Photography tips – are you a purist?

I was speaking to another photographer this week and asked him what editing program he used.  He said he used Elements, but he didn’t do much to his photos.  He didn’t really know how to use the program that much.  He said he was a photo snob and rather liked the straight out of the camera images.  He wanted to get it “right” and then not mess with them.  He’s more of a purist.

Me, not so much.

On a forum I frequent, another lady, whose work I admire, said that she was “bored with reality”.  I have no doubt she gets it “right” SOOC every time.  The art she creates in PS is simply stunning.

So, are you a purist…or do you think editing your pictures is part of the art you are creating?  I think you know where I stand.  I edit pretty much every image…whether it needs it or not!  I like the extra punch that editing creates in my images.  Getting it as “right” as possible definitely cuts down on the time I spend editing.  Whereas  previously I was editing to “fix” my photos, now I spend time just making them better or suit the mood I want to create with them.  I think PS should be seen as a vital tool in your photographer’s toolbox, not as a crutch.  That being said, I used it as a crutch to hide imperfections when I was first learning how to use my camera.  It was just a step in that learning process.

I think I have spoken, ad nauseum, on how much I *heart* Photoshop.  When I first started editing pictures, I used Picassa.  I graduated from that and got lost in Elements.  Once I reached the limits for that program, I got Photoshop CS3.  CS3 is pretty spendy, so if you are able to get an educational discount on it…get it.  There is so much this program can do, and I know I have just tested the edges of it.  Just be aware, there is a pretty steep learning curve, so buy a good Photoshop book to go with the program.

I’ll show you a few images SOOC and the edits I made.

photoshop 1

Photoshop 2


SOOC – no edits – this is from my old cheapie 35mm P&S film camera.  I didn’t have Photoshop when I took this photo when Kai was 6 months old, but really you just can’t improve on spikey-haired-baby perfection.


So…obviously, you don’t always need Photoshop, but it does help!

See you on Thursday!

22 Replies to “Photography tips – are you a purist?”

  1. That photo of Kai at 6 months old is amazing ! That hair … so adorable !!

    Also … loved the link to that lady’s art !! AMAZING ! I’ve bookmarked it and will be going back !!

  2. I would love to learn to use Photoshop more. I edit only a little not because I’m a purist but because I don’t know what I’m doing. I have a Scott kelby Photoshop Elements book, but I really only use it as a recipe for what I want to do; I follow step by step and I dont really learn how to do things on my own.

  3. Okay, that last pic of wee Kai…it’s just lol ADORABLE!!

    You’re so right, that spiky-haired baby perfection is unbeatable, hands down!

    Thanks for showing us your before n after shots–such a fantastic way to learn, by seeing!


  4. I will admit I don’t edit much. I try to get it right the first time so I don’t have to mess with it. I do minor editing in iPhoto.

    I agree, though, that editing can be just as much a part of the process as taking the picture. It all depends on what your style is and what your goals are.

    My favorite photos tend to be more of the ones that look like they were taken straight out of the camera (albeit very good photos taken right the first time). So that’s where I tend to challenge myself.

    I do wish I was better at editing photos, though. Especially in terms of adjusting the color and such (like the levels and curves I’ve heard and seen everyone messing with in Photoshop).

    But I think if you have the gift of editing in Photoshop (as you seem to), by all means, have fun. There is great stuff you can do with Photoshop, and I think it is a tool just like your camera is a tool. Edit to your heart’s content.

  5. great topic! when i clicked on the link to the other woman’s photos, i realized she used to be active on a flickr group i frequent & you are right, her photos are amazing. she shoots exclusively in RAW & she did post some SOOC images and detailed the process she went through to get the final image. the difference between the two was quite striking in terms of the effect on the viewer (and frankly, made me feel better about what i was getting out of my camera :).

    this will be an interesting theme for the week!

    btw: i am always impressed with your editing skills!

  6. I do like to play in photoshop. And I love the look of your photos and the photos in your link. And since you go in ILP, I know you’ll know the name Andrea Joki–I love her stuff, too. I like sometimes to add text or borders or texture.

    But my own personal style is more realistic, esp. for photos I “publish” on my blog or on Flickr. I use photoshop mainly to make the photo I see on the screen match the photo I remember seeing through the viewfinder. I’ll bump saturation or contrast, or perhaps lighten the foreground or brighten the sky. But generally I like my stuff (esp. the landscape work) to look natural, perhaps just a tiny bit dramatic.

