4299481350_da6ce7d335_oLast week I came across my name and a link to one of my recent blog posts in a forum (thanks to Google alerts), and in the same sentence were the words “… photographers vastly overuse the Photoshop crutch to repair their images”. Another photographer chimed in and said that we should “shoot it correctly in the first place – you won’t make any money in Photoshop”. (Hmm … last I checked the guys over at NAPP don’t seem to be hurting.) :)

Now, I’m not the kind of person to get into heated discussions in a forum (and I actually think that that kind of thinking is out-dated and somewhat comical) so I stayed out of it. But the idea did stick with me … and if I could have a face-to-face conversation with someone like that over coffee, what would I say? Well, keep reading and you’ll find out.

First of all, who really cares? Some people get so wrapped up in the process that they forget what our goal is as photographers – to create memories and make beautiful images. It doesn’t matter how perfect you photograph something in-camera, in my opinion it can always benefit from a little touch-up. And just to set the record straight: getting it right in-camera is a wonderful thing, and I highly encourage it! I want to spend as little time staring at pixels on my computer screen as possible and still get wonderful results, and when I perfect an image before it hits my computer then I shave off a lot of time to my editing.

But if a photographer wants to heavily rely on Photoshop to make their images look good, then so what? I really don’t undersand why it’s such a big deal. Photography is evolving and changing, but it’s still photography if you digitally edit, enhance, crop, tint, or alter your images. I’m sure that there is a point when the image crosses the “photography” line and becomes “digital art”, but think of some of the types of photographs we can create these days that were difficult in the past. HDR would not be possible without using some sort of post-processing software … but we could always argue that it’s still something that could be carried out in a wet darkroom, tedious though it may be (as are several other methods of post-processing).

I also wonder, is the overall debate an issue of new technology and younger photographers? Are these people worried that they’re going to lose their corner of the market to someone who’s owned an SLR for three months but can use a computer? As a photographer heavily involved in micro-stock I’ve seen other photographers throw a lot of hateful comments towards the industry in general, and there is only one word that I can use to describe those types of people: insecure. If you’re really afraid that your job is at risk, then adapt and overcome. The cream will always rist to the top.

And in my own defense – I do know photography, and I have a pretty good understanding of light … but I still use Photoshop. And back when I was shooting film and processing images in both color and black-and-white wet darkrooms, I still had to adjust the color and tones, and even use filters to make my prints look the way I envisioned them. Oh, and I even had to push-process my film every once in a while cause T-Max didn’t go past 3200 ISO. Is all of that cheating, too?

When I hear comments like I read in that forum post I always wonder if there’s more “between the lines” than what is actually said. I don’t think those people are anti-Photoshop, I think that they try to justify their insecurities and refusal to adapt by belittling photographers and artists who do use digital editing tools. But enough of all this talk – I’m gonna stop ranting and go make some more photos. Cause, as we all know, talking about photography is not doing photography.

Photo by Rich Legg