Manipulating for Meaning

Of all the passages, the one on digital imaging stood out the most to me as a photographer. Despite using primarily digital cameras, I have always limited manipulations to my subjects to only changing lighting and colors. However, upon reading about how other photographers would manipulate landscapes or “morph” images of faces together, I realized I had been going about photography all wrong. Compared to the digital images the passage explained, my work was raw and lackluster. I felt like I had wasted my time and produced nothing of value. More often than not, I focused on creating perfect scenes through props and costume.


I could not help but feel cheated while reading about how many artists created interesting pieces mostly by editing photos however they saw fit. For example, the work of Alexander Apostol was not necessarily beautiful to look at, but his work gave off an undeniable feeling of uneasiness that made his images of blank buildings hard to forget. Though, they were not particularly kind on the eyes, each picture felt like it had a reason for existing. It was then that I realized that an image’s beauty was almost directly connected to what feelings or ideas were being conveyed, rather than solely relying on a piece’s aesthetics.
However, finding the meaning in digitally altered images was hard to do. Craig Kalpakjian’s work, in particular, had a deathgrip on my attention. Each image felt hyperrealistic and devoid of human life. Subconsciously, illusions of people would flicker into an image if I stared too long. Without people to give the pictures a pop of life, each hallway and room was left with a haunting aura. One picture I found particularly creepy was that of an empty room reflected of a security camera’s protective dome. Even though I could not place a definitive meaning on Kalpakjian’s collection, the dystopian atmosphere felt like a meaning in its own accord.

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