An Extremely Controversial Photo of Siblings

When the word “controversial” pops into your head, is this image what you’d be picturing? Probably not!

I had posted this image on the MCP Facebook Page in February showcasing our newest Lightroom presets (InFusion and Illuminate).  I never expected to hear anything except, “cute kids” or “how did you do that?” or “great save.” No laws were being broken.  No kids were harmed.  It was an image that was not exposed properly.  That’s it!

infused light71 600x400 An Extremely Controversial Photo of Siblings
pin it4 An Extremely Controversial Photo of Siblings

Instead, I had angry photographers blame me for all kinds of “crimes,” such as:

  • Ruining the photography industry
  • Teaching people to fix images in Lightroom or Photoshop so they do not need to learn their cameras
  • Helping new photographers undercut experienced pros
  • Showing images from people who have no business being photographers

And well, the list was longer than that but you get the idea…

The back story….

This image is by a wonderful photographer, Dayna More. She is active on our Facebook Group and had shared the image there first.  She had explained that she was practicing flash photography when her daughter reached down,  picked up some sand and started eating it.  Oops!  So she turned off her flash and focused on being a mom.  When her son began consoling her daughter, she was touched and started snapping pictures again.  Guess what she forgot to change in the heat of the moment?  Her camera settings!  It’s not that she did not know how to expose.  It’s not that she is a bad photographer – in fact she is great!  She just had a lapse.  And that lapse was what allowed her to capture the moment.

If she paused and changed settings and took some test shots, and adjusted…. she would have likely missed this precious image. You cannot recreate raw emotion. She captured it, and sure the exposure was not perfect.  She and I never said it was.  But why would you trash the image when you can “save” it as shown above or create art from it as shown below?

This edit was from the same raw file as the one earlier.  Trash?  Nope – not to me.  Amazing image? Definitely!


Illuminate 21 after 600x400 An Extremely Controversial Photo of Siblings
pin it4 An Extremely Controversial Photo of Siblings

MCP Thoughts – Tolerance and understanding…

When it comes to photographers, some are looking to become professionals in the future and others just want nice images of their kids, grand kids, pets, or the nature around them. Not every photographer that reads MCP tutorials or uses our products wants to compete with the pros.  Some just want better images.

While new photographers are learning to use their cameras, lighting, etc, should they trash every image?  No.  Why not learn software like Photoshop and Lightroom so that they can keep images as they learn and grow their camera skills?  Sure, the goal is quality images straight out of camera, it just is not the reality.  Particularly when someone is new to photography.

Illuminate 22 after2 600x400 An Extremely Controversial Photo of Siblings
pin it4 An Extremely Controversial Photo of Siblings

Broken legs and crutches… what do they have to do with photography and editing?

Imagine breaking your leg at your own wedding…  I did.  It sucked.  Afterwards, for three months (THREE!), I had a cast up to the top of my thigh.  I had trouble walking and needed crutches to get around and even after my cast came off, I needed the extra help of crutches as I worked on my walking skills.  Eventually I needed the crutches less and less. And eventually I walked on my own.

Photography is a lot like this.  When most start out, they rely on auto mode, and then the infamous portrait face or running man.  Eventually as a photographer learns more, they branch out to aperture or speed priority and onto manual. This carries over into editing too.  When you are new to photography, the “crutches” or tools can help you edit.  Sure, our actions and presets can save images that you may otherwise trash.  But they can also make it easier and faster to edit — and many tell us that the way we build our products and teach people how to use them, it has actually taught them the ins and outs of Photoshop and Lightroom.

Your call… take them or leave them.

I truly feel that I am allowing people the opportunity to enhance photos, occasionally “save” an image, and create an artistic interpretation of their imagery. There are times where even the most experienced photographers need a boost in Lightroom or Photoshop, just as the darkroom was utilized from the past. Many experienced photographers use editing software to create works of art. And to me, I think it is wonderful.

Hopefully, no matter where you are at with your photography skills, we can all support and respect the work of others and embrace our differences instead of exploit them.

 An Extremely Controversial Photo of Siblings

Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that make editing faster, easier and more fun.

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127 Comments and 24 Replies

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  1. 101
    teri says:

    I hate that you receive abuse from anyone. You’ve taught me so many things over the years with your videos. And, your actions innovative and amazing, always. They make my life easier and save me more time that I can count!

