Photographing the Work of Others

It seems there is a long-standing debate around photographing other people’s work.  It’s a simple debate:  what exactly is the photographer creating if the photograph includes an object or structure that has been created by someone else?

This debate arises mostly in relation to works that exist in public spaces.  The originating works may already be labelled “works of art” or may be labelled “architecture”, “edifice”, “structures”, “building”, “hardscape”, “figure”, “carving”, “casting” or any of many names that don’t necessarily assign an aesthetic value.

And yet all of it was imagined by someone, designed by someone, built by someone and placed on display.  Even if the work has another function, such as a building, there was a creative effort expended to provide that space.  If a photographer takes an image of it, presents it as their own creation and maybe makes a profit from it, is that right?  Disclaimer:  this is not a legal review. Continue reading

Black and White or Colour?

The options for manipulating an image after capture are endless today.  Creative edits can include composites, the addition of graphic elements, and the use of finishing treatments such as texture overlays, painterly conversions, grunge and high dynamic range (HDR) effects.  These are just a few possibilities.


But as recently as 1935, the only manipulation available to a photographer was around how much highlight and shadow to reveal in the print and where (a.k.a. dodging and burning).  All film was black and white.  The most creative photographers played with different development processes and printing surfaces, but these were all still monochrome results.  Others tried coloured filters at image capture, or layered emulsions that could produce different colours, but this made the capture and processing much more complex and the results were often poor.

KodachromeIn 1935, Eastman Kodak Company introduced Kodachrome and changed the world forever.  Despite this, colour photography did not become widespread, at least not in the consumer market, until the 1960’s.  So colour image capture has really been in broad use for just 50 years.

Today, all digital cameras capture colour data by default.  Black and white conversion is available both in-camera and through post-processing.  The irony is that the same debates about colour vs. black and white that drove the creation of Kodachrome still exist today.  Here’s my take on the creative debate. Continue reading

Light Painting with Patrick Rochon

I had the pleasure yesterday of attending a presentation by Patrick Rochon, also known as Patrick the Light Painter.  There are many ways to express one’s creativity in photography and Patrick has chosen light as the medium for his expression.  You might wonder what’s unique about that, since every photographer uses light.  It’s how he uses it that sets him apart. Continue reading