Selling the Fake / Right of Wrong ?


Example of substituting one background for another

Example of substituting one background for another


Selling the fake is a term coined by a fantastic photographer named Joel Grimes.  Google that name and see some of his work.  He is a commercial photographer working in the advertising field and is known for his multi layered sports photos. He very often will separate the subject from its background and then place it on another background to complete the image.  Selling the fake is what he calls making the photo look real to the viewer.

This technique brings up the age old discussion of ethics.  Already critics say it is impossible to believe a published photograph is real and that you can no longer be sure that what you are looking at has not be altered in some way.  Photoshop has been blamed for much of this manipulation but there are new techniques and other software and hardware available  which make altering a photo quite simple and available to even the most novice of photographers.

Well, this is what this Moorestown New Jersey Portrait Photographer thinks about all this.  Photos have been manipulated from the beginning of wet plates.  The very act of taking a photo is subjective.  Darkroom techniques were used to crop, and chemically alter images forever.  Digital photography makes all those alterations and many more a very easy reality. It is my feeling that the photographic image must remain true to the subject being photographed.  The end product photo has to depict an honest interpretation of what was seen at the time of exposure.  This is quite subjective and the responsibility remains with the photographer.  When the photographer makes the image he or she must have a pre visualized  concept in mind that will truly represent what is being photographed.  A news photo must tell an accurate story of the event.  Does it matter that the sky was darkened or dodging make the eye more easily see the essence of the photo.  Probably not.  In advertising is it wrong to enhance a product to bring out its best characteristic.  Probably not.  In portraiture is it wrong to now be able to place a subject on a different background.  I think it is probably ok.

What do you think?







2 thoughts on “Selling the Fake / Right of Wrong ?

  1. I kind of grew up in the “integrity” school with Krystle. Which she probably inherited from you. IMHO the world of photojournalism has no room for debating what the image/scene was at the time.

    Unfortunately with food photography I think there is a real license to cheat after where the fast food folks went with it. I would say on a scale of 1 to 10, I don’t like to go past 1.5. I will clone/heal away elements that distract from the food: stray grains of rice that upset I will clone/heal away, I have cloned out a straw on off of a drink.

    With wedding photography, I will go up to 3 or 5. I think the most awful sin I have committed is removing the head from this photo (link below). I don’t really burst-fire shoot (equipment lacking and I hate editing.) With all of my photo-work I don’t leave lightroom, I like to call it integrity, but its probably laziness.

    With portrait photography, (and we have had some portraits done) I have had my skin fixed and smoothed and I like to think that on a perfect clearskin day that is an accurate representation. But its not something I would do on pictures that I take, your face is your face, removing a pimple here or there seems OK, but converting my gnarled face to a angelic visage seemed a stretch.

    *my sin

    • Your thinking is pretty much on the money. I do see an enormous amount of badly over retouched portraits. Again getting back to telling the truth in photography. In advertising or food the product must represent what the viewer expects.

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