There’s always been a happy medium surrounding photographs. Taking a picture is easy and anybody can take a snap. Creating art, however, is a whole different ball game.
Historically, at least, there hasn’t been much doubt about that. The divide between amateur enthusiast and professional photographer has generally been clear in the end result.
In recent times, an influx of photography editing tools has made editing that much more accessible. Advanced software complete with an easy to use interface has seen the quality of many a ‘novice’ snapper’s photos looking incredible.
Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that; everyone deserves to be able to capture the perfect shot. The question is, do more studio tools mean photographers really don’t have to be as skilled?
The Starting Base
Before any editing can even begin, a blank canvas needs to be turned into a photograph. To quote Darren Rowse, “saying a camera takes nice pictures is like saying a guitar plays nice melodies.”
What this essentially means is that you can have all of the equipment under the sun but without an apt skillset, photographs will likely not be that great, even with the help of an expensive camera, a range of spotlights and an editing suite.
You could clean an old car, respray, refurbish and put fuel into it but will it run more effectively? Photographs work in a similar vein. A good starting point is a foundation and that comes with a well-crafted photo.
The respray, refurbish and fuel is your editing suite. The photograph is the engine. The end game is still reliant on a minimum level of quality from the engine or photograph. With this solid foundation, the result is likely going to be less impressive.
You need a camera to take a photograph and they are everywhere now. No longer confined to made-for-purpose devices, smartphones, tablets, computers and even pens and glasses, can all take snapshots.
Almost everybody knows about the sometimes drastic difference in photograph quality between device, or can at least hazard a guess. Granted, professional photographers are highly unlikely to attend a shoot with just a phone in hand but quality is still an issue.
Premier photograph editing suites tend to be designed to touch up shots rather than transform photos from throwaway snaps to beautiful art.
It comes back to the starting base point again. A superior camera doesn’t necessarily take a superior shot. An inferior camera doesn’t necessarily take an inferior shot. What camera can support, however, is a photographer’s vision.
Using light, different lenses and incorporating varying elements is essentially the bread and butter of a professional photographer. It is possible for the most skilled of photographers to achieve this without high-end equipment. It isn’t always possible for less skilled shutterbugs to accomplish magical shots even with an array of top of the range apparatus.
Editing photos will undoubtedly improve them but the results tend to be exponentially better when the camera and photographer has produced a better quality to begin with.
A Grasp on Software and the Wider Picture
Software used for editing photographs tends to be pretty powerful. There is usually a wide range of tools and edits to choose from. Being blinded by a favorite can quite often lead to sub-par photographs.
Take the black and white headshot for example. There is somewhat of a trend for corporate head shots to make use of monochrome to achieve a finished and professional look.
This can be overdone, though. In fact, sometimes it simply isn’t needed. Black and white images can place focus on the subject using beautifully subtle tones, especially where bright colours are impeding or distracting.
However, some photographs are better suited to make use of full color. Especially where color highlights important features that can be lost in mono, editing can enhance and better vivid tones, as well as take them away.
A decent professional photographer realizes the most suitable use by picture and will usually have a varied mix in their portfolio, like this.
Vision and craft is something that no amount of editing, filtering and touch ups can teach.
Photography is Still King
Whilst there can be no denying that editing suites have meant that the gap between blatant amateur snaps and those taken by a professional photographer has narrowed, there is still a clear difference.
There is quite a strong case to be made for the argument of whether studio tools mean photographers don’t need to be as skilled as they perhaps once did. There is an element of truth behind the theory. After all, a touch up here and a filter there is often enough to improve a photograph, even if it isn’t to the highest possible standard.
The ultimate truth is that although a lesser skillset is maybe required, the more skilled photographers out there make use of every aspect of their shoots. Rather than settling for arguably sub standard shots and using the miracle of editing to enhance them, they have other ideas.
Foresight, guile and an ability to see the bigger picture are imperative. Expertise in combining equipment, skill and editing into one package rather than separate entities lends itself to capturing and creating the perfect photographs.
Ultimately studio tools are there to help photographers, not hinder them. There is still no substitute for taking great images before editing.