So I was scrolling through my facebook feed and came across a photo accompanying the announcement of the birth of a friends first child. Yipee. That's awesome I, thought. But then I took a double-take on the photo. The proud father's first photo with his new son looked strange...like it was a faded color photo taken in in the early 1970s....with the white border and everything.
ACK!!! Someone instagrammed their newborn's first photos to make them look like the photo was taken in 1973.
I thought to myself, wasn't the photo and the moment wonderful enough on its own merits? Did it REALLY need to be altered to look like it was old? Do these old effects somehow lend a credibility that comes with the aged look of a family photo album photo? What's next, are people going to start putting scratches and water stains in their contemporary photo scrapbooks?
It has always been my policy in image processing to make sure that the processing, virtual framing, tonality, contrast, sharpness, color...whatever never calls undue attention to itself in a way that overshadows the contents of the scene. Of course we are always interpreting the scene with our own style, but if that style overwhelms the visual contents, then I think we have failed as photographers. I know this approach isn't right for everyone, but for a family photo like this, isn't it a bit more important to capture the reality instead of a manufactured reality.
I am guilty of cloning a few pimples out of family photos. I have whitened teeth a little bit. I've brightened innumerable eyes. I've softened the facial texture of every woman I have ever seriously photographed. I have reddened their lips. I have exaggerated the stubble on a man's face. I have composited smiles from multiple images to make one big happy family. But none of these things were done in a way that anybody in the scene would have ever have been able to detect. With all these things, I refuse to ever use an instagram filter for a real modern life experience.