding.

Joe

PS: I was a big Man Ray fan until I read “Black Dhalia Avenger.”


  • Name:

Opinion

I Dont see why this thinking continues, digital is the future of photography if you like it or not. you eather accept the changes or be left behind.

there will always be some who cannot accept change and cling onto different arguments.

we all have to accept this image as photography regardless of our personal tastes as in time im sure peaple will get bolder with there manipulations.


  • Name: Charlie Young

Opinion

Joe, Your point is well taken. I never thought about using a scanner in that way….So as long as a camera type device is used,it’s a photograph. And painting photo realistic pictures with Photoshop is illustration. Am I on the right track?


  • Name: Carlos

Opinion

Whenever I hear someone say that any work on an image after the shutter release is pressed means that the one pressing it isn’t a good photographer I can usually make certain assumptions about them. The first being that they have a very limited scope of personal experience in photography as a profession, an industry or even a hobby. I generally assume that the photo lab they most often use is Wal-mart and even then they don’t understand the process of getting their shots from film to print.

I’d suggest a bit of reading at minimum in order to understand the process.


  • Name: David

Opinion

Thought we got over this one years ago …

Painting/Illustration vs. Photography

Film vs. Digital

Ansel Adams vs. Jerry Uelsmann

Traditional Darkroom vs. Digital Darkroom

Photograph vs. Illustration

Jerry Uelsmann is still listed as a photographer, not an illustrator. And this was all done in a “real”(traditional)darkroom! I printed my photographs, Jerry orchestrated his works of art. Same prinicpal, different results. Same as Photoshop.

It is not if you use Photoshop, it is how you use photoshop. Photographers “use” Photoshop, illustrators master Photoshop. Big difference.

Great question … Thanks for keeping the “fight” going. Just what we need!

 


  • Name: Susan

Opinion

Some of the most searingly beautiful “pictures” I have seen were produced on glass. Are they photographs or are they images? I think that we have called them photographs, but perhaps we were sloppy in our language. Is film the only medium that produces a photograph? It sounds like a semantic argument. Just don’t imply that other forms for creating images, such as digital, produce lesser images than film. I admire all photographers who produce beautiful images whether with film or pixels. I don’t care whether they produced their work in chemically based darkrooms or through a computer program. We will see new forms of image creation in the future. I can hear us bickering then about what’s got the right to be called a photograph.


  • Name: Paul K

Opinion

I think once you move beyond what could of been done in the darkroom (Dodge/Burn etc.)then I think it becomes an Illustration. This goes the same way of inserting somthing into the image that was not there at the time of exposure. In my opinion that would be a Composite Illustration.


  • Name: shavox

Opinion

If it says something to you, if it’s good Who Cares? Creativity comes from the mind not the mechanics.


  • Name: Gary Robertshaw

Opinion

There will never be a perfect definition, but to me if the photo shows what the photographer saw through the viewfinder, then it’s a photo. If he goes beyond that, it’s Photoshop art. Understand that this doesn’t mean the photographer can’t make a lot of changes to the raw photo…the human eye often sees selectively, and is influenced by mood and environment. The photographer’s job is to be able to successfully transfer what he “sees” when he takes the photo; the mood, the feeling, everything so that others can see it also. Photoshop, darkroom, doesn’t matter, if it goes beyond that, it becomes artwork, not a photo.


  • Name: Fred Macomb Mi.

Opinion

I call some of the stuff that comes out of my printer “pictures”.


  • Name: vinnie ruddy

Opinion

well the word photograph is literally translated as a light painting. so in my opinion, even after youve photoshoppeed an image, its still a light painting. an illustration is any medium used to convey a thought. so a photograph is also an illustration. so its really a matter of semantics isnt it.


  • Name: Alfred Maragh

Opinion

Who cares? Photography can be for exact reproduction or artistic expression. Exact reproduction has its place and so does artistic expression. As more photo editing tools become available and accessible photographers will better survive if they become artists. It might be more beneficial to concentrate on this rather than an issue that may be purely of semantics. Does anyone remember that photgraphy is an artform? How one enhances its presentation is immaterial. I fully agree with the comment that by having strong convictions on defines a photograph as opposed to an illustration may be a vehicle to limit ones creativity. (Do you recall the debates some years ago about autofocus lenses? There were many conservatives who felt that manually focusing was an indication of superior talent as a photographer. Look around and see who has manual lenses.) It will be just a matter of time before we are all shooting digital and routinely printing with some amount of alterations. By the way, having some artistic talent allows one to take better pictures.


