I'm writing today to discuss the divisive mentality among photographers. Each camp is so quick to find fault in the other. Personally, I think there is room for all of it. Yes, it's a saturated market, but when you find you have to attack others in order to defend your profession, well then, you really aren't a professional after all, are you? Let's face it. Clients who want digital art aren't going to go to a traditionalist and clients who want photojournalist style images aren't going to go to a digital artist. So, why are you attacking each other?
The truth of the matter is that a photo or art succeeds if your client is happy. They really don't care how you got there, just that you did, that they love it, and that they will return again because of your service and style.
If you go through my portfolio, you can see that I cross the line between both camps. I started out as a straight up photographer back in the film days. However, I am also an artist working in all kinds of media. When I decided to blend both worlds, my creativity blossomed to a level I never thought possible. Sure, I start with a photograph and I can assure the traditionalists that I got it right in camera. Because without a perfect exposure, lighting, and composition, you don't have a foundation to build your art.
From that point, if I had planned on the image to be a straight headshot for say a family portrait, I will lightly retouch. I do not want to make someone they are not. I just want to make them the best of who they are.
On the other hand, when I am creating a concept for a fantasy piece as a personal project, I plan the costume, makeup, hair, create props and headpieces, cast the model who fits the look, plan the lighting, plan the backdrop or location, and then schedule the session. After shooting the look, I review the images, pick the images I decide are the best representation of my vision, then edit them to look like digital art with artistic strokes and textures that I had preplanned or created.
I am not reducing the work of the team. I describe my idea and if I use a makeup artist, they make that idea come to life with their craft. If I need a costume or headpiece that I cannot make, I contact another artist, describe what I'm looking to create, and they either make it or find something that fits the look. The model evokes the mood or pose that I request. It is a team effort, but in the end, it comes down to what I envisioned, planned, and made come to life with the team I assembled.
Then, I put the finishing touches in post for the final image, mostly with my own manual edits. Purchased actions and filters can be a timesaver, but you run the risk of having your image look like someone else's style. Therefore, it takes me a very long time from start to finish to create digital art. You can be assured that each piece is carefully selected and hand crafted by me.
So, after all the long winded discussion about the process, traditionalist cannot demean the work that goes into creating digital art. And digital artist should appreciate the work of traditionalists. Respect each other. This is a field that is losing its clout because every phone has a camera. If we continue to bicker among each other, we will cannibalize the profession.
The best thing you can do is pay attention to your own work and compare yourself to the work you've done in the past. Quit worrying about the other person! We all form our own opinions and that's fine. But quit complaining about other people, take what you like or dislike, and then apply it to yourself and your own work. Complaining about the way someone else arrived at an effect is only hurting yourself.