Photoshop is an interesting subject - interesting because it elicits such strong reactions.
Those who actually use Photoshop are highly enthusiastic. They commonly recognise it as one of the most powerful, most complex creative tools ever invented!
Yet other people, experience a lot of fear and loathing at the mention of the program. Some view it as a form of ‘cheating’ or as something that otherwise detracts from the proud tradition of real photography.
Real photography is often defined by such people as a process that starts and ends with the camera. While printing your photograph is acceptable, any manipulation of the original capture effectively invalidates it as a genuine photograph and renders it as art or design.
For some, photography and art are separate subjects.
So let’s test these ideas by starting with the camera end.
If you include the work of Thomas Wedgwood, modern photography had its beginnings over two centuries ago. Throughout this time it has been in a constant state of development, so whatever constitutes ‘photography’ has been in a perpetual state of change.
Digital photography is simply the latest chapter in this process.
Likewise, the idea of an aperture (hole) that focuses an image onto a flat surface has been known about since the 5th century BCE. Since the time of the Renaissance, there is good evidence the camera obscura has been used as an aid for various artists. Some of the most famous paintings in history were created from a projected image!
The history of art is in fact intertwined with the history of photography.
Photoshop is a creative tool. Like all creative tools, the tool itself does not create a work of art because a work of art is the product of the person who uses the tool.
Not everyone who picks up a paint brush can create a masterpiece and, likewise, not everyone who uses Photoshop can create a masterpiece either. This is because the substance of a visual image is the product of our human faculties.
Skill, talent, imagination, attention to detail, hard work and persistence – the list goes on!
I believe digital photography and editing are art forms of equal standing with any other, because all creative tools are merely a means to an end, not an end in themselves. All art is determined by the substance of its message – not the voice through which we speak that message.