Post in the Past?

I’m not against post-production. Certainly not, in fact I view it as an essential part of being professional about your photography. I still refuse to send off images without making necessary corrections just as long years ago I would have spent time in the darkroom carefully printing my images before delivering them to the library.

There are those who view professionalism as simply being about making money from your work, and it does slightly pain me to know – and to be often told by agencies – that I would make more if I sent my images in immediately, preferably within minutes or even seconds of taking them, and without what I consider to be essential care. Fortunately I can now afford to be more worried about my reputation than my income.

But I do have to agree with most of what Grant Scott writes on ‘The United Nations of Photography’ in his post ‘OPINION: Post-Production Should Be In The Past‘. In particular when he states “I have no issue with post production as a process but I do when that process leads, dictates and dominates the process of photography“, a mistake he sees in too many portrait photographers, who use Photoshop to impose their style rather than creating “an honest and truthful representation of the person being photographed“.

I take a lot of pictures of people, but have never thought of myself as a portrait photographer, perhaps mainly because I’ve never enjoyed employing the kind of artifice that many rely on. Though I can admire it in the work of others, in particular in the work of fine photographers such as Bill Brandt, Brian Griffin and many more, I’ve never wanted to work in that way. I prefer to simply watch people and to think about how I can use the elements of the situation they are in and their expressions to give what seems to me a true and accurate reflection.

But the raw file the camera saves isn’t yet a picture. It needs interpretation, some of which is provided by various computer algorithms (and rather more if you take jpegs.) My aim is always to produce a final image that I can look at and say ‘that’s how I saw it’ rather than make a striking picture. And it can take quite a lot of ‘post’ particularly on occasions when the camera has introduced its own peculiar view full of flare but otherwise treating everything in the frame with an equality that doesn’t match my vision.

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