on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

The Difference

Why Who You Are Matters In Photography

Guy Tal

Professional photographic artist, author and speaker working primarily in the Western US.


Some people who make art are driven by inspiration, others by provocation, still others by desperation. Artmaking grants access to worlds that may be dangerous, sacred, forbidden, seductive, or all of the above. It grants access to worlds you may otherwise never fully engage. It may in fact be the engagement—not the art—that you seek. The difference is that making art allows, indeed guarantees, that you declare yourself. ~Ted Orland and David Bayles

An article I read recently proclaimed to have resolved the ever-contentious topic of “manipulation” in photography. Rest assured, this is not another article about that topic, I just found it useful to illustrate a point. In truth, I only read the article because the author is a photographer I respect, and I hoped to find some new wisdom in his writing, which I did. Ironically, what I found likely is the opposite of what the author had intended. The article’s primary argument is this: people who see a photograph and later visit the place where the photograph was made, expecting to see this place as it appears in the photograph, and instead finding it different, may feel “cheated,” and therefore “manipulation” of photographs is unethical. It is in recognising that both the premise and, consequently, the conclusion of that argument are patently wrong, that I found some useful wisdom. 

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