Story last updated at 10/2/2012 - 1:10 pm
From the progression of film to digital photography, photographers have a growing tool box of processing abilities. Images can become so altered the question, "Is that a photograph?" is not uncommon. This has created a divergence among photographers: "traditionalists," who believe a photo is true if it captures a raw, minimally altered image, and those who like to play with their work a bit more.
Thirty-three-year-old Juneau photographer Joel Mundy dislikes denouncing cries of what a photograph should be.
"I think that digital tools and methods are just another medium for creating art," Mundy said. "I find the distinction between film and digital to be somewhat irrelevant."
Mundy prefers to define photography as the artistic process that each photographer chooses to employ.
"My main point is that that post-processing is a completely valid part of the artistic process and the resulting artwork is no less valid or real because it was created that way," Mundy said.
Mundy will be featuring a 12-photograph show, simply titled "Color Photography," through October at the University of Alaska Southeast Bookstore. Mundy said the idea for the show is to challenge people's perceptions of what photography is. He selected 12 photographs for the show that encompass a spectrum of processing techniques.
To further illustrate the range of techniques a photographer can apply, Mundy has selected similar images and processed each one quite differently. For example, the show includes four photographs of leaves.
"In one of them, it's just a straight capture," Mundy said. "Another one has a fractal-based filter, which basically looks at shapes and colors in the original image and creates a very abstract image that's color and light. It's sort of a reduction of the original image, a deconstruction of it."
Each of the images in "Color Photography" was chosen to depict a specific color. The series of leaves, for example, includes an image titled, "Green," and others are titled "Indigo" and "Blue."
Mundy said he's received the question of whether his work is an actual photograph in two forms. One form is whether or not the photograph has been taken with a camera, or whether it is a different medium of art. The other form probes into the question of whether an image no longer becomes a photograph after a certain amount of processing. His answer is always "Yes."
Mundy said he has always been interested in photography, but began exploring it more when he enrolled in the University of Alaska Southeast in 2009. Through his education he said he's learned that there are very different aesthetics of what photographs are, particularly fine art photography.
He explained that he feels a deep sense of respect for traditionalist photographers, but said that he wants to showcase everything he has learned, the range of styles he has been experimenting with and exploring.
"I've been developing my own style," Mundy said. "It's taken me awhile to get confident enough to feel free to do that." For him the show is a way to say, "This photograph is extremely altered, but its all part of the artistic process and it doesn't make it any less of a photograph."
Another goal of his exhibit is to display the range of processing techniques into a "very concise experience for the viewers." He wants people to compare them.
"What I'm saying is that they all stand up next together; they're all equally real and valid," he said.
Mundy said his favorite reactions from viewers are the immediate gut instinct ones. Reactions like whether or not they find an image pleasing.
"At a base level that's the response I care about the most," Mundy admitted. "But I also like to stir the pot. I like to say, 'This is photography. This is what I think it is. What do you think it is?'"
This is a conversation Mundy hopes to inspire at his show.
He doesn't plan on explaining how each photograph has been processed.
"I'd just like people to absorb it," he said. "I think more questions will be asked with less information. And the goal is to create a conversation."
The opening reception for "Color Photography" is 5-6:30 p.m. on Oct. 5 at the University of Alaska Bookstore, 11798 Glacier Highway. The show will run through October. To view samples of Mundy's work visit www.harbors2012.com.
Amanda Compton is the staff writer for the Capital City Weekly. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.