Due to the ubiquity of digital media, many people now experience the built world through images – not through physical buildings themselves. It’s a topic that writer Nicholas Hune-Brown explores in his essay True or False, featured in the March/April issue of Azure. Through a series of conversations with top international photographers and architects, Hune-Brown asks: how far can you alter a photograph before it become a false depiction of reality?
Of course, that’s an ethical question, and one with no easy answers. Some photographers argue that images should be edited to align with an architect’s vision – they shouldn’t be penalized for poor workmanship caused by budget cuts or inferior contractors. Or, by mandated street signage or lamp posts that inadvertently interfere with a building’s silhouette. Others say that editing photos is a slippery slope, and that as photographers, it’s their role to depict reality, flaws and all.
Virtually all professional-shot architectural photographs are tweaked to some degree during post-production. But how far can editing go before the images distort the truth? As an example, we’ve edited one copyright-free photo, of the Library and Learning Center in Vienna by Zaha Hadid Architects, breaking the image down step by step to see if there is a point where the alterations have clearly gone too far. Take a look and let us know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Photoshop edits were acceptable? Where do you draw the line? Send us your thoughts at email@example.com.