“Real Photography” If You Use This Phrase, You May Be A Jerk

Bald Eagle by Scott Bourne


Okay – sorry, but I need to vent. I haven’t written much in this style lately, and I promise to move on to more positive things in my next post, but I am sick and tired of photographers using click bait by writing stories about what does and does not constitute “real photography.”

To be clear – NOBODY BUT YOU gets to decide what’s “real photography.” Anyone else who tries to tell you is a jerk – straight up.

In an attempt to gin up audience, several photography sites have lately taken to telling the rest of us what is and is not permissible in the world of photography. To them – to each and every one of them – I say – mind your own business. I’m going to decide what constitutes photography for me. Nobody else gets to do that.

Some of these conversations have been going on for centuries – in one form or another. Is this REAL art? Is this REAL photography? The debate will continue for centuries. As photographers/artists, it should not concern us or in any way impact what we do. If it’s a photograph to you – then by God it’s a photograph.

As for the people spreading this garbage…Just who do these self-appointed photography police think they are? I understand why they write click bait, but this is a low blow.

I generally consider this sort of behavior to be trolling. And I always ignore trolls. But in this case, I am making mention of the situation because I fear it will potentially do harm to those who are just starting out in photography and looking to establish themselves as artists. You new folks need to know that there are no rules in photography. Everything is fair game. Unless…

There are exceptions – primarily for photo journalists. The journalist with a camera has ethical obligations to stick to the truth as much as possible. Editing photos to turn them into something different than they were at the moment of capture is unacceptable for these photographers. Additionally, I personally don’t believe that anyone should use their camera to mislead people. Beyond that, and the exception for photojournalists, everything is fair game as far as I am concerned. Everything and anything.

For me – and I am just speaking for myself – if the image I share starts in a camera, then it’s a photograph. It is a PHOTOGRAPH. Plain and simple. A photograph. People are of course free to disagree with me – and I am of course free to ignore them.

If someone else is telling you what is and is not a photograph, my recommendation is to move on. Life is too short to let trolls ruin your art.

Okay – safety glasses off. We now return you to your normal programming. I apologize if I offended anyone by being so blunt. But it needed to be said.

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