Photographer vs Artist

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I love taking pictures.  I have a basic Canon PowerShot camera, not professional, but it does the trick for me.  I’m by no means a professional photographer, but I enjoy looking for a good shot and then capturing it.  I do not edit my photos.  I love the raw image.  I almost always leave my camera on the auto setting.  I realize that my photos could be edited and turned into an even more amazing image, but that’s not for me.

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For about a year now I’ve been on a photo sharing site on Facebook.  All the pictures are from Iowa.  The group doesn’t allow portrait photos, so it tends to be nature/scenery shots with the occasional event and fair photos.  I’ve loved being a part of this group and seeing how others capture photos.  Many times in the last year though I have seen debates about if highly edited photos are still photos or more artwork.  I’ve enjoyed reading people’s opinions on this, but I’ve always known where I stand on this:

A photo in its most raw form is a true photograph.  Minor editing, such as minimal sharpening, or removing red eye or blemishes, is ok, but beyond that it is no longer a photograph.  You are altering it and creating a new image out of what you originally captured.

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Those are my feelings on it, my opinion, and no one has to agree with that.  I’m not against edited pictures.  They can look absolutely amazing.  But to me they’re done by an artist, which is/can be different than a photographer.

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Look at it this way.  Anyone can pick up a camera and take a picture.  To me, a truly talented photographer is someone who can frame the shot and with just that one click capture what they wanted.  The level-ness, coloring, focus, framing, etc. is all correct and the picture can be printed as is.  That is talent and someone with a good eye.  An artist is someone who can frame the shot, but then uses software to edit, manipulate, build. and create the image they want to see.  Again, both are fine, but there is a difference.

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My personal preference always has been and always will be for the more raw photo.  I appreciate the patience it takes to get ‘that’ photo.  You don’t always get the shot you want the first time, but if you’re patient, and the stars align, you can get it.  When I see an edited photo that says the sky was taken from a different picture, the main image is made up of 3 photos, and the moon was brought over from a different picture as well, it doesn’t wow me in terms of being an impressive photograph.  When I look at a photo I want to see a believable image.  I want to see a moment in time that has been captured forever by the click of a button.  I want to be awed because nature really is that pretty and no one had to ‘fix it’ to be that way.

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I don’t want to sound like I’m coming down on those that choose to edit photos.  I know that takes talent as well.  You still have to have the right eye so that you’re not over-saturating the colors or cropping too much.  It still takes a great attention to detail and in the end can produce an absolutely beautiful image.

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I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Do you have a preference?  What makes you say ‘wow’ when you see a picture?

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