Below is a post I created and have published in many places over the past 10 years. It is far more fact than opinion.

We can deny it, rationalize it is not true, but... DEMZ DA FACTS JAX!

Here we go... I suggest you brace yourself!

As a 64 year-old shooter, a working/licensed Professional Photographer since the age of 18 (1973), trained by Professional Photographers of America Master Craftsman Walter Coleman Thurston, National Georgraphic Photographer/Nikon School of Photography Instructors Michael Newler and Bill Campbell, Additive/Subtractive Lighting Master Leon Kennemer, PPA Master Craftsman Joe Zeltsman, Chromazone Legend Dean Collins, Playboy's Legendary Centerfold Photographer Arny Freytag (186 Centerfold Credits), Playboy Photographers David Mecey, Jarmo Pohjaniemi and others... all Masters in their craft (All image manipulating moth-eatin' buzzards!), I should be one of the last converts to accept the digital age, but...

I have seen lambashing after lambashing of photographers who ALTER their photos using Photoshop or other TOOLS, so one day I sat down and thought about it and I wrote the following.

First... As photographers why wouldn't we be free to EXPERIMENT, only PHOTOJOURNALISTS are expected to produce UNaltered photos, ARTISTS are almost required by definition to CREATE or BUILD without restriction or the confines of definition.

Yet... Photographers seem to RESENT alteration which always seems to me to be a backward thought process and UNTRUTH as I will point out below.

I am often asked how much of my finished photos are Photoshopped? As though using Photoshop makes the photos less than they could be if they were VIRGIN and unretouched or PURE PHOTOGRAPHY, a term I hope I never understand.

I've never given any and I mean ANY credibility to the argument some eat up with ESOTERICUSBULLSHITICUS (a word I created in 1979 after listening to an Audiophile spewing Techspeak which had no REAL relationship to the question I asked.) blindly suggest, that unless the photo is PURE and has undergone no manipulation, it does not maintain the technical merit of those that are unaltered.

To which I say... BULLHARKEY!

Every photo ever taken was manipulated, from the moment you chose the camera format, the lens focal length, vertical vs horizontal framing, the aperture, the shutter speed, the lighting, the location, the wardrobe, the make-up, a sunny day or an overcast day, the film brand/quality/resolution/characteristics, similar concerns in digital relative to card/media selection, the ISO you elected to use to get either a low grain/noise end-product or a high ISO rated film to exaggerate the grain/noise or just allow you to shoot handheld in low light conditions.


Then you get the REALLY NAIVE who want to say they want to shoot images IN THE CAMERA like ANSEL ADAMS, FRED ARCHER, Immogene Cunningham, Ernst Haas, all Masters, all members of the Group F64 Club, EVERY ONE OF THEM WERE THE GREATEST IMAGE MANIPULATORS OF THEIR TIME.

Someone told me, "But Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Ernst Haas, Fred Archer did not use Photoshop, their work was PURE PHOTOGRAPHY!" Don't make me use that word again, ESOTERICUS.

IN FACT, Ansel Adams' career in photography was suffering greatly, because he had become bored with his lack-luster images and in his own words, his discovery of the RED (R25) filter changed his life.

It gave his images STARK DRAMA, which set him apart from the other landscape and scenic photographers of the day.

So, it was a MANIPULATION of his image, a TOOL that allowed him to become... "THE ANSEL ADAMS".

NONSENSE! Every image you have ever seen of THE GREAT PURISTS was MANIPULATED!!!!

They INVENTED many aspects of image manipulation, one in particular... THE ZONE SYSTEM which is the analog version of HDR (High Dynamic Range) Photography.

NOTHING Ansel Adams printed was EVER as it came out of the camera. Using Ansel and Fred Archer's invention, The ZONE SYSTEM, they took control of the lighting, the contrast ratios, both during the in-camera capture and in the printing to the point they even FLASHED their prints during the development process to alter contrasts in tree bark textures.

To use an 8x10 view camera with a 4x5 reducing back, to use the bellows to correct perspective, correct lens element distortions, the coating you chose on your lenses to control chromatic aberation, flare and halation, the UV filter you use to reduce the ultra-violet light, the skylight filter you used to add a touch of warmth to the blue ultra-violate of daylight.


