I had the opportunity for epiphany today. That is a rare enough occurrence in and of itself. A phone call with a speaker coordinator prompted me to take a walk down semantics lane toward a destination I didn’t expect.
The speaker: Do you teach Digital Photography?
Me: Yes, I do.
Inner Me: That was a dumb answer! You don’t teach Digital Photography, you teach Photography, period.
Then the speaker asked: Do you teach Photoshop?
Here, I was on my toes. “I teach Image Editing in a variety of software packages.” Then, I sought in vain to quickly name them. She didn’t want to hear me. I taught Photoshop and Digital Photography and that was enough for her. I really teach Photography and Image Editing .
The mechanics of technique and the subtle art of photography are not altered dramatically by the media in which I shoot. There are subtle nuances to be considered but composition, exposure, color choice, and all the other things that go into making a good photograph are pretty much independent of the camera’s method of capturing light.
The same is true of Image Editing software. The theory and practice of enhancing an image once it is converted (by camera or by scan) to digital is pretty much the same – no matter which software package you choose. They all, pretty much, crop, adjust contrast and color. Each package may get there a little differently but the general idea is the same.
When we reduce photography to ‘digital photography’ and the ‘other’ we box ourselves in. When people ask if I am professional photographer, I don’t correct them and say: “Yes, a professional digital photographer.” I simply say, “Yes.” I create images captured in essence from the world around me. I happen to do this digitally but they rarely ask how I do it – only that I do it and that I get paid for it.
The same thing happens with software. “Can I just photoshop out those telephone lines?” my student will ask.
I reply. “Yes, if you have Photoshop. If you don’t you can do it in Paint Shop Pro, Photo Paint, Elements, and any other program which might be lurking on your hard drive. Me, I would do it in Corel PhotoPaint – because I am a professional (I get paid) and time is money. But I can teach the student how in the varied editors I have installed on my computers. That is my job. I teach Image Editing.
Now blow your nose with a kleenex while I go make a xerox. (Note how they are all small letters when used as a verb or a noun and not a trademarked name of a corporation.)
I teach Photography and Image Editing. (Digitally-for the most part.)
Rikk Flohr © 2008