• Monday , 20 May 2019

What Qualifies as Deception in Landscape Photography?

Code Canyon

How often do you think about either being deceived by or deceiving the viewer when you think about landscape photography? It’s a topic worth talking about, as depending on how strongly you feel, it’s a potentially polarizing subject.

Photographer Adam Karnacz posted a pretty interesting video a couple days ago that asks a lot of pretty thought-provoking questions. The essential question (and subsequent opinion) that he asks is what qualifies as deception in the case of landscape photography? When is it considered, if ever, acceptable to deceive the viewer? Adam’s video asks more questions that it answers, which leaves the door open for thoughtful discussion.

The fundamental question is what counts as deception (as well as if that even a bad thing). When it comes to art, presentation, and post-processing, the world around us is often drastically altered from what is literally in front of us as we shoot images. So, when it comes time to share our work, if we choose to do so, is there any sort of obligation to inform the viewer as to what is altered versus what is real? These are tough questions, and quite frankly, I feel that this is a topic that can’t be black and white. Context is going to be paramount, as each case might have a different right answer.

After thinking about it for a while, the only area that I really feel strongly about an image’s honesty (or true lack of deception) would be photojournalism. In photojournalism, the job is to represent the truth of a scene to support a story with visuals, and thus deception, or altering images drastically would be wildly inappropriate. What do you folks think about this subject? Do you think that there is an element of deception when we present altered images? Does the degree to which we’ve altered a given image matter?


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