October 2014

To Photoshop or not to Photoshop

The heading should actually read To Edit or Not to Edit, but the word Photoshop has become more a term synonymous with the editing procedure rather than the product by Adobe. As a photographer each of us are faced with editing decisions every day and each of us has developed a taste and style of editing. Here I am going to generalize a little for the purpose of simplicity and include all types of retouching done to original photos. Recently a number of articles have appeared which lambaste retouchers, photographers and magazines who edit photos to such an extreme that you would not recognize that person if you walked past them in the street.

What is my opinion on editing photos?

In my opinion editing is something which should be done subtly so that the end result still looks realistic and believable. When someone looks at one of my images I do not want them to immediately think…WOW, great Photoshop work, I want them to see the image and afterwards wonder if any editing had been done. Too many photographers, especially new photographers tend to overdo their work so that the first thing one sees is the editing and afterwards you notice the subject. I see so many people who smooth peoples faces to such an extent that they look like wax dolls, but this is unreal as no-one will ever look that way. Skin has a natural texture and it cannot be completely smooth. Below is a recently edited image (right) next to the unedited version straight from the camera (left). This shows the level of editing I like to use. The final image even still has some skin imperfections, but this is purposefully left as I believe in a concept I term “Perfect Imperfection” which is that little bit of reality I leave in a image to make it real.

Natasha Edit Sample

Does this make editing wrong?

No, editing is a fact of photography. Though some purists may argue that one should not edit photos at all, I feel it is a personal part of each photographer. Each one needs to decide how much they want to edit to suite their style. The editing method is personal and part of the artistic impression each photographer leaves on their work. Similarly I feel it is unfair to ask a photographer for unedited photos as they will always feel that the work was never completed. It is like walking into a restaurant and asking for uncooked food as you will just cook it at home…what is the point?