What the camera sees and what we see

It wasn’t that long ago that I found myself embroiled in a small back-and-forth with someone whom I know fairly well about the use of Photoshop by photographers.  I somehow doubt that I am the only photographer who has found him/herself in the odd position of having to explain themselves to a mostly misinformed person about the techniques we use to enhance photographs and the reasons we use them.

The woman above is my wife.  And if you were to drill a hole into my head, explore the synapses and the cells that hold the emotions that I feel for her, you would find that in my heart, my wife looks just like that.  My brain is hardwired by the love I feel for her to see nothing but a beautiful, kind, and glowing example of what God wishes each of us to be.  That love functions as a filter that probably does cloud my seeing a bit, but it is a filter that each of us shares when looking at our kids, our boyfriends, our girlfriends, our own husbands and wives.  To each of us, our kids are the smartest, the most handsome, the strongest.  The same is true of each person we truly love.  Unfortunately, the camera does not have such filters.  So, often, a picture is taken, and we find that that picture is somehow hollow or deceiving because it has not captured the person we love the way we see them.  Unfortunately, the camera is honest.  Yet, it is a very limited device that cannot tell the whole story.  That is where photographers have always stepped in to put back that filter that exists in our hearts and minds.  A photographer does not simply take a picture.  A photographer creates an image that should resemble pretty closely the people we know and see not just with our eyes, but in the darkest and brightest places of our hearts and souls.

3 thoughts on “What the camera sees and what we see

  1. dennstedt

    Absolutely correct Anth. I posted a lengthy dissertation on my blog awhile back talking about the same thing. It even goes beyond filters—the camera is a mechanical device, not a biological eye—and there are real differences between what they see. And your are right, photographers are (or should be) interpreters and artists and not just making Xerox copies of what they think they see. Love the post.

  2. Kathy

    Photoshop is a great tool, but I’ve seen some people go WAY overboard, and thats when it gets silly. To the point that their eyes aren’t even a realistic color, but zombie like.

    1. anthony

      What you are describing are people learning to make images. When I first started sketching, I could not get proportions right, and all my drawings looked sickeningly bad. But as I gained control of proportions, things got better. Same with music…creating songs was a mixed bag of bad and worse, but as I wrote and wrote and wrote, my songs improved. Unfortunately, there are a lot of beginning hobbyists who don’t understand that it takes years to be a real photographer, and they put really bad stuff out there without shame, so that gives the art of photography a bad name.


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