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Photoshop Alone Does Not Make a Good Photographer

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Thought of the Day: Photoshop Alone Does Not Make a Good Photographer

I consider myself a professional when it comes to Photoshop.  I teach Photoshop and develop products that work inside Photoshop.  And yes, occasionally I use Photoshop to fix a problem on a less that perfect photo. Photoshop is a powerful tool for photographers.  But your camera paired with experience are way more important in getting the best results.

By learning to use your camera and your surroundings to their fullest, you can control light, get great composition and have better color in your photos. This is the #1 best way to spend less time in post-processing.  If you find you spend 30 minutes, instead of 3, editing each image, you probably need to figure out why.  It could be lack of Photoshop knowledge, in which case an online Photoshop training class might be in order.  But if you see your exposure is off, colors look bad, objects are growing out of people’s heads, backgrounds are cluttered, etc – you may want to revisit your camera and work on your skills in that department. And even if you feel you have mastered your skills, it cannot hurt to get back to basics every once in a while.

Answer these questions of yourself:

Using just your camera, or other equipment, not in post processing, can you:

  • Get subjects to pop and backgrounds to fall out of focus?
  • Identify what times of day to shoot and where to find better light?
  • Achieve exciting compositions?
  • Getting your subject(s) in flattering poses?
  • Avoid distracting backgrounds, clutter, and objects that may hit the subject(s) in an odd way?

Sometimes, in an attempt not to rely on Photoshop and other post-processing tools so much, I recommend photographers go out and shooting just for the practice getting the shot and experience.  Take your camera outside without any expectations of coming home and having any use-able photos.  Just practice.  Work on nailing exposure.  Work on setting a custom white balance. Work solely one day on getting better compositions. Work on your creativity.  This is also a great exercise for getting out of a rut!

All the photography forums, photo related books, and photography and Photoshop training in the world will not make you a better photographer if you do not get out and take pictures, make mistakes and then learn from those mistakes so you are more experienced the next time.

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  1. Karen O'Donnell on September 1, 2010 at 9:09 am

    I love this post. I don’t usually edit my photos for more than a few minutes….little adjustments like sharpening or using the healing brush tool for small blemishes….I only use actions to enhance an already good photo and I rarely go overboard with them either….but sometimes I feel like I’m doing less than I should because everyone has these hazy, vintage, dreamlike feelings to their images. This makes me feel better! Thanks!

  2. Julie Martin on September 1, 2010 at 10:09 am

    I love this!!!!! As a startup photog, my main goal is to get everything as perfect in-camera as I can. I would much rather use photoshop to “play” with images and fun treatments than to fix a bad photo. 🙂

  3. Judy on September 1, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Okay, just a question I’ve been wondering about. When you are shooting RAW does it matter what WB you use? When I open my files in LR I see what the file looked like on my LCD for a couple of seconds, then it switches to the RAW version, i.e. a bit washed out and flat. Great article as usual!

  4. Greg on September 1, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Judy, as a matter of practice you should always set your white balance to the proper settings for the shot, even if you’re shooting in RAW.

  5. Yolanda on September 1, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    @JudyYou’re right, you can set the White Balance in post-processing using Lightroom’s pre-set modes or the eye dropper tool. However, this adds an additional step to your post-processing. It simply takes less time to change the mode while shooting. I have also found that when using LR’s preset modes for Shade, Daylight, etc. the temperatures are different from what my camera uses, and I prefer my camera’s interpretation. But to be most exact, you could shoot a grey card, use the eyedropper tool in LR to set the white balance, and then sync all of the photos to that grey card.

  6. clipping path on September 2, 2010 at 12:57 am

    I think so :)nice article.

  7. Susan Reynolds on September 3, 2010 at 5:17 am

    Wonderful article! Definitely will share with my photography group 🙂

  8. Image Clipping Path on November 1, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    This is a work of excellence. Brilliant! want more post like this. Thanks.

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