Gonna use a fixed lens pocket camera or a DSLR? It is a decision you will make prior to taking the photo that will greatly MANIPULATE the end result.

The focal length of your lens, do you want distortion of ultra wide angle lenses or the compression and Bokeh generated by a 300mm f2.8 telephoto. Do you like the foreshortening of the nose seen in medium telephotos or if you're really intent on exaggerating the rhinal proboscis, use a wide angle, up close and at a low angle.


Lighting your subjects... There are two kinds of light, SPECULAR and DIFFUSE, which light will you use to best serve the image you have in mind. Will you use gobos to shade subjects, decide on using flash or hot lights, gels or added modifiers and diffusion.

All of these things are IMAGE MANIPULATIONS, except they are Pre-Capture.

If you find it acceptable to use ANY of these image manipulation devices in Pre-Capture, it makes no logical sense whatsoever to LIMIT or cast shame upon the use of OTHER POST-production devices which manipulate the final image.

Be they choices of which developer to use, how hot or cold the developer, how long developed, the dillution rate of the developer, which enlarger lens to use when composing your print, which (PC) Poly Contrast or (CC) Color Correction filter to use, which brand of print paper, will it be RAG or Resin? Bright whites or eggshells, textured, matte or glossy, which contrast value of the paper, will you flash it, fog it are you going to use the ZONE SYSTEM?


Will you crop it to be a panoramic, a square, borders, no borders, will you mount it to canvas, have it lacquered, brush stroked finish, even where you will display the photo is in effect photo manipulation.


So after having done all of that photo manipulation to achieve the image you IMAGINED it would be, both in PRE-Capture and Post-Production all of a sudden using Photoshop to FURTHER MANIPULATE your final image is somehow scorned or frowned upon? It just makes no logical sense whatsoever.

Silly things like that give me hives. Photographers imagine by saying they created their masterful work of art in the camera, without any manipulation whatsoever somehow elevates them above the others, the less educated, the artistially challenged, less skilled, but everytime I hear this argument I can't help but shake my head and think, "IGNORANCE IS BLISS!"

Every single thing a photographer does when they decide to go take a photo including all of the itemized details I have listed in this novella, in some way, in some form, to some degree MANIPULATED THE FINAL OUTCOME OF THEIR IMAGE. PERIOD!

Any argument that using Photoshop to further manipulate that image somehow makes it less respectable or deserving of ire or scorn is ludicrous. Generally these are photographers who do not yet understand how to use Photoshop, so they feel taller when they argue against the use of this amazing and often vital tool of the many tools photographers use to create the image they imagined in their mind's eye.


Only the photographer and maybe, maybe, maybe other photographers care how you got the photo.

As a photographer who has been published 1,189 times in 80 mags and rags, I can tell you... NOTHING bores an Art Director, Marketing Director or Director of Advertising more than a photographer describing how hard or how much work, talent or this or that went into creating the photo... THEY JUST COULD NOT CARE LESS!

In the commercial world, a photo has no value unless it does one of these FIVE things, it must ENHANCE something, it must PROMOTE something, it must SELL something it must DOCUMENT something, it must EXPOSE/REVEAL something or it has virtually no value whatsoever.

Art has been defined to have no definition, so anything and everything is art. FANTABULOUS! Artists love that kind of double-speak. Remember that word I created decades ago... ESOTERICUSBULLSHITICUS!

If nothing matters and everything is art, then just set the self timer on your camera for three seconds and toss your camera as high in the air as you can and when you catch it... you will have a wonderful example of... ART! Photography is easy huh?

So why on earth, when so many DECISIONS and by default MANIPULATIONS of our images VIA those DECISIONS are made with every photo we take would we somehow find it SENSIBLE and LOGICAL to eliminate Photoshop and other TOOLS from the list of ways and means we use to create our finished product.

What matters in Photography is the END RESULT, as I have said a thousand times, those who matter, don't really care how you got there as long as you did.


Jon Dize aka DIZEMAN