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Are you a photoshopper or a photographer?

Candid portrait of Willy. Click on the image to see a large version.

Before working on the portrait of Willy above I spent an afternoon desk bound carefully retouching another portrait in Photoshop. It got me thinking about how many hours I spend working on images in front of the computer. The conclusion: way too many!

All around us we are inundated with images that strive to portray human perfection, from the sublime to the ridiculous in some cases. Just take a look at Photoshop disasters to see what I mean.

How many books, articles, tutorials are there showing you how to smooth skin, remove the faintest wrinkle, whiten the eyes, change the jaw line and the list goes on till nobody looks like themselves anymore in a photograph.

Well I'm declaring myself out of that particular race for unnatural perfection. Keep it real, raw and natural. If you've got laughter lines it's because you earned them and you should be proud of them.

As for the photography: get it right in camera. If the light is good and the composition works, and all the other technical stuff has been taken care of you will need very little post processing. And that's what I'm aiming at. I'd rather be taking photos than sitting behind a computer. I'm definitely a photographer, not a photoshopper. The portrait of Willy above is virtually straight out of the camera - just cropped.




Tracy E. said…
Steve said…
As it should be!
ronsbell said…
Well said. These things can certainly be overdone, but since post-processing of one kind or another has been part of photography since the inception of the art, where are you drawing the line. And why?
Paul Indigo said…
Ronsbell: thanks for your comment. I don't think I made it clear enough that I am not some sort of purist against all Photoshop. Where I draw the line is that the image should look as if it was achieved in camera with just a bit of traditional photographic enhancement - dodging, burning, saturation etc. I can't stand most HDR where the image looks like a cartoon, nor plastic skin, nor the kind of stupidy shown in Photoshop disasters. Why? Because I don't like photographs that bare no resemblance to reality.

At the end of the day it's a judgement call for each photographer.
ronsbell said…
Paul — I think you said that very fairly and very well. I share your dislike for photographs that have been so enhanced or so altered that they are more accurately described as photo montages or photo impressions than representations of an original subject. But as photo software grows ever more powerful and as cameras become ever more prevalent, it seems as if the standard of what constitutes photography (and of what the photographic market desires) will become ever broader. As you wrote, to each his own.

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