Back in the "day" the choice of film, choice of developer, temperature, time, agitation, enlarger lens, cropping, dodging, burning, choice of paper, choice of paper developer, and choice of the perfect moment to toss it into the stop bath were all part of the joy of photography - the making of MY photograph.
We still MAKE photographs. I think we mostly still enjoy it.
Reality? My father sent me one of his photographs that I keep as a desktop background. It is as real as could be (my father's style). I feel like could just step into that forest and hike that hill - it is SO real.
I see images here that are very UNREAL but very moving. They touch something in me that needs to be touched.
I frequently take photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, and as I've noticed, if I don't try to think of them in new abstract ways, I don't keep them. What's the point of keeping all the photos that everyone else has? It ends up burning me out of ideas and I don't want to take any at all. I guess the ability to be abstract about your thinking is the best way to keep getting good photos.