It’s true, as photographers our past is full of image manipulation. And where there’s a history of manipulation, somebody is bound to develop trust issues…
But does all this manipulation mean that we have destroyed the art of photography?
No, but there have definitely been some casualties. In photography’s early history, viewers believed photographs to communicate truth. However, this boundless trust in the photograph was naive, and since the dawn of the digital age, viewers have become extra suspicious of the photograph and its ability to deceive. Just as Savedoff predicted, “when we encounter what looks to be a photograph, we may be increasingly likely to view it as a construction”. This skeptical attitude cost photography the power that accompanied viewers’ boundless faith in the honesty of the photograph.
Now, Ritchin makes an interesting observation about how the term digital photography “may in fact be a misnomer, referring to an older medium while only hinting at the very different one still to come”. I agree that there is much about digital photography that does not belong to its silver, film, and chemical based predecessor and that there is still much to be discovered and developed in this medium. The thing for photographers and artsits to do is to continue to push these boundaries while enabling the older medium to survive as well so long as it is best suited to the artist’s purpose.
Perhaps over time photographs may regain some of our trust as digital media and photography continues to come into its own and separates itself from the old school.