Hey everybody, Matt Kloskowski here. First off, a big thanks to Scott for letting me write about this, as I’ve been wanting to for a while now. So here’s the question: “Is Photoshop a bad word?”

Personally, for photographers, I think it’s 100% necessary if you want to compete today. Technology has changed everything. The world knows that Photoshop exists. The standards by which photography was judged, even just 10 years ago, don’t hold up against today’s standards. We expect more from a photo.

It All Starts with A Good Photo
Of course you expect a guy that makes a living teaching Photoshop to say this right? Before I get too far into it, let me set the record straight. As a professional photographer, I realize it all starts with a good photo right out of the camera. Like many of you, we spend way too much money on tripods, lenses, lighting, camera bodies, etc… to just accept any photo out of the camera and say “I’ll fix it in Photoshop”. Lighting on a person, for example, is impossible (or really difficult) to fix later. Same holds true for landscape and outdoor photography. You can’t reproduce the light you get from sunrise or sunset. Photoshop can’t make a blurry photo sharp. I totally get it. That said, I think there is a time to fix it in Photoshop (yes, I said “fix it”. Not just to finish, but fixing is perfectly acceptable too).

When to “Fix” It?
I once watched a photographer doing a live demonstration where his photos were showing up on screen as he took them. Well, part of the light was hitting the area behind the subjects and the photographer proceeded to spend the next 10 minutes working through the issues that this brought up. He was very quick to say, “Sure, you could fix this in Photoshop but I prefer to get it right in camera”. Being a Photoshop guy, it wasn’t really the statement that got to me, but it was the way it was said. The tone of that (and several other things he said) led the audience to believe that Photoshop was something you should be ashamed of. It was almost as if Photoshop was a bad word.

If you’re on a shoot, you’ve got your time, your client’s time, your assistant’s time, rental fees and many other factors that favor you moving quickly. As a photographer, you should know that this was a 20 second fix with a brush in Photoshop vs. the collective 40 minutes he wasted (photographer, assistant, and two models). And if you don’t know how to fix it, I think your job is to hire some one who does.

A Quote
I was watching a video from Jeremy Cowart and he said something that really stuck with me.

“Photoshop has changed the game, and every once in a while, Photoshop is the game”.

I think he nailed it. Photoshop has changed the game. Everyone you photograph knows Photoshop exists and expects you to retouch the photos. Every client you shoot for knows Photoshop exists and expects you to retouch the photos. Even your friends (if you’re a hobbyist photographer) know about Photoshop. If your photos aren’t seeing Photoshop (by you or your retoucher) then I’d have to venture to say you’re not getting noticed today. And take Jeremy’s work for example. Some of what helped build his career would be nearly impossible without Photoshop. It allows us to take a budget consisting of one person standing on white seamless and produce a movie poster that looks like it was shot on a mountain top with smoke machines, a race car, and the most dramatic sky ever seen.

Why?
So where does this dislike of Photoshop come from? Personally, I think it comes from not knowing Photoshop. Scott and I talk about this a lot after workshops and seminars. You can pretty much guarantee that when we hear some one criticizing Photoshop, it doesn’t take too long to realize that they don’t know it. Yep, 100% of the time when I ask the person that just said “I don’t like Photoshop” if they know how to use it, they say no. But here’s the thing and the key point I’d like to get across: if you’re a photographer, now it’s your job to know it. You’ve either got to learn it yourself or, if you lack the time/interest and have the budget, then find some one who is good at it to work on your photos for you.

