Friday, January 1, 2010

The Myth of the "Uncompromising Photographer"

Ad copy and book flaps are full of references to (often excellent) photographers who are "uncompromising" in their pursuit of their images.

Bio-writers get something of a pass on this because they're often not concerned with specific technical details, but to advertising copy writers, I call a bullshit on you.

Many (maybe most) decisions on equipment purchases and use are based on compromises.  People who work exclusively in a studio environment have a better chance of avoiding this, but I'm guessing that there isn't a single working pro who hasn't made image-creation decisions without acknowledging that they're sacrificing one "ideal quality" in pursuit of another.

A truly uncompromising photographer would have to design and create each part of his or her image-making process, from the body of the device to its image receptor (film or sensor) and its lens and THEN design the post-image process the best suited the specific exposure, be it software, chemistry, substrate, emulsion... even display environment.

That simply doesn't happen.

Photographers, professional and amateur alike, make compromises at nearly every step of the image making process.  There will be the odd "golden moment" when equipment and scene mesh absolutely perfectly, but those are exceedingly rare.  The rest of the time, we can only strive to keep our variances from the ideal to a minimum.

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