The other day I read an article in which the author said something along the lines of, “I don’t like Photoshopped pictures.” I immediately said to myself, “WHAT? Have you not seen the power of this software?”
Do you feel that it’s cheating to use Photoshop? Does Photoshop help or hurt you as a photographer? Do you use it as a crutch?
Photoshop can be overused. If the author was talking about photographers using Photoshop to make people look like they’re hanging with the President or if they change out body parts with a celebrity, then yes, I agree. I don’t like fake looking pictures either. This writer wasn’t referring to that. She was suggesting we should be satisfied with pictures right out of the camera.
If you have access to the perfect location, the perfect subject and props, all the time you need (and patience), the best gear all custom calibrated to the appropriate situation, the perfect lighting, and it all collides at the same time, then you might not need to lean on Photoshop to further process the picture. All you would need to do is send it to the printer.
In reality with most photography, you have one or more of these components skewed and the resulting pictures need a little help, some “pop” if you will. Even if everything is right in camera, the photo might still need some added character or drama.
Think of Photoshop like the make-up isle.
Do you need it? Maybe or maybe not. Maybe a little or maybe a lot. It’s subjective. Some ladies don’t leave their homes without foundation, powder, eye shadow, mascara, etc. They feel undone. To a certain point, I fall into this camp with both make-up and photos. I usually shoot in auto white balance and fix it in Photoshop. There, I said it. I leave white balance to the computer because it’s easier. I also like adjusting colors and saturation in Photoshop – it’s easier and so much fun! But using Photoshop doesn’t devalue a picture. In my opinion it totally enhances it!
I’m an on location, natural light photographer with a tilt towards the photo-journalistic style of photography. I don’t always have the best lighting situations. I look for back-lighting, shade, or natural reflectors to boost the light. I prefer to capture a moment as it is happening and tend to stay away from the posed/styled looks. This is what I’ve discovered about my “style” of photography. That doesn’t mean I hate styled, posed, or studio photography. I have been asked to produce these styles of photography, and I will continue to provide these styles for my clients. I just know where my “sweet spot” is when I’m in control of the photography variables.
Today’s digital photography world allows us to skip some steps and fix them on the computer later. Please don’t get me wrong; Photoshop can only fix a picture so much – focus, exposure, and composition should be solid in camera. When you use Photoshop to fix a poorly executed shot, it’s like putting lipstick on a pig. Remember, the previous generation of photographers had access to fixes too in their dark rooms.
What they did not have was the instant feedback from a camera display. But, just like the current generation of photographers, it still takes practice to figure out what works.
I love the vast array of topics and subjects in the world of photography. There are so many different niches and styles leaving room for us all. What I have a problem with are the negative attitudes out there like the one I read. I would prefer to encourage and work with fellow photographers so we all continue to develop our skills. Figuring out our weaknesses and working on making them strengths is an important goal to have in photography. We need to remember for whom we are taking pictures. So, use your Photoshop skills to make some fun art for your clients. Their opinion of your work is what matters most!
Project MCP: Highlights for Challenge #2
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