The blurry line of ethical editing.

July 15, 2014  •  Leave a Comment
I was about to write this as a brief FB post but apparently I had way more to say than I thought. It actually all started with a link about over editing (link below)

http://www.mcpactions.com/blog/2010/03/22/how-to-avoid-over-editing-your-photos-in-photoshop/

My closest friends know how much some of these fads drive me freaking bonkers. I mean... nails on chalk board, make me cringe type of drive me crazy. Keep in mind while reading this blog that it is MY OPINION. If you do, have done or like any of the things on that list that's your personal choice just as much as these are my personal feelings. Also ask yourself do you actually like those things or do you like them just because they're "in". (i'm reminded of many of the fashion fads we all thought were fabulous but now looking back... not so much.)

I personally have made some poor choices while editing (who hasn't?) but at the time thought they were magnificent. Then I look back and I think "Yikes! What on earth did I do?"
 
I'm thankful to look back where I was to where I am now and see progress and growth over the years. Whenever I help people that are just starting out I remember the choices I made when I see them make similar choices. It's a stepping stone. Some of these are a must before you go any further. It's like babies when they learn to crawl/walk. Each child does it in their own way but the same. Some kids crawl for ever some kids crawl hardly at all. Shoot, it seems like some kids just start running right away, I swear! Well to me the same idea goes for photographers. Depending on backgrounds each persons photography journey is so different. It's an amazing thing to see people's journeys of how far they've come especially when it comes to photos. I love looking back at photos from even a couple years ago to see just how far people came and where their turning point was.
I have only been doing photography for 3 years now but I have an art degree behind me so that definitely helps understanding the basics of a composition.

I have been fortunate that many people in my life have always stressed learning the fundamentals (in everything) i've done.
It is SO important to learn the basics. But I can't help but be sad that I rarely see people push others to learn their camera, learn what they can do with it and learn how to do things properly. Photoshop has become a crutch. Actions have become a crutch.

My first of painting in 9th with grade Mrs. L. I was so excited to just grab a canvas and go to town but she didn't let us paint until we mixed our own black out of the primary colors. It was super annoying because it would have been so much easier to just buy a bottle of black paint.. seriously we had to pass that before we could touch any other paints. It was frustrating at the time but I can't help but appreciate her that much more for pushing us to learn the basics!

The process of learning to notice things first is comparable to reading the directions on how to put together a book shelf. Some people actually read the directions before they put it together, some look at the picture to put it together while others spend time guessing what goes where and end up taking it apart 10 times.
Each person is different but I personally strive to get things right the first time, in camera (still miss a lot of the time)
I love to take photos and I can't stand to edit. I'd rather spend 95% of my time behind the camera and 5% of my time behind the computer. I set a goal for myself over a year ago to try my best to notice&fix things before I press the shutter. Some people don't mind editing and some people prefer doing most of their work in post.. So then what is ethical and what isn't? It's an easy trap to fall into. Your news feed, magazines and papers are all flooded with images that have been retouched.
There are, what seems to be a billion, tutorials on how to retouch an image, how to slim a model, how to whiten teeth and add fake catch lights/sunflare/bokeh etc. but there seem to be very few articles pushing photographers to get it right before hand. I hardly ever find an article that says get it right before you snap it. I'm sure they exist but they seem to be few and far in between. It makes me sad to find that something I love is predominately an illusion. It also makes me sad for people that don't know exactly how unrealistic it is (sometimes).
 
These models that everyone strives to look like. Do they even look like that? Who knows any more

We have to ask ourselves... is it ethical? I'm seriously asking your opinion.. where is the line?
Ethical is defined as morally good or correct.
 
The title of this blog is the blurry line of ethical editing for a very good reasons. As I stated earlier on I have an art degree so I honestly do understand that art and beauty are in the eye of the beholder. So if a person is creating an image it is art. Photography is art.
Yes it is still art even if you or I don't like it.
By definition photography is defined as "the art or practice of taking and processing photographs."
So technically speaking yes the "over- editing" and "manipulating" is still photography and there are just different types. I use quotes because something that is over edited/or manipulated is also an opinion.

That is why it's so important for you, the consumer, to ask questions if you're going to get work done. Make sure your styles line up. Just because someone is inexpensive doesn't mean they're bad and just because they cost a lot doesn't mean they're good. Look at their work and ask them questions.

I personally don't want my eye balls to look like "Chucky"... but again it's all an opinion ;);)
Where is your line? What if you had your photos done and something was changed.. would you say something. Not go back? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!!



The National Press Photographers Association has a code of ethics ( https://nppa.org/code_of_ethics ) and thank God they do. I love to look at a photography and be able to trust that it's true.
 

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