    When I first got photoshop I went a little nuts. I look at some of my stuff from then and cringe. I think I’m getting the hang of it now, though…

  7. I heart Photoshop myself and LightRoom. I like being able to play around a bit with photos that might already be great, but it adds a little ompf to them.

    That last photo is awesome! I wish Zane’s hair would do that!

  8. I took a college photography class about 16 years ago – before I even owned a computer. My favorite part of the class was messing around in the dark room. I really wanted to be a photographer, but as a hobby, it was too costly and impractical to have my own darkroom! I’ve just really started to have fun with my camera and learn the digital possibilities. I see digital photo editing as an affordable dark room! I don’t do a lot of editing yet because I’m still learning, but it is fun!

  9. I heart photoshop! I am no where near talented enough to not play around with the originals!

    Great topic and great fuzzy hair photo!

  10. I am purist at this point, but only because i don’t have Photoshop! Part of the problem is that i don’t want to spend more time on the computer! For now, I have so much to learn about the camera, that i choose to stick with that!

  11. I have to agree I dont edit much, I have Paint Shop Pro 7 – it’s old but all I do with it really is crop, and resize…I dont know how to do alot with it.

    I just learned how to “color” in parts of it, and have the other parts black and white. Which is cool but other than that. 🙂

    Anyway, I LOVE your color…and I love your edits….

  12. I love my Photoshop Elements, I would love to upgrade to CS3 (and since I do the layout for a monthly newsletter, I’m still trying to talk the organization I work for to purchase it – they can get it at the non-profit rate.)

    I also want to upgrade to a DSLR this summer, if possible. We’ll see. I so want to do some photographing in RAW format.

    As for being a purist, well, if I were a) talented enough to get the correct shot and b) am lucky enough to get the correct shot out of the camera then I don’t play with it. But I’m not always lucky or talented. So I tweek. I find that I can make pictures that came out poorly colored and blurry into something I like.

    On the other hand, Photoshop is like an extension of the paint brush, or other media used to create and/or expand on an image, so I enjoy using it as such. I love creating with it.

    I feel that it’s also the digital equivalent to the traditional darkroom (including Adobe LightRoom) Photographers have played with their images in the darkroom for years now we get to cross-process, convert to black & white, create lomo effects, etc. at our own computers!

    Anyway, it’s late and I have rambled on. I missed this week’s theme – glow. Hopefully I won’t miss next week! (I do have some texture images I did… hmm.)

  13. You have a never-ending stream of good theme ideas!

    I edit everything. Almost every single photo spends at least a little time in PS (Elements). When I first started with photography, I did feel that it’s cheating a little – but not anymore. It’s part of the process, it’s artistic, it helps to make a beautiful photo that must more beautiful. Now that being said, at this point I am still “fixing” my photos as well as enhancing them…but even once I’ve mastered proper exposure, I will still play in Photoshop.

    Especially now that I’ve discovered the fun of textures!

  14. I adore that picture of Kai – what a great shot.
    Every photo I publish goes through Photoshop first, so I’m definitely not a purist.

    p.s. I left you an excellent award on my blog…

  15. Great topic Stacy. I never used to improve my photos but now I find it too delicious not to! It’s amazing to see images come to llife even more when I edit. In my eyes, I now just consider it part of the process. And even though it can be a boat load of work (like when you shoot a wedding-AH!) it’s so much fun!

    And with textures? Don’t get me started! I came from a printmaking background in college (not one of photography) so using textures takes me back to those good old days. I love using textures and although I am a novice, I see my work heading in a whole new direction. What fun!

    Great topic! Did I say that already?

  16. Well I am definitely in the edit to fix imperfections category so the Theme ‘Pure’ is a challenging one. Enjoyed looking at your sooc vs edited images. sooc looked pretty good to me though 🙂 See you on Thursday!!

  17. I am not a purist by any means – as I learn to make better use of mynew camera, I use editing a little less maybe, but nearly every pic can use a little help ya know?

  18. I just stumbled across your site and I simply say “thank you”…I have been looking and looking for a normal person to explain some photography things to me and your site has done just that…which leads me to my comment left here…I am only a purist because I can’t figure anything else out :o)

    love it here…I’ll be back :o)

    ~simply stork~

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