The Devil... and postproduction
"Where there is much light the shadows are deeper".
Yes, of course, it's the sign of the times. What's in style and what’s not. This fixation for purity is spreading, especially among digital natives and not only, perhaps due to a reaction to this pandemic and alienating binary code speech.
They quote and quote again great Authors: “The importance of a photo, that which makes a photo great, in the full sense of the meaning, is that it be honest, without cuts, without tricks, without any technical deception. G. Berengo Gardin”, almost as if one tried to bridge the gap between its merits and values. Now, regardless (a prescindere), like the great Totò would have said, these affirmations should be “read”, interpreting those who said them.
How and why. For example, Gardin is allowed to do it because he is an authority on the matter. Furthermore, in our parts there is a saying that goes “Napolean gave away what he could not have…”. And we are talking about a great Author, immense, with a culture and profession even greater than some of his photos. We are back to here to: culture, ideology. Inviolable ideology.
Of course this is a moment of transition. Where we disqualify Mr. Harry Fisch, winner of the 2012 competition organized by “National Geographic”, a magazine with a worldwide audience, for having digitally removed a significant paper bag from the scene and we criticize Paul Hansen’s photograph, winner of the World Press Photo 2012, for having “too carefully” made beautiful and tragic image of dead children in Gaza. As if a tragic photo should necessarily be ugly, dirty and ruthless.
This is what happens today. It happens quite often because there are still no clear ideas going around.
Of course the world is not perfect but it is well known that we are, more and more, falling in love with the flaws rather than with the virtues. But which one?
Like no one in the analogical era, (again and always BRRRRR…I shudder) would have shown or exposed his negatives, NO ONE today should presumptuously think to:
a)Fit the whole world in a 36x24mm (approx.) rectangle in an orderly fashion.
b)Propose images that despite they are made with, perhaps, super-professional devices (better yet!...) will not need to be corrected because…true. With W. Benjamin’s aura ***.
Shades, contrast, balance and last but not least the gray endogenous veil which is characteristic of the digital images (due to out of this world lenses and galactic sensors pumped endlessly that make us see even…what we are not actually seeing). Impossible things to entrust to a camera that sees more than our eye can see but DOES NOT see what we actually saw…with our brain, with our heart. All things to put in order to ensure that the final product (photograph of the original/real) that we have decided to immortalize.
And the cut, cropping as they say today, could be a determining factor for a clean communication and a coherent digital image. The world does not turn with the precision of a theater actor guided by a great director. Ansel Adams, a Father of Photography, once said that a photograph is no nothing but an false reality and should resemble, as much as possible, the emotion that was brought on by the subject that we wanted to photograph. But all of this, and above all, needs a meticulous care when it comes to the dark room (post-production) in order to get across our intentions.
So we cannot demonize the work done on an image in the name of a purity that does not belong to the instrument. Is an enthusiastic black and white photo a pure image of a world in color? Maybe…it’s an excuse to work less? Are we in a hurry? Perhaps inability? Let’s not underestimate the transition from firm to computer…for many it was very difficult. Traumatic. And the digital natives have not yet developed a humanistic version of the subject, completely generated by an alienating technology. So…Post-Production/Devil? But, if possible, as an Ally.
Without exaggerating, as Faust would do, and each one with respect to each other’s autonomy.
***Walter Benjamin (1892-1940)
The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction