Feb 8, 2011
WHEN PHOTOGRAPHY BECOMES A RELIGION
After shooting religious subjects for over 10 years I've become very familiar with the matter. I never liked, and still despise, concepts like blind faith, dogma, absolute truth. They are much more human then divine and their final results are never positive, at least in they way I see life and social order.
Maybe is because of this that I become intolerant when I see the same principles applied to my life, embedded in photography of course.
I wonder who elected the priests and philosophers who dictate dogmas, the do and don't of photography, and on what book is based their wisdom. I'm not surprised that they find a wide audience of followers and believers: who doesn't in these times of emptiness?
The story of absolute truths in photography is long.
I still remember when "they" asserted then only black & white was the real photography, color being only a commercial emanation.
When "they" declared that digital was nothing, destined to a lower level of the art.
When digital printing was pilloried for being nothing less then a sin, a blasphemy.
Of course the digital era was a flood, but "they" found many arks, it seems.
So, after rapidly adapting to the new religion, the new dogmas were quickly posted on the web.
Basically the most recent commandments dictate that the only licit retouching of a photo are those that were possible on film and in the chemical darkroom. I wonder if this is because these are the only one they know.
You cannot crop an image more then a certain percentage. Again, what if the photographer has a camera with a viewfinder that does not show the whole frame?
You cannot remove even a cigarette butt from a photo, but is not important if you shoot only the dying man and leave the killer out of the frame.
And, what I find really funny, now you can shoot a digital color photo and convert it to black & white (this is licit and even admirable) but cannot change the colors (unless resembling the chemical cross-process or similar). When you decided to shoot with a film instead of another, was this admissible, even with completely different colors resulting?
I'm tempted to describe all this as crazy and stupid, but now that I know the sensitivity of a religion I'm careful. Not because I respect the priests or the believers, just because I can ignore them.
Basically this is the philosophy of the non-photographer, of the non-creative, the conservative that makes it's living talking about photography and not selling (which means showing to an interested public) the contents of those marvelous little squares called photos. It's a crowd that has populated our world since the beginning.
"They" talk like if this art is a set of rules, like if it's a game. In these times when photography has become a matter of contests more then publication, "they" thrive on the crisis, ignore or even deny it. Certainly are not contributing to the evolution of ideas.
If you happen to be a believer, try to make a step back and give a look to the all theater, not just to the stage. You may have a different impression. And start doubting the priests words. You may save photography doing this.
at 1:00 PM