And trust me. Those people are out there. They’re photographers who grew up with a digital camera and computer and have never known anything else. And they’re GOOD! They’re fast, they’re hungry and motivated and they’ll never know “what it was like back the film days” so trying to tell them is like trying to get toothpaste back in the tube. I can vouch for this. I’m 37, so I grew up with film. I didn’t touch my first digital camera until 8 years ago and I know my eyes glaze over every time I hear a “before your time, back in the film days” story :)

The Pros Know This
Whether you realize it or not, the pros already know this. In fact, they’ve known it all along. Even back in the film days there were a whole slew of things that were happening to photos before we saw them. The difference is that back then, those tools (and the time it takes to use them) weren’t easily available to the world so we never really heard about it. Today though, we have Photoshop, Lightroom, and even Photoshop Elements (and lots of books to learn how to use them ;-) ). So for as little as $59, anyone can use these techniques that simply weren’t available just 10-15 years ago. And whether you know it or not, just about every photographer (a general exception would be editorial photographers) you follow is either really good at Photoshop or has a retoucher/assistant that is. Photoshop is indeed being used, whether the photographer talks about it or not.

One More Thing
One last thing. Don’t be ashamed of using Photoshop. If you know it (or you’ve got a good retoucher), then you’ve got one helluva a competitive advantage out there today. A great image is a great image, and it loses nothing if we learn that Photoshop was a big part of it. And remember, anyone that does give you a hard time about it probably isn’t that good at Photoshop. So don’t justify or make excuses when showing your work. If some one asks if Photoshop was used, you simply say, “Of course!”.

So, my question to you still stands: is Photoshop a bad word? Do you long for the days when Photoshop wasn’t around? Or does Photoshop actually make the photography process better for you? If you’re like me, sometimes I love the artistic post-process just as much as taking the photo in the first place. Feel free to chime in with a comment and most of all, thanks for reading. See ya!

– Matt K.

About The Author

168 Comments

  1. What’s this?……Musical blogs today? :D Is RC doing the Lightroom Killer Tips blog today? j/k!

    Interesting post today, Matt. I think you hit the nail on the head when you wrote that people’s dislike for Photoshop comes from their not knowing it. They think it’s some sort of mystical program that can do magic to photos (“hey, I can put this guy’s head on that guy’s body!”). But like any computer program, once you sit down and spend some time to learn it, the mystery disappears and you realize what Photoshop really is…just another tool at the photographer’s disposal.

    I shot film a long time ago (in high school), but I always sent my photos out for developing. I never learned any darkroom stuff, as I did not have the money or the resources to acquire the materials. I dropped photography until six years ago when I got my first digital SLR, but I had a friend touch up and edit my photos for me, because I was intimidated by Photoshop! After awhile (and a couple of his retouching bills), I decided to learn about this mystical program, and I think it has helped me become a better photographer; certainly a more creative one.

    Of course it’s important to “get it right” in camera, but Photoshop gives you the tools to make that black and white photo look terrific, fix that bad complexion, or correct that crooked horizon, along with a myriad of other effects. As you said, most of these things could be done in a darkroom, but Photoshop (along with LR3 and PSE) have made these tools available to everyone with a computer. Nothing wrong with that.

    Is Photoshop a bad word? Not in my book. I enjoy sitting down at my computer, and reviewing and editing shots from a photo shoot, knowing I have the ability to do whatever I want to my photos.

    Now, where did I leave my copy of “Layers by Matt Kloskowski”?………. :D

    –John

  2. Photoshop means bugger all to me and my business. Sure we use it everyday, but we also use a mop and bucket to clean the studio floors each day and we sure as hell don’t spend half our lives worrying about what mop is the best.
    We’re in an imaging industry, who really cares how we achieve the end result as long as our targeted audience, Get It, when they view our work. It doesn’t matter whether that audience is a parent wanting a picture of young Billy to hang on their wall or millions of potential clients for some fashion line.
    Let’s get over it,folks, call a tool a tool and get on with making pictures.

    Have a great day all…..

