Nearly every photo I post has been edited in some way. I’m fine with that. I’m not documenting something for a news article or scientific report. The idea of a picture having “no filter” or “no edits” applied is a bit of a myth, in my opinion.
Even without having touched the image your digital camera presents you, somebody, somewhere, made a decision on the correct elements going into the picture you see. Back in film days, you at least chose the type of film; many photographers picked the type of film they used BECAUSE it saturated the colors or had other characteristics they wanted. Still further, many developed the film themselves not trusting the image to a random developer in a darkroom.
In modern digital cameras, engineers and programmers put some pretty fancy work into getting the picture you see, and it often does surprising well. But they weren’t with me as I raised the camera to my eye… their software did a best guess given the situation. There is a lot of information locked away in many pictures just waiting to be let out, especially if shooting in your camera’s RAW mode.
For me I want the image to reflect what I see (or even “felt”) at the time… and the camera often doesn’t do justice to what I see in my head. For me, photography isn’t always just about documenting that I was ‘there’ or saw ‘that.’ It can tell a story, or show something in a way you don’t NORMALLY see it… whether that be beautiful, ugly or somewhere between.
Take a photo like the Coreopsis above – even though it clearly has some heavy filter effects on it, this was done with some thought. It took quite awhile to get the look I wanted… I knew I wanted it square, but the amount of grittiness, the saturation, blur and how visible the ‘cracks’ appear were all considered.
Different effects (both in camera – and in post) can change the feel of an image. I may skew a picture to make it more dynamic; or enhance the brightness, warmth or vibrance to seem joyful. I have a few where the intent is to show speed, energy, or a sense of dizziness.
And… sometimes a picture is just a picture. Sometimes an element in a picture represents something personal. Including these aspects from time to time helps me keep trying new – and hopefully interesting – things. I am loath to consider myself an ‘artist’ (I feel that title is reserved for someone with more talent than myself.) I primarily take pictures for my own enjoyment; sharing them is relatively new to me – and still not something I’m entirely comfortable with. So if somebody likes one simply because it looks nice… I’m ok with that – and the ones that people don’t like, well – perhaps they have a much deeper meaning for me.