    People never cease to amaze me. Seriously, if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing! No one cares to hear you spew nastiness. Truly, it shows nothing about the person of whom you’re speaking and volumes about yourself!

    Jodi – You’re an asset to our industry! Thank you for all you’ve done, all you do and all that you continue to do! You are a true professional!

  2. 102
    k Randle says:

    I wonder why people jump at the chance to howl? And why they give themselves permission to rant at other folks? If you had been selling drugs, or advocating teenage sex or something, maybe yeah – but meh. What they don’t realize is that they are not making an important point, but they are exposing themselves as dorks. Life comes in a million packages – I’d prefer not to be an ugly one, thank you very much. I hope, when you read this stuff they wrote, you just sort of blinked and shook your head and rolled your eyes. That’s the healthy way to go, isn’t it? I don’t play with my exposures the way you do – but I will fight to the death for your right to make wonderful magic. (She bows, smiles and waves.)

  3. 103
    Jessica says:

    Maybe if some of those old school photographers learned how to use the wonderful image editing software that we have available to us today, they wouldn’t be so angry.

    Times have changed and image manipulation is a wonderful thing to know how to do. Sure, a perfect exposure in camera is the best way to go for the sharpest image. But that isn’t always possible.

    I think the real issue here is jealousy. They are jealous that someone is able to earn an income creating shortcuts (presets and actions for others).

  4. 104
    Brooke says:

    I think both the adjusted image and the more silhouette-y one have their merits, but I just want to hear more about how you broke your leg at your wedding.

  5. 105
  6. 106
    Ana Garcia says:

    WOW I cannot believe that people who call themselves professional photographers would even give a negative comment on that shot! It’s stunning! Being a professional photographer does not give one the right to trash nor tear up someone else’s work of art, what is so professional about trashing and tearing up someone else’s art work?

    You do an awesome job of helping and teaching others. Keep up the great and positive work, good things come to those who treasures others ♥

    Thank you Jodi, for being YOU :)

  7. 107

    Jodi, I think what you do is AMAZING! The “tricks” of the trade and help is immeasurable. Photo editing is EVERY WHERE! Thank you for your help and don’t stop! There will ALWAYS be haters. If they don’t like using editing software, then don’t, but don’t criticize those that do just b/c you disagree. This is AMERICA that’s why there is freedom of choice. Use it or don’t but respect everyone’s opinion and move on.

    Just my 2cents.


  8. 108
    Donna Jones says:

    Jodi, the image is great both ways. I don’t understand people who criticize you…you are providing great photography helps, great products, good info and content appropriate for beginner or seasoned photographer. As my grandmother used to tell me….those who criticize you are probably just jealous and definitely not worth your time. Keep up the good work….Donna Jones

  9. 109
    LWhite says:

    This article caught my eye and after I read it I am rather speechless. I can’t believe you received backlash for this? I think the people ranting about this are pretty insecure photographers if they take this as a threat. I think this was a great save and it an adorable photo. Yeah, none of us want to make habits of under or over exposing our images and having to spend time fixing our mistakes in software. However, to some point we can fix mistakes and at time we must to save a once in a life time moment. With that said, I would be curious to see how well this photo would look printed. I mean we are looking at it on the small size here on a website. Lot of times when you underexpose an image even when your recover it you get color noise and such when you blow it up to 100%. So there is some degradation in pixel quality. Other than that,I think overall what an amazing save.

  10. 110
    Sharla says:

    I’m so sorry that people felt the need to be mean. We all start somewhere. I myself am a “new” photographer and I study like nobody’s business! But we all need a learning curve. No ONE begins as a great photographer, that’s not my experience talking , just common sense! I love your blogs and sets, although I don’t use them regularly that doesn’t make a difference. Keep doing what your doing and know that many others appreciate you! :)

  11. 111
    Lynn says:

    Go girl – wonderfully said – photography is for all of us to enjoy and parents capturing child hood images that means something to them is important. Isn’t it wonderful that the imperfect image can be made to be the perfect image that captured a moment. It’s not all about money and not all of us can become professional photographers …. and we all can’t afford to have a professional photographer by our side at all times – sometimes being good enough is ok – help from actions is great. Keep up the good work.