  3. I think the issue is that when people hear the word Photoshop they automatically associate it with the weird and funky alterations they may have seen once or twice on TV or in a movie. There has to be a clear distinction between Photoshop for photographers and Photoshop for designers and graphic artists.
    Photographers take a photo and use Photoshop to enhance it and make it more beautiful not to alter the original photo. I took some pics of my co-workers and something was in the frame that didn’t belong there. One of them made a comment in passing “oh just take that out with Photoshop”. Yes, that comment did bother me as a photographer I don’t want the general public to think that Photoshop is a be all end all magical tool that can fix anything. Kind of like when people say “that camera takes nice pictures, I need to get a camera like that how much do they go for”. Makes me want to slap them! But I digress. To get back to the topic at hand and to summarize my point, yes Photoshop is a bad word; but only to the “layman”. I hate laymen!

  4. I’m 10 years older than Matt (just to set the scene) and came from a black & white darkroom scenario 3 years ago when I switched to all digital. A steep initial learning curve, beginning with capture NX, then Lightroom with Photoshop, which was made much easier when I discovered the blogs of Matt K, Julieanne Kost and Bert Monroy (thanks people!). After watching hours and hours of podcasts/tutorials and photoshopping til my fingers bled, I can now get much closer to the idea that was in my head when I first took the shot, which I never really felt I did in the darkroom.

    In fact, I now always shoot with a final idea in mind rather than just clicking away hoping to ‘get something good’ – and that, I believe, is what Photoshop gives me personally and makes me a better photographer than I was. I’m not saying Photoshop is better than the darkroom, just that in my scenario I feel like a hurdle has been removed between my vision and manifesting that vision.

    So I vote ‘photoshop good’.

  5. I struggle with this… I think that it is ok to use Photoshop, sure, but what upsets me about it is that for me photography is about capturing reality. What is the point of changing your photo to look like something that didn’t really exist? I have seen many scenery photos that look amazing and I so want to go see that place myself. Then I have gone there and what a disappointment… most of the beauty was just created on the computer.
    When reading photography blogs, I see the most amazing photos and sometimes I feel awkward leaving feedback, because I don’t quite know whether to leave the feedback on taking a nice photo or being so good at using Photoshop.

    and yes, I know how to use Photoshop *LOL* :)

    • “about capturing reality”

      Well, yes and no. It’s putting a frame around some of it – and once one admits that selectivity, that makes an upper bound on the degree of realism any photo can contain.

      No landscape will ever look the same to two people even at the same time, much less at different times. If you like someone’s photo at a given place, unless it was obviously manipulated, I’d suggest you go back at a better time / in better weather and appreciate the effort they’ve put in to get something from it.

    • Photographs aren’t reality. We use blur to insinuate motion, but that’s not what we really see. When does a waterfall in a photo ever look like a real one? Either you’ve frozen the drops in time or you’ve made them look like cotton candy. I enjoy a good black & white photo, but reality has color.

      Those scenic photos you mentioned were carefully crafted by composition, selection of focal length and other factors in camera long before they saw the computer.

      The thing you seem to be complaining about is an artist’s interpretation of a scene.

      • Bingo! Even photojournalists “creatively interpret” reality to show what they want to show, not a truly *OBJECTIVE* rendition of reality.

        Ever since Quantum Mechanics became the most accurate/successful theory of ‘reality,’ most people’s notion of ‘reality’ (based upon Newtonian physics) is flawed at best anyhow. Google “Is the moon there when nobody looks? Reality and the quantum theory” – a VERY interesting article indeed…

    • It is not reality at all. Never has been, never will be.

  6. Like any tool, if you abuse it with overuse, your work will suffer. Strive to take good photos and use Photoshop to help make it better. It’s like having an assistant on the shoot. He can help, but it’s still up to you to take pictures. If you have lousy composition and hope his lighting techniques will save you, that just shows a wrong mentality.

    I use Photoshop all the time to improve my photos, but personally I hate myself when I have to make too many corrections. It just shows I really stunk it up during the real take.

  7. Matt, I liked a lot this very interesting article.

    I made the same expierience, the people who hate photoshop don’t know it.

