Posted by: Liz Massey | July 29, 2008

Surf’s Up: Creativity Links for July 29, 2008

A healthy debate on Photoshop and photojournalism, another on the popularization of media-making, and a meditation on the joy of making mistakes are the gleanings from the frothy creative blog-o-sphere this week!

1. First, Jim Goldstein has a great post on his blog, attracting interesting comments, on whether photography in the age of Photoshop can be trusted. Although a lot of great photo-art has been made by altering images using Photoshop, this post concerns news photography, and in particular the new trend of using citizen-journalists to get “on the scene” cell phone photos of an event.

Jim writes,

“With the advent of iReport on CNN and other news outlets publishing reader submitted photography it makes me wonder…If photojournalists have a tough time sticking to the ethics of photojournalism, how is the general public expected to?

“Taking a quick look at the iReport Terms of Use, I see nothing of photo manipulation or photojournalist ethics guidelines. Granted most people are submitting photos/videos from their cell phones and time is of the essence. None-the-less there is a risk that such news outlets take with such content and the burden to catch manipulated photos is clearly on photo editors.”

Jim also wrote a fascinating post on this debate last year, Ethics of Photography: Career Suicide by Photoshop. Both posts, their comments, and their links are well worth checking out if you make images involving photographs for a living or an avocation.

2. Another recent creativity-related conversation, this one taking place between two blogs, concerns film editor and educator Norman Hollyn’s take on a post by Daisy Whitney on Television Week’s Trial and Error blog, “Just Because Everyone Can Do a Video Doesn’t Mean Everyone Should.”

Daisy’s contention is that a Web video glut is looming, and that more and more people are doing shows that have no central purpose or point. She writes,

“While I would never want to discourage the growth and experimentation in Web video, I have to wonder if videos make sense for everyone. Yes, I do believe in the power of video messaging. And I do believe in the democratization of Web video…

“But you need to have a reason to do it. If you’re a marketer, you need a specific branding purpose behind the video. If you’re a personality, you need a shtick. If you’re a CEO, you need a focus for your show.”

Norman agrees, but also points out,

“Having worked in lesser advantaged areas of this country and the world, I’m aware that most people don’t have access to people who can help them get a leg up on the thought process of media creation. For them, getting a cheap camera or cell phone and shooting material is the only way to learn…

“The real issue is not grabbing bandwidth, or people’s time. It’s about learning, however we can, which media is appropriate for each of our messages.”

The questions to you…

How do you feel about Web 2.0 content such as podcasts, video blogs, etc.? Are you using them to promote your art or creative output? Do you think businesses are jumping on the new-media-content bandwagon just because they can?

3. Finally, Tina at The Cycling Artist has a great post about learning and growing from one’s mistakes.

She writes about a pretty teacup she bought at an antiques market, and how she was very careful about how she used it–until she broke it in the sink washing it. After super-gluing it back together, it’s still pretty–and she reports “Now I’m not afraid to use it.”

She sees parallels between her pretty cup and her art-making.

“Playing it safe and just trying to keep everything nice and pretty and working doesn’t always, well, work. That’s when I get into a rut and feel like I’m working to a template, falling into a compositional routine. When I take a risk, maybe even screw up, the ‘ah ha!’ moment comes.

“The best paintings often come from taking a deep breath mid-way through, and mumbling to myself “do it do it do it, just do it!” while putting some odd colour, brushstroke or line in the composition. More often than not I stand back and say “yes!” If nothing else it breaks the monotony and gives me a new problem to solve, which still makes the painting far more exciting (both in process and result).”

Bravo. Have you cracked any cups yet today? Get, uh, cracking!



  1. I’m really enjoying your blog, thank you for all of your work. I agree with the comment about not always playing it safe in your art. Coming up with something unique and truly yours involves taking risks.

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