Artist, Photographer, Image Maker or Visual Storyteller? How do you categorize your creative endeavors these days? It's a fair question as the lines are getting blurred in the digital era. I know several well known Photographers who use the words Artist or Visual Storyteller in their Instagram profile.
Keep in mind, there's no right or wrong answer here... simply personal choice.
I'll readily admit, I'm a Photographer at heart when it comes to news related events (i.e. politics, sports, graduations, etc.). Some might call me a Purist to a certain degree. There are certain rules & ethics that apply to photojournalism that should never be violated. Namely, do NOT alter the final image. Sure, a little adjustment to the brightness or maybe some added contrast is acceptable... but that's it. The integrity of the image should always remain intact.
Old timers will remember the 1982 National Geographic faux pas. The magazine was seeking a graphically appealing image of the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt and moved one of the two pyramids for a better composition. Bad move. A firestorm of controversy ensued and the credibility of National Geographic came into question. They violated a coveted rule.
And so began the digital age of photography...
Outside of news events, any other time affords you the opportunity to get creative! If breaking the rules leads to better art, photography, image making or visual story telling, fly your freak flag and get busy! Go beyond your circle of comfort, break the rules and try new things! The more creative the better.
Personally, I don't think these creative excursions will ever become my primary focus. But, let it be known, the whole process is highly enjoyable... almost addicting. You can spend hours playing with new technology and the plethora of mobile apps on the market these days. Trust me when I say, you will never get bored.
You may also wish to mix & match cameras, software and mobile apps in pursuit of your art. There's no one size fits all. I often shoot the original picture on my Canon 7D Mark II or Sony Rx100 IV then wirelessly transfer the image to my iPhone for post processing. Sometimes I'll go from the iPhone to Lightroom on my PC and then back to the iPhone. I'm sure a lot of people will do one stop photography on their iPhone. But, your mobile phone shouldn't be considered the end-all-be-all. Shooting with my 8mm-15mm fish eye or 300mm/f2.8 lens cannot be duplicated on the iPhone. With all the built-in features and higher quality optics of new cameras, why limit yourself?
I've certainly wandered off the beaten path of photography in recent years. With so many creative opportunities at your fingertips, it's hard not to experiment. Sometimes I get a pile of rubbish and can't hit the delete button fast enough. Other times, I'm pleasantly surprised when a few diamonds emerge from the memory card.
Depending on your vision, there are many avenues to reach your artistic goals. As noted above, I use several tools & apps when post processing images. This list would include... Lightroom... and a host of iPhone apps... Snapseed, Camera+, Hipstamatic, Brushstroke, Waterlogue, Slow Shutter, Grungetastic, Glaze, TinType and Distressed FX.
Photographers can be a serious lot. Always on the prowl for the perfect image. It's time to relax and bring back your sense of wonder. Time to get out and play.