the photoshooter's journey from taking to making



SOME IMAGES ARE THE FINAL DESTINATION for a concept, while others are only the launch pad for one. For most of its first century, photography was, at least for non-professionals, a sort of “straight out of the camera” proposition. You calculated, aimed and clicked, and what you got was, for all intents and purposes, your final product. Sweetening and manipulation was for the elite.

Now, tech has conferred the gift of boundless tweakery on everyone, meaning that a photo is not “done” unless we are completely through fiddling with it. Artistically speaking, this removes all barriers to, or alibis for, unsatisfactory results. It’s both empowering and intimidating, as it means that photogs, and not cruel fate, are ultimately responsible for the final version of a picture.

Witness the steps in the gestation of a photo that many of us already see as a somewhat average process:

The image seen here began life as a phone snap of the ceiling understructure inside a mall that had been stripped to the bones ahead of a restoration. After the initial snap, I cropped out the lower retail storefronts, leaving me with a mere patterns of girders and supports. I then coverted it to mono, ran it through an app that created a mirror image of one half of the pattern, and finally used a “mini-planet” platform that transformed it into a spiral. And I still may not be finished.

The sheer giddy joy of having this amount of freedom is far more important than what I myself choose to do with it. The main takeaway is that, for all photographers everywhere, the training wheels are truly off the bike. It’s an amazing time.


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