What is Idealism in Photojournalism?

Man working in the salt factory at Chittagong, Bangladesh, the man is holding a basket standing in front of a wardrobe full of salt and machines to his left
Photographer: Michael Hall in Chittagong, Bangladesh

Many photographers and journalists have become cautious of what they should and shouldn't be photographing and have developed an awareness of the manipulation. Idealism in sociology is defined as a human idea. Emphasised by beliefs and values, shaped by society. It has become easier to destruct the activity of thought without the audience knowing. Judging by the emotional factor used but also by the control of editing and real-life positioning.

Although manipulating photographs isn't a new trend, photographers using film in the 1850s combined multiple images, due to this conversion, the genre of spirit photography was founded. William H. Mumler was accused of fraud for his photographs; Mary Todd Lincoln, 1872. The photograph claimed to show Mary and the ghost of Abraham Lincoln standing behind her, his hand resting kindly on her shoulder. After this photograph become locally famous, Mumler made a career out of his manipulations by consulting grieving widows and widowers.

Elsie Wright and Frances Griffith caused an unexplained phenomenon after The Cottingley Fairy photographs were presented at a Theosophical society in 1917. After World War One spiritualism and mysticism gained an increased influence across Britain. The fairy photographs resonated with many people who were eager to believe.

Cosmopolitan, Glamour, GQ and Elle have helped intensify the false implication of female and male desirable figures by airbrushing imagines on Photoshop since 1990. Young females have developed eating disorders and anxiety has increased in young males.

The problem with manipulation is that the viewer is unaware of the story behind this picture, the mistake is that this photo is objectively good, he has communicated emotionally and recorded a story but the photograph seems to have been forgotten.

Semiotics is a sign and symbol theory, the theory aims to find an appropriate conclusion from our own understandings of social, political, historical and cultural experiences. Psychoanalysis is a methodology around the information we already know. It is to expand our education and acknowledge to help us recognise and apprehend what we are looking at.

Photography should not be viewed solely as a method of graphical documentation. Surely, the artistic creator has undertaken a more difficult task than the copyist? It's simple enough to make photographic replicas of reality; it's more difficult to create something that really resonates with your sense of self. Yet, for example, Goethe defined art as "the replication of the world that surrounds me by means of the world that is within me." According to the photography idealist, what is cheating or falsifying becomes the essential core of art for Goethe. On this one, I'm inclined to agree with Goethe.

By restricting the ways in which photography can be utilised, I believe we risk devaluing the medium. When creative tools are restricted, the danger appears to be even greater. Personally, I consider the snapshot straight out of the camera to be a sketch, and then I work on it until I get a result that 'looks right' to me. It is, without a doubt, a skewed interpretation of reality. But then then, so was the initial 'sketch' from the camera. The difference is that the post-processed shot has been more blended with my aesthetic sensibilities, resulting in a potentially more beautiful result.

Couldn't I have made it 'look correct' from the start if I had been a better photographer? No. This is due to the fact that, in comparison to the human eye, cameras have a very restricted dynamic range; they simply cannot catch the amount of light and detail we see every day. Post-processing is technologically required to address this issue. It's also because I have a degree in art history, so I think of images in the same way I think of paintings. That is, I want control over composition, light, colour, and other aspects of the image, but not necessarily the realism of a photojournalist.

The issue of Idealism and Realism is inextricably linked to that of expression. Those who have only a rudimentary understanding of the potential of our art argue that the photographer is merely a mechanical realist with no ability to contribute anything personal to his work. Nonetheless, some of our detractors are inconsistent in their assertion that certain of our images are nothing like nature. This is giving themselves away, because we may idealise if we can add falsity. However, we believe that truth can be added to simple facts.

A passion for realism is the current affectation in art and literature, and it is causing some of our novels to become so filthy – in the name of art – that it is difficult to even mention their titles. It is fashionable to crave for Nature and to choose her as bare, bald, and ugly as she was created, the particular kind being that which is the result of civilisation's faults. However, a closer examination reveals that no successful art, no matter how hard it tries, can completely avoid idealism.

Being real and true is the first great characteristic; but, imagining and superimposing the highest conceivable ideal is also required if we are to achieve that perfection which, while unknown in this world, may still be found attainable in a future one.