Photoshop Was Never the Lie

Or the criminalization of digital post-production.

Digital photography supressed the cost of film and developing, and opened a the door to editing software. Nowadays, Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture and a huge etcetera allows profesional or amateur photographers to polish their photos in minutes.

But, for some reason, there has been always some kind of rejection towards digital post production, as if this practice take value away from the picture. “It hasn’t barely been edited”, “I just adjusted a little bit of exposure”, “Those were the real colors of the photograph” are just some of the examples that you can find of this obsession, this complex about post-processing a photo (and most of times, that kind of comments are hard to believe).

Post-production has always existed, even before digital photography. There are lots of ways of manipulate an analogue photograph, and USSR propaganda is an incredible example. But even before photography, artists manipulate their paintings and their portraits.

“I don’t edit my pictures, they are completely real”. That is simply a contradiction. Do you know why? Because post-production was never the lie. Photography is the lie.

When you decide the frame of your next shot, you’re deciding what to show and what to hide; you’re lying. When you use a dramatic light, you’re lying. When you choose what is going to be your positive space, you’re lying. And no, of course you’re not the one lying. Maybe that spontaneous shot you saw in a magazine was the tenth attempt. Maybe that decadent urban landscape is a perfectly framed shot and what you’re really seeing is a part of a beautiful residential neighbourhood. And does it even matter? Not at all.

Because art involves lying. Of course, if you’re a journalist, you are supposed to tell the truth. But if you are looking for beauty, you are going to lie to me. And I won’t care, because I’m not looking for truth in art. Every single expression of art involves lying in some way: painting, sculpture, architecture, cinema… And post-production is just a step in the process of lying.