  12. 112
    Victoria says:

    What I’ve learned over the past several years is that no matter what hobby, profession or career, you will find passionate people who take that passion to a whole new level of crazy. My daughter loved horses for years… until she met that one (of many) over-the-top “crazy horse lady” who ruined it for her, possibly forever. She has not sat atop a horse, nor wanted to do anything with horses since. I do not understand why a passion, talent, gift, whatever.. makes one the king or queen of nasty. I hope I will NEVER do that to anyone. We all started at the beginning, no matter WHAT we do. Can’t we just remember that and help others who share our passion instead of denigrating them and discouraging a fellow (or future) peer? Someone desperately needs a time out. Sorry this happened to you… I love your product and am grateful for the creative effort you put into it.

  13. 113
    Bobbi says:

    Wow!! I am not one to usually comment, but I could not read this and not say a few things:
    first, i am a rather new photographer/business owner and have recently started using your actions and they have done wonders for my photos. In most cases the actions take an already good picture and give it that extra something special & catchy. this has been nothing but a blessing to me to come across such user-friendly and cost efficient materials.
    Second…how incredibly rude for someone to say about such a wonderful picture and illustration of what the combination of capturing a great moment & having knowledge of editing software can do for a keepsake that may have otherwise been overlooked. These people are just looking for a bone to pick and are clearly showing just how “professional” they are in making such arrogant and underhanded comments.
    Third, and lastly, THANK YOU for taking the time to address this and reinforce what your brand is about and what you believe in…it only further reinforces my support for what you do and the MCP brand. very well said Jodi! thanks for all you do!
    Bobbi Rogers, Columbus, Ohio

  14. 114
    Donna says:

    I think photographers who think Photoshop is cheating are just intimidated because they don’t want to learn Photoshop. Photoshop is the ‘new’ darkroom…the traditional darkroom is almost obsolete and people who know the ‘old style’ are resistant to change. Besides, it doesn’t take just 5 minutes to change a photo in Photoshop, so what does it matter if a photographer takes the time before or after the shoot?

  15. 115
    Jade Maitre says:

    Here, here. Powerful article Jodi.

    There are so many wonderful ways to make images with a range of tools. In the end, the quality of a photo will always come down to the eye who is seeing and creating the image. I have seen professional photographers with a poor eye for filters and amateurs who have a talent at creating stunning images. Professional photography is not something mysterious; it is creating beauty, and the range of applications we have are merely tools.

    There is also so much to be said for creating supportive communities of photographers across the world. The demand for photographers is not fixed and finite; we do not need to criticise each other but only join together to mutually inspire each other in capturing people’s special moments.

    Watching your videos for the Infusion presets was the first time I had done so and I was impressed with your work on the photo. You’ve created something beautiful from accidental moments, and that is what photography should be all about.

  16. 116
    amanda says:

    I think it’s ridiculous the backlash you received over this. Sure it’s our goal as professional photographers to get our images as perfect as possible SOOC but sometimes that doesn’t happen. I think it’s wonderful that images like this can be saved with some clever editing techniques. And if this had been an image of my children, I would have been thrilled to have been able to save it! I admit, I do minimal editing to most of my images but I have found myself in positions where I needed a bit of extra help :)

  17. 117
    Sona says:

    WOW! as a beginner I am flabbergasted. Are we to understand these same people do not use smart phones, ipads, washing machines or cars for that matter, all of which have made our lives easier and time more manageable. Again as a beginner, whose business is it when someone wants to play with their own photos, or learn one process over another? Quite frankly,it makes the “pros” sound childish and petty. It is true I have only heard one side of the story but I hope some of these same people will reconsider some of their outrage and apologize for their short shortsightedness.

  18. 118
    Mandy Provan says:

    I have to echo what has been said before and just encourage you to carry on the great work you do Jodi!!! :) Your posts are always informative and helpful and as has been said on almost all of the posts before mine – people who have nothing good to say should really not say anything at all.
    As a photographer who appreciates the brilliance of post production editing, I applaud your posts on making our editing easier and the wonderful actions you put together to make that editing available to those of us who are not as well versed or skilled in Photoshop. Big up to you for sharing your knowledge and making the world of post production SO much less frustrating….and so much more beautiful! :)

  19. 119
    mm says:

    Are people shouting at lecturers not to take any new students to schools and universities ? No. Internet is in some way a school itself and who is willing share the knowledge, its free to do so. If some photographers feel threatened because other people would learn the skill, I think its maybe this kind of photographers who are not actually good at it, because a good photographer recognises his/hers talent and strong sides, is willing to learn and teach, and his good works would shine through his images so has nothing to fear ( and its willing to adapt to changing markets ). If you dont wanna share your knowledge, it’s your choice but stop bullying other photographers decision, if they are willing to do so. Its their right, own choice their freedom.

