When I came upon these masks in a store window while strolling down a narrow street on a cloudy day in Venice, this is what I saw. Masks. My eyes were riveted on the masks. I found the range of emotion they displayed to be compelling. Inanimate objects expressing human emotions, and expressing them very well. And the reflections of buildings and passersby in the plate glass window added an ethereal touch. Wonderful! I waited for a break in the crowd and took just one photo.
This is the photograph I took. It accurately portrays the scene, but not what I saw. It does not evoke the emotional reaction in me that I had in Italy when I saw the masks. I find the background way too distracting and harsh. I barely noticed the background when I took the photograph.
Cropping helps, but there is still too much going on in the image that takes away from the masks. What I saw was soft and ethereal rather than harsh and angular, so I used Photoshop to soften background and angularity.
The final image has a vignette to white and is printed on watercolor paper. It has been in several shows and people seem to either like it or find it somewhat disturbing. Regardless, it gets noticed and it evokes an emotional response, which is what I think art is all about.
I have had many conversations with friends, photographers, and painters about the ethics of altering photographs for artistic purposes. Future posts will probably go into this in more detail, but for now the question is, which of these images depicts reality? I think you already know my answer, what is yours?