So I've been a photographer for a long time and having been digital for a couple of decades while doubling with film photography up until about 2004. I have been posting images on Flickr and a few other sites since 2005. Over the last few years I've noticed that some of the purity of photography has changed for better or worse. It wasn't until the mid 1940's that photography was recognized as art. This got me to thinking (oh no) how is the expectations of photography changing for the creators and for the viewers. One has but to look on the current crop of photography and social sites to see that imagery has totally changed due to AI and software almost overnight. With the advent of digital movies (AKA Pixar) and digital effects, reality has become surreal and real at the same time. Don't get me wrong, there are still those who keep it as it was, however this certainly may not be as popular with the masses, as capturing the moments as seen by the naked eye.
The line between photographer and illustrator has been crossed. I often get pushes and emails from the Xbox/Playstation Fantasy Photo groups. It's a whole other world of totally unreal faux created electronic art and it is very popular in some circles. So my point is the digital palette is wide open for creation from the infinite algorithms with the clicks of a mouse or digital pen pad.
Now the second part of this is the edits that reside in the middle spaces between real and surreal. It is possible to use software to enhance real scenes through layers of change and enhancement. This includes, lighting, shadows, highlights, color, details, mystical highlighting, remove digital artifacts and changing or enhancing contrast and softness. The ability to remove, insert or replace people, skies and objects with software is now easily accomplished. Camera's have built in effects and scene modes. The are thousands of applications for cellphones and tablet cameras. We can now even see the outcome of the image before we even photograph it. The outcomes are infinite for the ability of photographers to create a totally new scene or to edit the image just this side of a touch of enhanced fantasy.
The popularity for photographs and photographers that create surreal beauty in the golden age of digital photography has grown abundantly of late. Be assured photography software is a billion dollar money making business. The are thousands of tutorials, teaching and helpers on You Tube and the internet. Over the last decade the thousands of photographers who took up the hobby now trying to make money from their photography is threefold. There are those who are giving their images away to magazine publishers and others in an effort to be published, when we use to get paid for use of our photos by magazines, ads and publishers. Ok, so I'm getting a bit off track here, one thing leads to another!
In closing, the upside of all of this is the creativity and awesome surrealism of images being edited and posted on the internet. It's sometimes hard to tell what is real and never hard at all to know that which is not. I give praise to those who keep it real with minimal editing of their photography, that is the harder part of making stunning photo's in this day and golden age of digital photography.
That being said, reality in photography probably is not as popular! More so than not, human being have an internal desire to change themselves to be and feel different promoted by what they see. Fantasy feeds that part of our brains and ego's.