Will A Naturalist Comb Their Hair?

Posted by Greg Lawson on

It’s been decades since I first wrote a blog article asking photographers not to overplay their hand when it comes to denouncing image manipulation. I originally wrote the blog to rebuff what I saw as blind rhetoric coming from some in the image making business. Certain creators were talking about how they were only presenting ‘what the camera saw’ in their productions, moving some of their followers to eagerly adopt this seemingly purified perspective.

A lot of the folks espousing this doctrine were, and still are great and accomplished people, but they’ve allowed themselves to be overtaken with a notion or even a conviction that a camera image is somehow pure and any modification of that image is just not proper.

My vision of the reality has not changed. Every step we take while preparing to capture an image is a manipulation of elements. Camera choice; lens choice; DOF choice; angle of view choice; selective lighting choice; color balance choice; ISO choice; film selection or digital recording protocols each have their own inherent biases and a choice to favor that bias is an elective manipulation. A person, like myself who creates image-based art is also granted artistic license to manipulate. Know this too: manipulation is at the core of every art production regardless of the medium. When it comes to altering your images, my opinion is that the only wrongdoing comes from doing it and saying that you didn’t, or making the choice to create a damaging deception.

My elected roles in life are that of a naturalist, an artist and a sociologist.

Being a naturalist, the experience pursued is all about the experience in nature.  My purpose as an artist is to share some semblance of the reality and passion of that experience and to bring pleasure to others through doing it. My goals in sociology are to share positive values gleaned from a potpourri of social experiences. 

Please know that even though being a naturalist, I choose to comb my hair.