Are your images Photoshopped?

This question is often accompanied by qualifiers and comments such as "Did you change the colors?," "These must be heavily edited," and "It didn't really look like that did it?"  To some people, "photoshop" means Photoshop software in particular, while others use it as a blanket term to mean editing. Given the connotations/associations and the variety of understanding of what it means to "photoshop," this is a multi-faceted question which defies a simple answer. 


Digital photographs are most commonly shot and stored as JPEG files. In this type of file, they are actually automatically edited by the camera to provide more color saturation and other adjustments to the image. I shoot in a format called RAW, which records the raw data of the image and comes out of the camera looking very flat and "blah." As such, it requires editing (also called post-processing) but unlike JPEGS, the artist has full control over the process rather than algorithms and software making the decisions.  I use a program called Lightroom (produced by Adobe) for post-processing. This program has some similarities to Photoshop, but in many ways is quite different as far as file handling and capabilities. So the short answer is yes, my images are edited but no more extensively than they are when I work with film in a traditional darkroom (see below for more on digital vs. film photography). 


Despite modern distrust in the truth of images, an underlying belief in the objectivity of photography persists.  "Photoshop" is usually considered a dirty word full of negative connotation.  We WANT photographs to be objective. Yet even photojournalism and product photography are not completely objective. The nature of the equipment itself and very decision made (framing, exposure, aperture, lighting, angle...let alone post-processing) alters the reality of the original scene and creates a particular perspective. Not to mention everyone views things with the filters created by their experiences, beliefs, and personal perspective. 


That said, my purpose (and that of art in general) is not to replicate reality but rather to portray how I see the subject and to create an emotional response. So the answer to "did it really look like that?" is yes, it looked like that to me.  We live in an amazing world; I don't feel it's possible to improve upon what exists in real life and don't see the point in merely duplicating it. I create, and art as a whole provides, an alternate experience and view of the world.  Like a good book, it is supposed to take you to another place, time, and experience. 


For a brief and informative article on the subject, go to http://digital-photography-school.com/is-photoshop-a-bad-word/


Is that really a photograph? How do you make it look like a painting?

Yes, it is a photograph and honestly, I have no idea! It's not intentional. It is simply my personal style which has evolved over time and is the result of how I do what I do.  It's actually a bit humorous and ironic since 1) I probably couldn't do it if I tried given my resistance and ineptitude with much of computer related technology and 2) I am firmly planted in the modernist camp and therefore have a strong belief in truth to materials (to thy own self be true).


What kind of camera do you use?

My primary digital camera is a Pentax K3; I also use a Fujifilm XA-1. For film I use Mamiya C33 and Konica Six medium format cameras.