I have been a photographer for over 35 years. In that time I have photographed everything from Countess Albertini in a bathtub full of beer to Eskimos on the Arctic Slope. But no matter what I photographed I would strive for the full frame un-manipulated image. I would live for the rush I got when everything came together in the viewfinder and I heard the click of the shutter. If I had to crop, burn, dodge or make any alterations to the photograph I was never really happy with it.
Photography was an art form that had certain credibility to it, after all it used to be admissible as evidence in a court of law. It was important to me to keep the integrity of my subjects in the photographs. Timing and working with the realities of a physical world is what makes photography unique as an art.
The computer changed that. Photographs that I have made when all the elements fell in place to make a perfect moment have lost their integrity and half of their charm. They can now be suspect to digital manipulation. This was no small loss to me. But as I started to learn digital technology I saw it as the next step in the photographic medium. I was no longer shackled to reality. I could wander my imagination (which I always rather enjoyed doing) and apply it to my photography.
Now I embrace the technology. It takes me a lot longer to create an image, as photography is only the first step (I use film and scan the negatives), and there is often more emotional turmoil involved. Take for example, The Seven Days of Creation, which involved shooting hundreds of rolls of film, 25,000 miles of travel, over 2,000 hours on the computer and a year to complete. The wrestling with concepts, going through the hundreds of rolls of film to find parts of photographs, manipulating and merging elements from as many as 68 different photographs to create one image, this was all new to me. And then there was the part of tearing the image up and starting over because it didn't meet my expectations.
The old way was easier. I had the picture or I didn't, there was no after-the fact-manipulation. Be that as it may, I can not go back to straight photography. Digital imaging is a new art form. Its traditions are being made today and I like that. But more than that, it offers the freedom to explore my unreality and apply it to my work. It enables the joy I experience when inspiration hits
In creating digital images I still get that kick when the shutter trips on the "decisive moment" because the quality of my finished image is dependent upon using the best of my own photography. The difference is, that is no longer enough.