    PS: thanx for sharing your tips, dont get discouraged by bullies

  20. 120

    Thank you for your spot-on response to the rude and unnecessary comments. The last two examples you mention, in particular, struck a cord with me. I’ve spent the last few years honing my photography skills, studying photography books, reading dozens of online articles, and following the work of photographers I admire. I just want to improve, always. Making photographs brings me joy, and sometimes, my creations bring joy to others, too. Sometimes people pay me for photos, sometimes I give them away. I don’t make these choices to undercut “real” photographers (someone else’s words, not mine), I make them based on the situation, and for my own reasons. How dare anyone tell another person they “have no business” being a photographer? If someone is inspired to pick up a camera and try to make something beautiful – and then share it with others – that should be celebrated! At the end of the day, if the person behind the camera is lacking in passion and artistic talent, then all the technical knowledge in the world won’t help him/her make a great photo.

  21. 121
    Lisa Hawkins says:

    I really don’t care what the critics say, I say keep teaching, and I will keep learning, that’s why we are in a digital age, hey if some one likes the old dark room techniques that’s great, but don’t punish anyone who wants to come to the 21′st century. I like the fact that I can save a picture, or manipulate a picture on my own terms, with my own artistic view, and learn my camera at my own pace,I am not what I would call a professional photographer, but I want great pictures to scrapbook, and make fabulous and unique pictures to hang on the wall without all the hassle of finding buttons, without missing anything, then if its so so or not great, I can correct and make amazing images. Your work is amazing and please keep inspiring us.

  22. 122
    Shari says:

    Yes a hugh part of photography is about using a camera, but there is not a photographer out there that will say that’s all you need. You need to also have an eye and creativity. No one says “i want to be a camera operator”, they want to be a photographer and learning how to use a camera and manipulate it to do what you want is all part of that and take years to learn. And sometimes, getting the shot is more important than the “perfect” exposure.

  23. 123
    Autumn says:

    Art is about a connection. A “good” photograph should connect with you. And there is no doubt that Dayna’s edits (above) create a more powerful connection. Does it really matter what other people think about her path, her skills, to creating her art?


    This is a great print for canvas. The backstory of sand-eating, priceless.

  24. 124
    Carol says:

    I agree with what Andrea says 100%
    I can not stand the argument that using tools/technology to improve the finished project makes a piece of work less valuable or the user less talented/skilled. Editing software is an extension of the camera and photographic process to achieve the desired result. That is like saying that a carpenter who uses power tools to create a beautiful piece of furniture is somehow faking it,
    I’m going to hire a photographer based on the final product. It makes no difference to me if it was straight out of the camera, or fixed to my liking in Photoshop.”

    I happen to actually love the editing process! I think I am one of the few

  25. 125
    Rachel says:

    Thank you for a rational and respectful response to the criticism of others. Just goes to show some people jump the gun and form judgements without seeing the complete picture. Should be a lesson to all of us as a general life lesson. Don’t jump to conclusions before you know all the facts!

  26. 126
    Julie says:

    This is such an insightful response to the critics. I am sure that some of them have had shots they deleted which could have been edited. I learned photography in college back in the 70′s when there was only film. And we were taught how to manipulate a photo in the darkroom. I had to teach myself digital photography, which, I must say, was a bit easier reading posts from you and others. I have seen “amateurs” and “hobbyists” that have a better eye than some “pros”. Thank you again for your insights.

  27. 127

    Amen Jodi!
    Most pro photographers I know use editing software, Some lightly, some a bit more. One thing I can say about most of them: they are not afraid to share tips, tricks, work-arounds, tutorials, KNOWLEDGE!

    For those that get all bent out of shape: if you are as good as you think you are, if you market yourself and run your business the way a “professional” business person should, then you should not concern yourself with what hobbyists/ amateurs, semi-pro’s, newbies or anyone else does. If you are as good as you say you are you will make money. There is enough to go around for everyone. If you aren’t maybe you should look into another profession.

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