    It is a tool, like a hammer. You use a hammer not your fist to drive a nail into the wall.

    Nobody asks: Is it bad to use a hammer?

  8. Matt,
    Great post, but I must correct you: Photoshop is not needed 100% of the time, only maybe in the fashion/advertising world, but when it come to art, it’s really not in the retouching that the magic happens. Of course I’m no pro photographer, just an enthusiast amateur with a passion for art (not the commercial work, which is to industrialized to my taste).
    That been said, you are correct, the time in the digital darkroom should be minimum, for the real fun lies the capture !
    Greg.

  9. Matt you’re rocks! It’s like a boxing and UFC :) All clients out there expected final product to be outstanding, fresh an creative. So when in this high competitive industry somebody telling me he hates Photoshop I’m always smile. I will kick, punch, choke and all of this technique to win. And all of this with respect and fair play to other people. But please don’t tell me I can only tease you. ;)

  10. I think you’re comments are absolutely right for pros. What annoys me is that many photography competitions ban it’s use for just about anything. However pulling tricks with the camera for the same effect is somehow allowed, (ND grads, polarizers, changing the white balance etc). I think the pro world has accepted that photoshop is part of photography. I think the amateur world is somewhat behind and looks down on photoshop and doesn’t consider it part of photography.

  11. Great post! I think it’s something that i see or hear almost every day.
    Hopefully we are seeing some sort of progress, even if it’s slowly i think that things are changing for the better.

  12. Indispensable! Couldn’t do my job well without it. Yes I love it when I nail everything in camera but as you point out there are small things that don’t warrant extending the shoot to fix. My clients expect it and it never crosses their mind when the are happy with the final product!

  13. Getting it 99.9% right in camera is critical for real professionals.

    Like yesterday I was doing a session for a new website design. We did around 100 good shots based on 4 different looks. I shot in RAW, so after quick adjustments in Capture One I was able to provide high-res images to my client.

    And instead of going in and fixing all kinds of little things, client can start using images right away – without any delay.

    When you talk about:
    “… your client’s time, your assistant’s time, rental fees and many other factors”
    So if you don’t use your assistant, save on already paid rental and don’t value your own time in post processing – what it makes you? I say amateur.

    See if you can do a few sessions for weekly magazines, preferably front pages. I bet you to will setup everything before shoot, will use every second of you assistant during the shot, and will scream at stylist lady to make it “perfect” in reallife. What makes a pro? Ready to go images right of the camera.

    Afterall, like you say, everyone can buy your book and fake it. Amateurs that is.

  14. Many people associate Photoshop with faking pictures – adding people that weren’t there, removing buildings, etc. In that use, PS is a bad word.

    Using PS to correct white balance, crop, increase contrast and otherwise make a photo look more like what we saw (or what we reasonably might have seen) is different. Other than photojournalists, no one I know regards these practices as bad.

    >>So where does this dislike of Photoshop come from? Personally, I think it comes from not knowing Photoshop.>>
    Which is cause and which is effect? People who don’t like PS aren’t going to learn it. People who have spent the time learning PS aren’t likely to dislike it.

    PS is just today’s darkroom. There were people who disliked images that were “manipulated” in the darkroom. On the other hand, was Ansel Adams hated for spending lots of time in the darkroom?

  15. Wow, I love post like this. Can you just look back a few years at Photography. I can think back a few years……. Early Photoshop to present and it’s not even close to what we use today. With Lightroom coming of age and Photoshop to back it up how could anyone not think that this is a great time for photographers. I think it evolves the photographer more in there work and for me really takes my work to a different level.

  16. Hey Matt!

    I don’t think it is a bad word, but in my opinion PS is sometimes used too much. It kind of distorts the way we look at the world (just look at how models are altered digitally for hours after shooting just to satisfy our struggle for perfection). I don’t do commercial stuff – I’m into portraits and since LR3 I hardly use PS anymore. I can do almost everything I need there. What’s the use of a portrait that doesn’t look like the actual person anymore? Sure they like to be prettier but I’ve seen professional photographers that did alter images in such a way that you couldn’t match the actual model to the picture because they didn’t even look similar.

