Post capture ethics

As always there is an on going debate about changes to photographs that change or manipulate the original ‘in camera’ image in some way. Whether it is to remove an un-wanted branch or lamp post, improve features or body shape in a portrait or manipulate a very large portion of the entire image. Recent news and media coverage seems to have fuelled the debate once again and the words like unethical are being bandied around by many individuals and the media.

It leads me to ask at what point did we decide that photography can be nothing more than exact record of the original scene? How in any way is that art? Artists have changed and manipulated the subject before them and transferred there impression or version of this onto the canvas/paper/ceiling/wall since the medium first saw the light of day. Unless the image has to be an exact representation for medical examination or legal record (as reasonably possible) I see no reason for an image to remain un-edited.

Every image that comes out of a digital camera is manipulated – compressed, contrast adjusted, dust removed, shake reduced, colours changed, filters applied, cropped, sharpened…and the list goes on. Unless we only ever shoot in uncompressed RAW and never post process, it will always have been manipulated by some degree and even then the lens itself will have distorted the image in some way.. 

And no matter what degree of change, why would the original photographer/artist not have the right to manipulate as she/he sees fit for their desired vision?

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