Every so often someone pops the question:
How much of that is Photoshop?
Some ask it more discreetly than others but it is a common question even when I do corporate photo shoots. Another popular one is, can you make me look good with Photoshop and while the answer to that one can be tricky the answer to the original question isn’t.
It isn’t much of an answer either.
You see, the problem is that each image is unique and while 90% of my images go through Photoshop at one stage or another of their post processing the techniques applied to each image vary so much that is impossible to tell in a general way how much of my images is processing.
Back in the film days, you’d get into the darkroom and push process, dodge and burn, etc and these were regarded as skills (and they were). In the digital era somehow, that was lost and dodging and burning a digital file now is seen a distortion of the truth. This makes us react sometimes a little to the question above as if people are cheapening our craft but I don’t see it that way.
Most of the times the question comes from someone that doesn’t know much about photography, they perhaps have a digital camera and are trying to in their head justify why their pictures don’t look as good as yours and therefore the reason must be Photoshop.
More than likely, it isn’t. There is a lot that goes into creating a good photograph. A bad photograph, no matter how much time you spend in Photoshop, it’ll never be a great image. You might improve it but it will never be a great photograph. On the other hand a great photograph is already a great photograph out of camera and will need nothing but minor adjustments to make it better.
Note on both examples from this shoot at a seminar I’ve done for the Greystones camera club the level of post processing is completely different from one image to the next. One is almost as it was from camera with minor retouching and other has quite significant changes to elements in both the background and foreground as well as more noticeable retouching of the model.
The closer the portrait is the more important it is to retouch skin and blemishes as these become more noticeable. This sometimes can be quite an extensive job and very time consuming.
So, have I answered your question? No, I didn’t think so either.