Being creative may seem like a no-brainer to most who take them for granted. In reality, it’s never easy. Almost every week in my production classes, I have to come up with a story and produce it in a unique way through various mediums in a short span of time. Despite the tedious process, there are still some who underestimate the artistry that goes into production, to which I am trying to understand. How do some people have the audacity to post their pictures with major photo manipulations and call themselves freelance photographers? Why do some celebrities or influencers think that giving a shout-out is enough to give due credit to artists who have worked hard on the “basic social media banners” they’re looking for?
While assisting in a shoot for my internship last June, I stumbled upon a tweet showing what looked like beautifully shot photos of tourist places and promoting a freelance photographer based in Bacolod City named Clyde Gadayan. At first glance, the photos looked aesthetically pleasing and a lot of netizens were praising them. That is until I saw the tweet quoted by art director Eboy Fernandez. Since he was trained to spot mistakes from the biggest to the smallest details, he noticed that the elements in the photos have been poorly cropped together. There were white spaces and harsh edges around few of the elements in the photo like the buildings and the subjects. Anyone knowledgeable about graphic design and photography can immediately tell that these were photoshopped.
By zooming in on the photos, I was able to spot these careless mistakes, and I realized that his work was a mockery of authentic photographs. Fernandez shared that Gadayan’s photos are “unfair for truly talented photographers who do their best to capture real moments.” Gadayan received negative feedback from those experienced and working in the creatives industry, while Communication Arts coursemates also joined the debate. To my surprise, he admitted it in an article for InqPOP! that his photos were indeed photoshopped to get the best results for him and that he still continues to post these photos on his Instagram feed.
A month later, when Gadayan’s issue subsided, people have turned their attention to the tweet of Jameson Blake, Pinoy Big Brother alumni, and Hashtags member. In the tweet, he called for graphic designers to produce a social media banner for a username called “LucidExpress”—and that the best pick will receive a shout-out from him in return. One Filipino netizen replied back, criticizing his tweet and expressing that proper compensation through payment should be given to support Filipino artists and their work. Blake’s reply to this angered many Filipino netizens, as he said he was only “asking for a favor” and that he was just looking for “volunteers.” A netizen replied and told Blake to “just do it himself” if he does not want to pay for it. After all the memes and hate he received, he deleted the tweet and posted a public apology on his social media accounts.
Even though Gadayan considers Photoshop essential to photography, the mere act of manipulating these photographs drastically while calling yourself a “freelance photographer” is questionable. For one thing, to be a real photographer is to capture the natural beauty of life.
In my Hogwarts DLSU class, a literature elective class, all houses were assigned to do a photo essay on how it is to be magical in a Muggle setting. Any kind of photo manipulation such as Photoshop, Lightroom, memes, or text in the photo was strictly prohibited in accomplishing the task. Only revisions such as increasing the exposure of the photos were allowed. When I took a class in Introduction to Photography, my professor told our class that only minimal revisions to our works were allowed to preserve the rawness of the photographs, its authenticity, and how we shot them.
Jameson may have apologized, but that does not necessarily mean his ignorance towards graphic design can justify how his tweet looked down on artists. Nothing in life is free as you have to work hard to get the best results.
I have a friend who was a graphic intern and now works as a freelance graphic designer. He owns a sticker start-up business named estitiks to earn and expanded his business by joining different bazaars to gain a wider reach. He took it in his own hands and drew a career path for himself while balancing his being a student. The passion and quality he gives to his craft are what makes his art more valuable than a
Creatives who are passionate about their craft should never be looked down upon. These people rely on their passion to get through life and this is certainly not “taking the easy way out.” If only Gadayan didn’t falsely advertise himself and his work as raw and original, then maybe his manipulated photos will be appreciated. If Blake properly allotted a budget for compensating artists, then he wouldn’t have angered a community that values graphic design as a respectable profession. One thing is for sure: it takes passion and persistence to create original and quality content. Artists should be given the credit that they deserve.