To Stage, or Not to Stage.

When I was in college, one of the things that I remember being surprised about was that some (maybe many) photographers stage their photos. Photos that appear to be random, and natural, are sometimes very staged.

One of the most shocking examples (to me) is that of Matthew Brady and his team of American Civil War photographers. There are many people that believe Brady’s battlefield images were not natural as they were seen on the battlefield, but many bodies were moved and rearranged to make better photos. Much the same as you would arrange objects in a still life, or people for a family portrait.

So, as I’m thinking about this, when you’re taking photos of landscapes, for example, do you rearrange items to make your photo look better? You choose an angle to shoot from in order to get the composition you want. So what if you just move a few things around to enhance composition, or move some bodies around in a post-battle scene to enhance composition? Here’s a link to an article about photos that were, supposedly, manipulated in various ways. From a journalism point of view, I understand how modified photos could have greater impact, but I’m not sure that’s honest, or right.

Is this OK? I’d love to hear your feedback and ideas. I’m not sure I like to do this, but I suppose it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.