Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A view on composite images

Happy New Year, fellow "Critical Light"ers. Hope 2009 is great for you all.

I came across this interesting article on Tim Grey's blog, that Damian put me on to last year. It deals with the issue of composite vs straight images. I found myself agreeing with the sentiments expressed, and can see that I apply a similar philosophy, albeit in a much more straight photographic way, when I sometimes "meddle" with images.


[Extract from the article]

A big part of the discussion among those spending time in front of this image in the PCNW Gallery involved speculation about whether it was a "straight" photograph, or if it was a composite of multiple images. What I found so cool about the photo is that it is completely possible that it could be a single image. There was nothing about it that couldn’t have really been as it appeared for a single instant. And yet I figured it had to be a composite. I actually felt guilty for making this assumption, so I was relieved when I contacted the photographer and confirmed it was indeed a composite.

I asked Julie about her perspective on creating such an image photographically, in the context of some people feeling that creating such a composite was "cheating" (a notion I don’t agree with, by the way). Here’s how Julie described her work:

"When I describe my work I sometimes talk about my husband who writes fiction, and how he works. He’s always borrowing from real life, and then changing certain details or the context of them for the sake of the story. But in a way, his work tells the truth about life in way that writing it exactly as it happened wouldn’t be able to. So, I guess that’s they way I’m trying to work visually."

I think this is such an apt description for her work and her approach to photography. I’d be the first to admit that there are situations (such as photojournalism) where creating an invented scene isn’t appropriate. But in most cases I really feel that photography is art, and thus deserves to have he same freedoms of creativity found in any other art form. In other words, creating such a composition is an incredible expression, and one that should be applauded.

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