    I do retouching like everybody else but for me it’s important to keep “the soul” of an image. As foosion said I want the photo to look more like I saw/imagined it and that’s what PS makes a great tool for me. But I don’t want to create “artificial” humans that actually not exist in that way we “build” them in post…

    Liebe Grüße,
    Helmut

  17. Getting it 99.9% right in camera is critical for real professionals.

    Like yesterday I was doing a session for a new website design. We did around 100 good shots based on 4 different looks. I shot in RAW, so after quick adjustments in Capture One I was able to provide high-res images to my client.

    And instead of going in and fixing all kinds of little things, client can start using images right away – without any delay.

    When you talk about:
    “… your client’s time, your assistant’s time, rental fees and many other factors”
    So if you don’t use your assistant, save on already paid rental and don’t value your own time in post processing – what it makes you? I say amateur.

    See if you can do a few sessions for weekly magazines, preferably front pages. I bet you to will setup everything before shoot, will use every second of you assistant during the shot, and will scream at stylist lady to make it “perfect” in reallife. What makes a pro? Ready to go images right of the camera.

    Afterall, like you say, everyone can buy your book and fake it…

    • What is the definition of a “real professional?” How can you tell the fake professionals?

      • A real professional charges around 5 grand for a workshop so that they seem well, professional! :)

      • The ones who earn they living with photography.

      • Earning a living doesn’t make you a real professional sir. The very best photographers don’t make enough to get by on their work alone, but they are very much a professional.

      • @Joe, well lets check with Wikipedia:
        The term professional is used more generally to denote a white collar working person, or a person who performs commercially in a field typically reserved for hobbyists or amateurs.

        In western nations, such as the United States, the term commonly describes highly educated, mostly salaried workers, who enjoy considerable work autonomy, a comfortable salary, and are commonly engaged in creative and intellectually challenging work.

  18. What’s Photoshop? :)

  19. I think the problem stems from the fact that there are some purists who believe that photography is primarily a documentary art, in that it is about capturing the moment as it was and preserving it as it was. But there are lots of different types of photography. Photography as art is about creating an image that evokes an emotion and for years people have been using darkroom manipulations to get the image they want to produce. Photoshop is just an extension of that. Some see it as a bad word because they have a narrow view of what photography should be.

  20. Hi,

    The problem with photoshop is some people don’t know when to stop. OR use it badly. I rarely use it but then I do mainly reportage. On the other hand I do use Lightroom……. extensively.

    I recall the same discussion when the word processors and desk top publishing hit computers. It has changed the publishing world…. drastically but not killed it. The same will happen with photography.

    • The problem isn’t that people don’t know where to stop or use it badly. Every industry has different needs. For example, shooting for the cover of Maxim and shooting reportage like you do serve completely different audiences. Too much touch up for reportage would be bad and not enough touch up for Maxim would be bad too.

  21. The guy complaining about photoshop this week complained about digital replacing film last year. The advocates of process over image have lost focus on their final product. That may be construed as a mental defect. The real question for me is after embracing digital and photoshop will I become the next dinosaur as technology evolves ( or heaven help me if it is video replacing still photography and I already am a dinosaur).

  22. Many times I found myself in the same example you gave here : it would take 30s to fix something in PS or 40 min (of 4 people) to get it out of the camera, so it was already answered.Yes, Photoshop can be your friend !! =) Matt, do you mind if I translate this article to Portuguese and send it to a Forum I am a moderator in? Oh, and btw, your Layers book was sold out before the first break in Joe McNally’s seminar in Fort Lauderdale last Friday…

  23. Matt, I think you’ve just asked the choir if music is bad. :-)

  24. I think the key thing is not to rely on Photoshop to make a great photo. That comes from the photographer. Photoshop’s a great tool to enhance a nice photo.

