Is It Cheating to Give in Photoshopped Work at a Photography Contest?

It’s a modern pet peeve that the artistically inclined love to worry about. If you are a musician, you can’t stand the fact that youngsters today sit before their Macs to play around with GarageBand and they name themselves music artists. Why, if you are that way inclined, you can likely have a hard time recognizing that a young guy having wild hair and a screaming electric guitar close to a stack of Marshall amps is a musician also. Take photography; if you have a taste for cameras as well as photography, then the journal Popular Photography is most likely in your regular monthly subscription list and you often await their Reader’s Photo Contest every year.

Actually, it isn’t just the photography lover who is often excited about that contest. Regular people out there having a camera and a computer are often capable to produce spectacular and outrageous masterpieces that you’d not really believe came out of the thoughts of a lone typical person without any devices, education or finances. I recall an entry in that photography competition about fifteen years ago that simply blew absolutely everyone away. It absolutely was a large unsupported phantom faucet strangely floating in the air against an attractive blue sky, that was pouring torrents of crystal water. Individuals could not stop wondering at the marvels of digital picture tricks.

That was before Photoshop became famous. Now, it looks like almost all the pictures in that photography competition, like any other, have had a little of Photoshopping carried out (if not a whole lot), and most people are up in arms at how the ancient and august art form that photography is, is being subverted, by any punk with a computer. To view a great touched-up woman in a wedding dress walking up the aisle, the folds of her gown just picture-perfect, her smile maybe a little too glowing, the lighting catching behind her veil to form a kind of halo and little blossoms tumbling down her train in just a precious way – all of this is wonderful to see on a photograph just because setting things up like this, and having the ability to time your picture completely, with all the right lighting, all in a moment, demands artistry and training of the very extreme nature. But if you can just take your average image, transfer the lighting on Maya, redraw the smile to become much more angelic as well as glowing on Photoshop, change the angle of the shot and the whole backdrop and put in extra shine on another program, it doesn’t truly say very much for your skill with a camera.

The only real reason a picture like this is remarkable enough that it would certainly win a photography competition is that people imagine that it demands photographic skill. The picture itself is absolutely nothing that great. The talent to capture it all in one frame, is the thing that wins the appreciation. So is it fair to cry foul here? Not too fast, the Photoshoppers say. If you run your very own photography contest just how would you put this down in the regulations, what is to be regarded as photography, and what is not? For instance, before any individual ever acquired a computer, any picture shot would require that you used a number of lights and reflectors to get your photo to sparkle and be noticed. And your darkroom techniques will make that even better. You choose a camera that could focus on the foreground and blur out the background in a way that actually never happens in reality. Or you invested hours getting your subjects, “your actors” set up so. That was the low-tech way, and today we have a high-tech way. What causes it to be unjust now?

It is not just a photography contest that you would have issues defining specific guidelines in. Identifying where a line is, is actually challenging. Perhaps the best way to go about it would be to just move all the high-tech stuff to its personal contest.