  • Name: Thomas Piepszak

Opinion

Once a photo is taken —it is a photo–anything that enhances the image as it was taken – from the digital information only – make it a picture. once you bring in outside factors that were not part of the original picture information — then it becomes an illustration


  • Name: RICK PRASKAC

Opinion

A manipulated photo, has a good amount of change A photograph, may have small adjustments. and then there are nearly totally digitally formed art, which form from almost any source.


  • Name: lucas macedo

Opinion

A photo is still a photo regardless of modifications, corrections made in the computer. Even if the original colors are enhanced or changed, sharpness, contrast or brightness are enhanced/modified. It will be an expression of how the photographer actually sees the scene. However, if graphically designed ( drafted ) elemments are added IMO it becomes an illustration.


  • Name: Lucas Macedo

Opinion

Brian says that “resorting to Photoshop tricks just means you’re not a good enough photographer to actually capture the image”, IMHO that could not be more wrong! Photography is an art, and each artist “sees” a scene his own way. Regardless of how the image is captured by a camera, it can always be modified to actually show how the photographer saw the scene. You don’t tell a painter what type of enamels, brush or canvas he should use so his artwork can be called a painting ! …..


  • Name: Marvin Price

Opinion

A photo isn’t an illustration per say…

It is a photograph. It captures a slice of reality. Once modified, it becomes something else, another form of art. Nothing wrong with that, it just is.


  • Name: Marvin Price

Opinion

Question:

If I record a person’s voice, then modify the recording so that there are other sounds and the person is saying additional things, is it still a recording, or is it something else?


  • Name: Erik Davis

Opinion

Even though the origional print is a photo, I have a hard time calling this motorcycle a photograph, because it’s no longer life frozen in a moment of time, but rather a rendering of it, which makes it an illustration. Now if this was a photo either taken while the photographer or subject was in motion then it’s a photograph. However from the looks of it, this picture was taken while both the photographer and subject were still. The motion was rendered on photoshop, and greatly altering it, making it an “Illustration on how fast this motorcycle is.”


  • Name: Carl Johnson

Opinion

I think that if we draw the line with what was made in camera as a photograph, and everything else as illustration, then Ansel Adams would have been in trouble. Ansel’s approach to photography included post-exposure work in the darkroom as integral to the process. I think that if you could have done it in a traditional darkroom, yet choose a digital darkroom, you still have a photograph. It is when you start adding paints, texture, materials and other matter to the print after the darkroom that makes it more an illustration. Or, if you manipulate it digitally in PS beyond the capabilities in a traditional darkroom, then it is illustration. A multiple-image composite could also be an illustration, depending on the circumstances. I think that in the case of the motorcycle photo, it is an illustration because I do not think that technique would be possible in a traditional darkroom.


  • Name:

Opinion

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  • Name: John Horner

Opinion

The notion that there is some magical dividing line, or that it even matters, between a True Photograph and a Doctored Illustration is wrong headed.

There is no such thing as acurately capturing what was in front of the camera, and less interest in doing so.

The power of a photograph is in it’s ability to convey and/or provoke thoughts and feelings. How the photographer reaches that goal is mostly only of technical interest to other photographers.

The idea that any digital adjustment violates the integrity of a photograph shows a deep misunderstanding of both the technology and the art of photography, digital and chemical.

All photographs are abstractions and manipulations.

John


  • Name: Jerry K

Opinion

Why not look at it as an illustrative photograph. “Photography” comes from two Greek words photo and graphis. They mean to paint with light. All photographers manipulate their images, either in a darkroom or on a computer to achieve the “look” that they envisioned. They can also manipulate the image before the shoot it (exposure, lighting, perspective, composition, film choice, etc., etc.). Otherwise, just buy a PHD point-n-shoot and take the film to Wal-Mart.


  • Name: Beth

Opinion

Photoshop should only be used for technicalities such as burning, dodging and cropping. But since you can get the same effect with your camere, provided you know how, that should always be your first option. Constantly relying on photoshop to do these things and others reduces your ability to photograph great pictures initially. Any changes made to a photograph beyond those simple technicalities changes it into an illustration. I’m a photojournalism major, and this is a heavy topic of discussion in many places…so I’ve heard many opinions.


  • Name: jimmy

Opinion

the point here is that both are images… we create images, we talk we images, we say anithing we want with images, dont forget that!!


  • Name: Rob

Opinion

The breakdown of the word “photography” literally translates to “writing with light.” In this sense, photography is a sort of illustration.