Why Edit Your Photos?
Why edit your photos? Since the rise of digital photography, there has been this question, “Is photo editing cheating?”. Maybe it’s the word editing. People get uncomfortable when they hear that a photo was edited. It sounds like something needed to be fixed. If something needs to be fixed, then the photographer must not be very good. Do we assume that the book we are reading was edited by the publisher? Of course we do. It doesn’t make the author any less qualified. It merely means that we are receiving a polished copy of the author’s work. I believe that photography is the same. Photo editing allows for a well exposed image to be presented, polished and professional.
It’s All A Part of the Process
It has been argued that photo editing is the digital darkroom. As far as I am aware, no one claimed that a photographer was cheating when he was skilled in the darkroom. On the contrary, he was considered more of a master in the craft. That being said, I understand that there have been those that have given photo editing a bad name through less than quality work. But I’m asking you not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Why edit your photos? Photo editing is truly all a part of the process, especially when capturing your photos in RAW. A RAW file is similar to a negative in film, in that it contains all the data you will need to achieve a polished photograph. It takes know-how to turn a RAW (or even a JPEG) file into a photograph that is pleasing to look at. You must understand light and shadow and how they work together to create contrast. You must also have a good understanding of the tools in your photo editing software and how they work, so that you can utilize them properly and to their fullest potential. A professional photograph will look neither boring nor contrived.
The Camera Never Captures Reality
My husband is an artist, and he and I (as a photographer) like to observe the world around us. We often remark on the beauty of creation. One thing that we inevitably recognize, is that there has not been a camera created that can capture the range of color and light that the human eye can see. Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing cameras out there! But if you’re going to avoid photo editing based on the argument that you’re a purist and only want to capture what you see, please consider the following:
A camera is merely a tool to capture a scene, just as photo editing software is a tool. Both can be used to capture the reality before us.
A camera can’t expose for equal detail in light and shadow. When photographing a landscape with a sunset on the horizon, we (as photographers) need to make a choice. Are we going to expose for the brilliant sky in the background or are we going to expose for the shadowy foreground? Our naked eyes can see both, but a camera cannot expose for both. Yet by taking a photograph of both images and then blending them in our photo editing software, we can come closer to the image before our eyes.
A camera also can’t capture the color range that the eye can see. Depth is created by light and shadow but also by the varying warm and cool colors in the world around us. Adjusting your white balance appropriately for your surroundings is a great tool, but not everything in your scene will fall under the same white balance. Through proper photo editing, you can maintain those cool blues and greens in the shadows and the warm reds and oranges in light, adding depth and richness to your photographs.
Photography is Art
I would never argue that there are not varying styles of photo editing within the photographic community ranging from very light edits to very heavy ones. I would call myself a fine art photographer. I will often spend up to an hour or more processing one of my images. This style is not for everyone, nor is it appropriate for every occasion.
Photography by definition means writing with light. To capture light with your camera, you should have a proper understanding of the exposure triangle: how aperture relates to shutter speed, and how they both relate to ISO. This is the art of photography.
So why edit your photos? Photography could end with the exposure triangle. But I am arguing that the next step in the photographic art is editing. Yes, you will no longer be using the exposure triangle; but as discussed earlier, those working in the darkroom were no longer using the exposure triangle either.
How much or how little you edit your photos really depends on your style and genre of photography. I love the photo editing process myself and find it very therapeutic. I set out to create art when I sit down to the computer. I do try to make my photographs realistic and believable. That said, I occasionally branch out and add elements that were not originally in the photograph. The picture below is an example of this. It is not entirely realistic looking, but I find it artistic and pleasing.
Why edit your photos? After downloading your photographs off of your camera, editing is the next step to making a polished photograph. It may take a little education in your photo editing software, but it will be well worth the effort.
Sonya Adcock is a fine art photographer based in the beautiful state of Pennsylvania. She specializes in artistic child photography. Sonya’s artwork has been featured in Photography Monthly Magazine, Digital SLR Magazine, and Redbook Magazine. In the hectic pace of a digital era, her artwork encourages you to slow down and remember the joys and magic of childhood.
For the photographer, Sonya will be releasing photo editing tutorials, actions, and overlays. Please join our Mailing List to be notified of future release dates. Or you can subscribe to her weekly Blog for tips on photography and photo editing.
Sonya’s artwork is also available to purchase. Please Contact her to learn more.
If you are interested in family portraits for you or someone you love, be sure view our Investment Page. Sonya Adcock Photography offers high quality prints and products for display. Some of our products include gallery wrapped canvases, albums and framed prints, as well as other unique memorabilia. We also offers digital files for sale, so you can print your images as you like.
Your memories are timeless. Sonya Adcock Photography would be delighted to work with you. Book your family portrait photography session today!