One of the most common questions any photographer gets asked is, “Can you Photoshop that?” People are so concerned about their outward appearance and photoshop seems to be a savior. Hey, I’m no different. I look in the mirror and see all the imperfections. Do I photoshop myself? Yes, just like everyone else, I want to look my best so I will slap on the digital war paint – but there is a limit, and there should be. I think in this age of high def computer wizardry we are all tempted to take things a little, or a lot, too far. As a wedding photographer, I hear the Photoshop request a lot. But here’s the thing – if we photoshopped every single image, costs would be astronomical. And really, in 99.9% of cases, the person asking is very good looking in their own right and they don’t need it. Take out a blemish or two? Sure. Make your nose smaller? Not a chance. And besides, we photographers do tend to be pretty good at what we do. We know the best light and the best angels to shoot a person in to make them look like, well, their very best selves. Of course Photoshop is a necessary tool and when used appropriately, it enhances a story – not just a face.
Let’s take a look at an image from the lovely and talented Abigail Seymour. I was helping her out on Angie and Selassie‘s wedding a few weeks ago – she was in the back of the crowd shooting and I was up front. The skies opened and the rain was set to wash out a beautiful backyard wedding when our indomitable bride decided to make a mad dash for the house and have a living room ceremony. Charming in every way, right? Almost. Abigail snapped this wonderful shot of Angie’s run but there I am in the background just killing the shot.
What to do? What to do? Abigail asked me if I could kindly remove myself from the shot. Now here’s the thing. Photoshop, for all its power and magic, takes a skilled hand and time. I am very good at this, (I’ve been doing it for almost 10 years) and do a lot of post-processing and editing for lots of photographers and it still took me nearly 20 minutes (tons of angles, nooks and crannies that had to be removed and recreated). So there’s the rub. Photoshop takes a long time and its expensive but there are definitely times when it is for the good. Without me in the shot, we have a beautiful and resilient bride making a dash through the rain. That is the real story of the day told as it ought to have been.