It seems odd in the digital age of photography that there is a debate going on about whether or not using Photoshop is “cheating” when creating a final image for a client. There are people who adamant that everything should be perfect straight out of camera (SOOC) and that if you didn’t nail all the technical aspects that you are salvaging a bad photograph by using Photoshop. Then there are people who use Photoshop who maintain that Photoshop is their digital darkroom and that they are creating their art by using the components of Photoshop.
People have debated as to whether or not even Ansel Adams would be using Photoshop if he were alive and working today. I think Ansel was a pioneer in the field of photography and I really believe that if he were here today he would love that he could take his images and process them without having to carry hundred of pounds of gear in order to do so. In his darkroom he did dodging and burning to create his final product. He knew how to process his images and create a print that reflected his art and his vision.
I am a huge fan of Photoshop, not only for editing, but for creating art, cards, templates, digital papers, and textures. I use Photoshop every single day whether I am editing photos or not. I am always creating something. I create a lot of different things using the features in Photoshop. But when I sit down to edit, I exclusively use Photoshop CS5 (and I have no plans to upgrade or change. I am quite happy with CS5!). I have Lightroom, but I don’t really like using it even though I hear wonderful things about it. As far as professional photography goes, most photographers are either using Lightroom or a version of Photoshop (CS, CS2-CS6 or Photoshop Elements) for their final products. (It is rare to see working photographers using other products, but I know that there are more out there.)
I have found that even when I nail every technical aspect of an image I still want to tweak something. There is usually something about the image that I want to change and sometimes it can be as simple as a hair out of place or removing an object that I had no control over being in the background. I like my images to be focused on the people I am photographing, not having the focus drawn to the car in the background or the person who walked into the shot.
There are people who even give their SOOC images with the purchase of edited ones. That is something that I personally think should not be done. You want your images to reflect your business and what your final product. If a client should post an unedited image on social media or print it and have it in their home, that is representing your business. That very thing recently happened to a “rockstar” photographer and people on both sides of the fence were arguing back and forth about whether or not unedited images should be a part of any photographer’s business model.
If you are one of the photographers who don’t like the idea of using Photoshop, that is fine. You don’t have to use it, but you should be respectful of the photographers who choose to use it. I have seen posts on forums where photographers have been attacked and called all kinds of names for using Photoshop because some other photographer feels that they have been cheating. And if you are a photographer who uses Photoshop, you should be respectful of the photographer who chooses to not use it. You don’t have to agree on how to achieve the final product, but you should be respectful of the artist behind the work. We all make our own choices for our business and for what best suits what our needs and our clients needs are.
I like the extra little “something” that tweaking my images in Photoshop allows me to do. My clients like it too. So, whether or not you use Photoshop or Elements or Lightroom or nothing, what matters is that you are out there creating your art and hopefully enjoying the journey that it is taking you on.
And now, I am going to share a before and after that I did. Everything was pretty much wonderful to me SOOC, but things I can’t control in the image like where the railing was on the old bandstand and where the city had placed a light pole distracted from my focal point in the image. Using the content aware and the clone tool, those things were removed. After that just a few more simple tweaks and I have an image that I love, my client loves and one that I can see as a huge print hanging in their home!