No tricks please
"geist" - port of Agia Triada, Greece
Recently, I had to give a honest answer to someone's well put impression that my photos look fabricated, that is, they are designed and edited in such a way that the final result seems to be far from reality. Even more, there was the impression that in no way these photos can be real photographic captures.
I had to think over this more thorough before answering and found out that these impressions usually had to do with many people facing something new and unthinkable in terms of actual elements being present in a photo or even not being accustomed to look at what matters most in a photo. Deeper than this, many people are not accustomed to such a diversity of expression via photography.
Again, the basis is that I don't make photography according to the impressions of the viewers. I make photography starting from me and ending to me. Thus, there are many occasions when I actually "gamble" in my relationship with the viewer, pretty much under "love-hate" conditions. Sometimes I feel the need to just be narrative, to just repeat a scene albeit in a different visual form. At other instances, I feel the need to be expressive in a superlative way, to surpass the obvious and reveal the hidden, or to imply things instead of just documenting them. There are photos where I only apply a basic editing treatment and there are also photos on which the editing workflow goes too far but still they retain a genuine connection with the actual scene.
To me, above all, photography is all about light. It is a ritual of light formed and practiced in a very personal way. Selected elements, framing, composition etc, they all are parts of this ritual. It is a different kind of cult if you can see it that way.
Making photography based (and heavily relying) on adding elements (real or fake) after the shot is merely a form of digital art and not photography per se. It is the creation of a digital image thus I don't relate to this. It looks good, it feels good but there is no connection with the primal scene. This type of digital art deals with elements that surely lead you to somewhere but still they come from nowhere. I just can't call "photography" the outcome of a tree put on a shore or a boat added at the sea or even a mountain bird resting on a wave breaker.
The workflow of adding strong elements in an image and making them subjects is actually a plain technical approach to image making, so I tend to deprive my editing workflow from this artistic stance. In fact, almost all of my artworks are edited with subtraction in mind. I almost always tend to remove elements from the frames so that the end result reflects my impressions on the theme and focuses more directly to the subject itself. Adding elements in post can serve several purposes. They can setup a nice atmosphere, they can fully transform the insignificant, they can mix and match so many beautiful pieces together in unthinkable ways. However, the sense of memory, emotion and immersion which in sum represent the "birthplace" of a photo and the connection to the actual scene, can never be plausibly fabricated.
I put great care and lots of honesty in what I do in photography and given the fact that within each and every artwork there is always a small part of me inside, I can safely and honestly answer that there is absolutely no fabrication involved. There is no point to it...