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Yesterday I bumped into the inimitable Laurie Kratochvil, photo editor par excellence, who told me to make sure and read the profile of digital retoucher Pascal Dangin in this week’s issue of The New Yorker
The profile is interesting, in the thoughtful, thorough, and long way that New Yorker articles tend to be. But it raises some important points about the art of photography now.
Dangin is the owner and resident genius of Box Studios in New York, the place where lots of big fashion photographers, magazines, and advertisers get their images perfected for print. “His success lies…in his ability to marry technical prowess to an aesthetic sensibility: his clients are paying for his eye, and his mind, as much as for his hand,” writes the article’s author, Lauren Collins.
At this point I think we’re all aware of how important retouchers have become to the photographic process. Often, as the article points out, it is Dangin who creates a successful image by altering the work a photographer has already done.
So I have a question I’d like to put out into the world: Should retouchers like Dangin be given photo credits when their work results in something useful? If it truly is his artistry that makes an image work, shouldn’t we know that? Of course that might upset lots of photographers. But what do you think?
(Above: A photo of Dangin for the New Yorker by Josef Astor. I don’t know if it was retouched.)—David Schonauer