I’ll start this piece off by listing some of my credentials so it backs up my points a little… I have 2 certificates in Visual Arts and Design as well as a Bachelors and Masters in Visual Arts, all adding up to almost 8 years in Art practice. Not that this should matter as most photographers are self taught, but I wanted the reader to know that I’m not new to photography or art practice in general.

One of the things I learnt throughout my studies is that Art is subjective, simple as that. You make art from what’s inside you, from ideas and concepts and people are going to either love it or hate it.

I have noticed that as a consequence of the internet there has been a huge growth in community forums ,especially through 2000-2010, and photography ones can be very hostile grounds with members having very opinionated views. I realize that since I am lucky enough to have my own webspace that it is my chance to voice my opinions on HDR photography and the anger that surrounds the artform on neutral territory. I could definitely not post a blog like this on many traditionalists photography websites without their being some pretty angry comments below it. I am writing this blog though in an effort to explain to readers what we go through and possibly to enlighten some.

For those of you who don’t know what HDR is, it is combining a series of bracketed images from one vantage point into one image. HDR images have superior light and colour in the shadows and highlights. You can see all my HDR work here http://www.lukezeme.smugmug.com

Being a HDR photographer myself, my work is often attacked by other photographer’s on various forums and for a while there I took it quite personally. I would receive comments like “HDR is so bad” or “I like the image, but its a HDR… why did you make a HDR?!?”. Eventually I have stopped posting my HDR work and thoughts on certain photography forum’s because I realised the members there were going to carry all these pre-conceieved ideas and perceptions on HDR rather than them being taken for their own merrits. I just didn’t need those aggressive types of attacks in my life and when I think about it now I see it for what it is, which is that elder and more traditional photographers were too over protective of photography and felt like they had some claim to it and I found they had an inability to accept HDR photography into their community. The only HDR that was accepted was HDR that didn’t look like it was HDR but more like their traditional photography, but even then it was a faux pas.

I believe that their aggressive attitude has to do with a widespread availability of camera’s to the general public meaning all of a sudden they weren’t so Elite any more. Gone are the days when all newly wed couples will hire expensive photographer’s to shoot their weddings when they can just ask their cousin ‘Susie’ who is an art student and want’s to do it for free. Her camera cost’s a few hundred dollars but it produces beautiful and sharp images and it would be sentimental to let her do it. This situation was played throughout the world over and over again and it hurt a lot of photographer’s financially. It wasn’t just weddings and other functions which they were losing, but the ability for images to be copied via the internet was devastating to them. Why would you spend hundreds of dollars to purchase a photograph when you could just copy the image of the internet and print them yourselves. There were many changes in the way the world was printing and displaying work which was really detrimental t the systems of old.

HDR photography has become the ‘poster boy’ of modern photography and has therefore unfortunately had to take the brunt of this misguided anger from traditional photographers. It is a sad reality, but many photography shops went under in the 2000’s and last year even Kodak eventually toppled over. HDR photographer’s have been receiving negativity from traditionalists for years now I don’t think they realised the source of it for a long time, and some probably still don’t. Traditionalist’s, I think, had lost the love of making and sharing art maybe or just didn’t have the ability to adapt their practices with the changing times. Whatever the reasons, I think a lot of us were wrongly attacked and have therefore headed to places where we feel safe and can share our work freely. Some of these communities exist on google+, and I know of a few others where you can share your HDR work without the dreaded and inevitable unwarranted attacks. It’s certainly not the general public who attack us, it is only specific types of photographers.

Im certainly not trying to instigate anything with them, but for a long time now our artworks have been viciously torn apart by them and now I still care what they say but it doesn’t cut nearly as deep. I mostly just ignore them because Im happy creating the imagery I do and I have a following who appreciate the work I produce. Simply put their antagonistic manner simply slides off these days.

If you think back to the times when impressionism was trying to take hold in Paris. The current view of the style was that it was ridiculous and had no place in the art industry. Today, people fly from all over the world to view Monet’s and Renoir’s and the works are considered some of the great masterpieces of all time. Not that I’m that conceited to compare my work to Monet but rather pointing out that confrontations like this between two art style’s has been played out through history 100’s and 100’s of times in art, music and writing. Always each side believing that there way is in the right.

Art has many functions within society as well as to the individual and one of those functions is enjoyment. We must not forget that it’s everyone’s right to be able to create and share images, no one group or community should have the right to belittle another just for sharing and producing work that they enjoyed producing…

Thanks, if you made it this far through. If you did Id imagine you weren’t a traditionalist 😉


p.s. leave a comment below if you want to get involved in the discussion

and i’ll finish off the topic with one of my recent HDR works titled “The Bullet train” which I took during my travels through Japan, this one in Kyoto.


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2 Comments on "HDR- An easy attack target ?"

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Tim Ziegler
Luke. I have followed you for a while now at the suggestions of several people. I love HDR photography and have been trying my best to reproduce images in magazines, books, etc. I have great respect for all people in any form of art what I may like or not like is only relative to me not to anyone else. My photographs are both traditional and what I would consider more modern. I am a technical photographer I like that being more analytical, but my personal best have been pics of the cuff so to speak. So I think that… Read more »
Luke Zeme
Thanks for the comment Tim 🙂 Yes it shouldn’t matter if you are a professional or a enthusiast, you should respect another person’s right to produce artworks. This blog isn’t targeting all traditionalists but merely those ones who attack HDR work in forums and on photo hosting sites for no reason. It certainly doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate traditional and technical photography as I produce images like that also. I think this blog will speak to other HDR photographer’s because they will most likely have gotten negative feedback more than once or twice just because they posted a HDR… Read more »
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