Polaroid or Photoshop?

This is all too often the question and it really shouldn’t be.

Old school photographers are extremely committed to getting the image right “in the camera.”  Younger photographers, often 4-5 decades newer to the profession are more interested in what they can do to the image after the fact in Photoshop.

Many arguments take place over this issue.  Old school photographers claim that “photoshopped” images aren't real images.  New school photographers tell them to accept the new technology, it can’t be stopped.  Who is right?

There is a time and place for both.

News journalism absolutely must not be “doctored” out of the camera.  The journalist's reputation and the reputation of the agency he/she works for is at stake.  Remember everyone poking fun at North Korea for “enhancing their missile program” with Photoshop?  They added in twice as many (or more) missiles to show their military prowess.  What about the extra smoke near a plane crash in New York?  The list of discredited journalists is longer than it should be.

What about portrait photography?  Time Magazine recently changed the color of Obama’s swim trucks and the color of his skin!  How many celebrities have their images enhanced before publication?  It’s a lot more common than you’d think at first, but when someone gets “exposed” being enhanced it’s often publically humiliating.  I personally have gone into great detail on portrait subjects to smooth skin, apply makeup, change skin tones, or any other enhancement services they requested and paid for.

Landscapes?  Every landscape photographer has felt the pain of showing up at the right place at the right time, only to be greeted by terrible skies or some other flaw they can easily fix in Photoshop.  Should they keep appearing day in and day out to get the nice looking clouds they’re after, or should they just add them in Photoshop?  Landscape photography can be controversial.  Landscape photographers run the gamut from purists to Photoshop artists.  It’s hard to call this one.

Only this is for certain.  The better you can capture the image “in-camera”, the better your chances for standalone success, or success in Photoshop.  You should ALWAYS endeavor to make the most perfect image possible “in-camera.”  It really pains me to hear from the lips of fellow photographers “that’s okay, I can skip that step and fix it in Photoshop.”  Or something to that effect.

The more effort you spend being in the right place at the right time, the more effort setting up, the more skill developed, the better the resulting image will be.  The better the resulting image, the better the results will be any way you choose to use that capture.

Let’s build good habits folks.  Laziness has never been a key component of photography.

Until next week..