Honesty in photography: What counts as deception, lying and cheating in landscape photography?


posted Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at 6:30 AM EDT


In a recent video, photographer Adam Karnacz discussed finding meaning in landscape photography. In the linked video, Karnacz discussed meaning in landscape photography within the context of treating photography an art form. When something is an art form, there are certain creative liberties which are often taken. To this end, what counts as truthful or honest within work? Can landscape photography in particular be deceptive? This is the topic of conversation in Karnacz's latest video. "Through our work, we are communicating an idea, a story, a perspective of life that can only come from you," Karnacz says in his new video. He wants people to enjoy his photography when he shares it and he wants the viewer to hear the story he is trying to tell.

Honesty and trust has been of utmost importance for Karnacz. His channel has been transparent and he has been consistently sharing his work. While there is always a temptation to take shortcuts in order to gain viewers or garner more attention, Karnacz has worked hard to stay true to his principles. With that said, within the context of photography and landscape photography in particular, what type of standard of honesty should be applied to the work itself? Is landscape photography a form of documentary photography? Karnacz believe that it is not. When he does landscape photography, he is trying to create a combination of what he saw and how he felt at the time. For example, when he takes in a scene which makes him feel vibrant and bright, he might increase saturation during post processing.

For Karnacz, it ultimately comes down to intent when considering how to approach the creation of any particular image. He doesn't want to be deceived when he views the work of another photographer, nor does he want to deceive a viewer with his own work. While he may not take a hard line on the topic of deception, he does want to raise questions. Can you even "cheat" in landscape photography? If so, what does this entail? Where is the line between telling a story through a landscape photograph and telling a lie?

Readers, after watching Adam's video above, what do you think about this topic? Do you believe that a landscape photographer is a documentary photographer or are they a storyteller? Is there room to be both? How important is honest depiction in photography in general, but also with respect to landscape and nature photography in particular? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

(Via First Man Photography