I take pictures and shoot video for other people most of the time. I’m obligated to shoot and edit in a way that’s pleasing to the client. Often, what pleases the client is not what I would choose nor recommend, but you’ve heard the expression “the customer is always right” and that certainly applies here.
For this reason, I enjoy taking pictures for myself. The pleasure is in creating something with no other purpose other than to make it like I like it. It’s something I do for myself. I enjoy sharing my work with others, and that naturally produces opinions, compliments, and criticism.
Two comments I get are:
1) That doesn’t look real, you’ve altered it too much.
2) Journalists should not alter photos.
I’d like to address these comments… the latter one first:
I believe news should be accurate and true. Altered photos bend the truth and present the story inaccurately. Photos used in news stories should not be altered, with the exception of obvious applications like zooming in and highlighting someone in a surveillance photo for better identification.
Photos presented as art are not under any journalistic ethical standard, nor should they be. The viewer should make some attempt to consider the context in which the photo is presented. Regarding photography presented as art, I adhere to the words of the late famous photographer Fred Picker who once said “Photographers owe nothing to reality.”