I second this.
The forecasting/reporting site Weatherunderground has 1.4 million images now. Many are good.
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I think a young person who sees his photograph could be inspired. Unlike the technically astute here, that young person will have no knowledge of what it takes to create such an image -- but they may be inspired to try. Hence, they may buy a good camera and get busy trying to emulate what he's done. As such, they'll learn a lot about photography; they may even create some images that other people find pleasing. I don't think there's a downside to that.
Until after years of trying and not even getting close to replicating this image, they give up on photography in utter frustration. Shortly thereafter, they find this thread, realized they've been duped and wasted the best years of their life pursuing the impossible and in their rage and depression shoot the nearest photographer they can find.
Why the need to "debunk" whatever story he has to tell.
He produced a good image, and he has prints for sale.
I can tell you that if I were to produce an image that good, I wouldn't tell anyone how I did it. I'd have you running all over creation chasing the tales I told about it. But I sure wouldn't give you the truth.
The guy gave us a wonderful visual image -- more than we deserve. He owes me nothing.
There's nothing else to it for me.
First, I want to say that I'm not talking about photojournalism which, I believe, we pretty much all agree should not be "faked." Nor am I talking about purely commercial photography intended purely for marketing.
There seems to be a divide between people who ask nothing more of a photo than that it be appealing, and those who find part of the appeal in its context. To me, art always includes context. For example, consider modern artists who do abstract, almost random works. Without knowing that these folks used to do perfect portraits in art school, you might think it was random crap made by just throwing paint on a canvas. The context tells you there is, or might be, a deeper meaning in the work.
Photographic context begins with the characteristic that is unique to photography among the visual arts: the fact that the "palette" comes from reality. A painter's palette is just paint waiting for the brush; a sculptor's palette is the marble from which some Michelangelo will remove all the parts which are not the statue. How much of a photograph is "real" is important because it tells me something about a photographer's intent. Consider a close-up photograph of a tiger staring straight into the camera. Does it have a different meaning if the photographer said it was "in the wild" with a 200mm lens vs. in a zoo or game park with a 600mm lens? It does to me. "How" a work was produced is important to its value as art.
While I agree that it's acceptable to manipulate images, it's not acceptable to lie about it. It's OK to remain silent as to the origin also. Lying about the origin of a photo is cheating the viewer out of the context of the photo.
In this case, it appears that the photographer may be lying outright about how he made the image. To you this does not matter; however, apparently it mattered to Mr. Lik enough that he went to the trouble of presenting a full back-story on the creation of the image. One must assume that's also meaningful to the buyers of his prints as well. If this is true, he is, metaphorically, marketing a photo of a captive tiger as though it were a wild tiger. And that ain't cool.
I am at the totally other extreme - I sell absolutely nothing
I do a lot of pro bono work - probably 3 or 4 days a week.
It would be too complicated and expensive to take on jobs on a semi pro basis - the insurances, marketing, tax issues (VAT) etc.
It is cheaper and a whole lot more fun to do it for nothing - I get some wonderful assignments that would not come my way otherwise.