Let’s face it, Photoshop combined with digital capture have done wonders to move the art we love into the 21st century. Providing cleaner files than negs, instant review, less to carry around… a win, win, right?

Well, on certain fronts this is so. However in the realms of purist photography, the truth strays from this path. With the power that a solid processor and Photoshop can afford, the art of lighting (the true heart of photography) is being threatened.

Many times I have met with talented image producers, only to find that they were indeed master retouchers that took a mere snapshot and made it into a piece of art. Denying the credibility of their art is wrong in every since of the word, they are artists, and talented at that. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true, as denoting them as “talented photographers” is just as misleading as the latter. What we are seeing is a new branch of our medium being born, where the former “printmaster” assumes the role of creator.

I once sat by the pool with Fred Miranda, a friend and fellow photographer, and discussed this aspect of the industry, and we both had agreed in the power of retouching knowledge, but to this extent perhaps not.

This brings me to my stance on the issue, and this should also answer some of the emails I have received… By opinion, and also definition, photography is the ability to capture / manipulate light to the advantage of the creator (artist). In such terms, it is the ability to light the subject, set or both to lead a viewers eye to the surmised truth that lies in the mind of the photographer.

This is not saying that someone that possesses the talent to light a set is more or less talented than he who can make a lit scene from a snapshot. It says that the two fields are separate yet equal (my apologies to any that see this as a reference to indentured servitude).

It is my belief that a talented photographer working with a talented retoucher can create masterpieces. However, when one confuses their position, they will never be more than slightly above average.

In no way should this be taken that a photographer should not work on his or her own post production. Rarely have I ever outsourced any of my post. What it I am trying to encourage is this…

The end result is determined in its beginning perfection. If you want even better images, work on your post work before you press the shutter.