What is straight photography? This manual covers all there is to know about straight photography. You may be familiar with the phrase, but you may not know what it implies. We’ve got you covered, though!
What is Straight Photography?
A photograph that captures a scene or subject in sharp focus and detail without using any editing techniques is referred to as straight photography. Is photography a form of art? Since the camera’s creation, detractors have claimed that it cannot be compared to painting and drawing because it is merely a mechanical tool for recreating reality.
Then comes the instant camera, where detractors have long criticized the art. Can photography be deemed an art form with a simple button press? Without discussing pictorial photography, which gave rise to straight photography, an explanation will never be comprehensive.
The Difference Between Straight Photography and Pictorialism
To attempt to capture a situation practically and realistically, Alfred Stieglitz and Paul Strand created Straight Photography in 1904. The use of pre-exposure and post-exposure editing was disregarded by straight photography. Filters, lens coatings, and soft focus are examples of pre-exposure equipment, whereas atypical developing and printing techniques are examples of post-exposure equipment.
However, Pictorialism is distinct from Straight Photography. In contrast to Straight Photography, Pictorialism prefers to blur the background while keeping the main subject sharp. It promoted image modification and alteration to make the pictures resemble monochromatic paintings on fine art paper. While the focus of pictorialism is primarily remarkable, sentimental, and nostalgic, the focus of straight photography is entirely on composition and form. Making images appear more like paintings is Pictorialism’s main goal. However, the main goal of Straight Photography is to make the pictures appear more like pictures and less like paintings. These methods directly oppose one another.
Peter Henry Emerson was a major inspiration for many Pictorial photographers, and the Pictorialists adopted his contempt for the industrial enterprise and mass-produced goods and his belief that photography was a fully-grown modern art form. This served as evidence of photography’s status as a form of art. To make the scenes appear dismal, pictorialists also selected regions with a lot of fog and shadows. They sought out tonal complexity in contrast to their basic subjects, opting for methods like platinum printing, which produced an abundance of soft, middle-gray tones. It is art because they preferred processes that permitted manual manipulation of both negatives and prints.
The Background of Straight Photography
There has always been a push for photography to be recognized as art. The development of methods and processes to create clean images that were taken straight from nature were not deformed, and were as true to the original situation as possible was the main focus of photography from 1840 to 1860. This could be considered the pioneering work in “straight photography.”
The title page of Peter Henry Emerson’s 1890 book, Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Craft, quotes John Keats as saying, “Beauty is reality, truth is beauty, -that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” Emerson proposed that a “proper” photograph shows true and unaltered representations of nature.
Members of the Royal Photography Society largely shared this opinion in the United Kingdom and other early national photographic organizations.
In addition to photographing actual stances rather than manufactured or artificial ones to recreate famous paintings or literary scenes, this naturalistic method promoted realistic rather than painterly portraiture.
Pure photography is the simplest way to define Straight Photography. It relates to a photo shoot that captures a scene or subject in fine detail and excellent focus, in line with the characteristics that set photography apart from other visual media, especially painting. Simple, orderly, and well-detailed. Moreover, some photographers, including myself, are puzzled by this idea.
Since the way the picture is set up, the time, angles, and shadow management can all affect how people see our shot. Do not forget that photographers still manipulate this kind of clean photo in some way. Photographers that modify their images with dark room effects are rather common. These effects produce higher contrast and richer tones.
Straight photography puts a lot of emphasis on the subjects’ underlying abstract structures. It wasn’t only an art style; at least, it was more of a movement.
Examples of Straight Photography
In the past, straight photography was used. Early straight-photography photographers believed that a photograph’s subject matter alone could make it artistic. You know, how the subject is picked, and how the composition, perspective point, and light all work together.
These bizarrely sharp images frequently featured everyday objects that no one really gives a second thought. Professionals’ minds are undoubtedly very different from ours. Sometimes, their objectives are simply too complex for us to comprehend right now. They frequently employ an array of values as a reference (commonly wide). They always manage to include their gemstone in pure black and pure white, which is unusual.
The 1917 work “The Bowls” by Paul Strand and Frederick Henry Evans’ “A Sea of Steps,” which depicts Wells Cathedral’s Steps to Chapter House, are two instances of straightforward photography that may be seen online (1903).
Of course, there are a lot more pictures that are equally important and impactful. These two images simply speak to me more since their subjects are so unremarkable. Rarely do I find pictures of bowls and steps that maintain their simple design while also being beautiful and peaceful.
What Traits Distinguish Straight Photography?
1. No Manipulation
Obviously, the “No Manipulating” guideline is the first hallmark of straight photography. As a result, photographers who practice straight photography must refrain from any kind of image manipulation when using digital processing. The good news is that you may still convert your photos to black and white to get rid of some obtrusive dust and, if necessary, alter the exposure.
2. No Cropping
The “No Cropping” regulation is another trait, but somewhat contentious one. Cropping is a technique that occasionally may improve an image. We are all aware that an image ought to have the perfect message as its base. In various types of photography, cropping is a completely common technique used by photographers to “redirect” viewers’ focus to a specific subject. Unfortunately, that is manipulation. Not to mention, a photographer can potentially accomplish this while taking the picture.
Those are essentially the primary features of straight photography. Some photographers claim it to be the most objective and pure photographic movement, but others definitely disagree.
The three concepts of perception, visualization, and execution are intertwined and independently meaningless. In photography, using a skilled method and the right equipment is crucial. Still, without adding imaginative ideas and taste, even the best technical image is just a hollow shell.
FAQs on What is Straight Photography
What is considered straight photography?
The word generally refers to images that accurately capture the scene or subject as the camera sees it and are not altered in any way, including during the photo shoot, in the darkroom, or digitally.
What is Pictorialism vs straight photography?
Making images appear more like paintings is Pictorialism’s main goal. However, the main goal of Straight Photography is to make the pictures appear more like pictures and less like paintings. These methods directly oppose one another.
What was the purpose of straight photography?
According to the characteristics that set photography apart from other visual mediums, particularly painting, pure photography, also known as straight photography, aims to capture a moment or subject in perfect focus and detail.