  25. Hey Matt…
    Great post….while I am not a professional photographer, amateur at best….I found
    your post interesting…. I have somewhat of a different perspective, I work for an architectural firm and do 3D-Renderings and animations….
    I use photoshop everyday… in fact it has become a verb at our office.. .’let’s just photoshop that in’…. even the older guys in the office, that can do killer hand renderings
    love how I can use photoshop to get great real world looking results…
    Even when we go and take photos of projects the first thing we do it bring them
    back and take them into photoshop…
    So, from my point of view, and the view of my office, photoshop is not a dirty word,
    couldn’t do my job without it…. but as with everything good in this world, moderation
    is the key….
    Thanks for the great post….

  26. Matt,
    Being a creative director at an ad agency, I’ve always said I don’t care how they made the shot, as long as that shot is AWESOME. The “work” is what matters. Not how it is done or what tool is used. Photoshop is just a tool, like a camera or a paint brush for an artist. But just because you have the right tool doesn’t make you Rembrandt or Picasso. You’ve got to have the talent.

  27. Is Photoshop a Bad Word? “Photoshop” is a Stupendous Word!

    “Practice”, is a bad, bad, evil word. Or the “Practice” that is required to to have “skill” in photoshop, is a Very Bad Word.

    Cameras are so good today that it is difficult, if the camera is on “Auto” to take a less than technically perfect photograph.

    There is image stabilization (no tripod necessary), ISO 12,800 (no tripod necessary in the dark), Image Scenes (B+W, Vibrant Color, Sunset Super Colors, Night vision, Sepia), Video at the flick of a switch, and my favorite, Coming to stores near you soon, “Smell-o-vision”.

    There is tremendous instant gratification in digital Photography with the camera set to “Auto” and very little “skill” is required. BUT, turn the dial to “M” and see what happens. : ) (muffled villainous laughing)
    Now the rules change! Skills have to be practiced and learned. It requires the worst word of all. “WORK” (OH, NO NOT THAT WORD!) as they all go running, trying to remember their happy place.

    Lightroom and Photoshop are indispensable tools. The skill to use them must be practiced and learned. It is work, but the rewards are worth the effort.

    ps. Matt, Where is the Ansel Adams, preset in photoshop. I have looked everywhere and I can’t find it?

  28. Photoshop, and Lightroom, are the modern day equivalent to the Darkroom. Even Ansel Adams manipulated his photographs.

  29. Trevor nailed it. The folks reading this are by definition “Photoshop Users”. You are talking to the choir. That said I have a couple of observations the first being that Photoshop is not the only software out there that can do these things. It’s just the most popular and consequently the one with the most resources for mastering it, including you guys.

    Matt, you’ll have to pardon my snickering when you defended yourself as an old timer (age 37) who had started on film. I’m 66 and I started on cut film in Graflex cameras. Despite that I got into digital via scanning even before there were any decent digital cameras available. What was that SONY one that recorded on floppy disks? It was before that one and more than 8 years ago. My first memory of a digital encounter was a Shutterbug cover and article about digital manipulation. They had a landscape with various items including a Greek column defying gravity and floating in the sky. I didn’t see the point of floating objects but did see the possibilities of digital manipulation. I started with Paint Shop Pro.

    I think that much of the not liking Photoshop is really a metaphor for a purist philosophy of photographic realism. It’s not so much that they are arguing against finish work as arguing against creation of an unreality, perhaps not as extreme as Greek columns floating in the sky but certainly theatrical productions with “a mountain top with smoke machines, a race car, and the most dramatic sky ever seen” where there was really only a “person standing on white seamless”.

    You and your cohorts are commercial photographers. That’s the kind of thing you do. Nothing wrong with that as the saying goes but it colors your view of Photoshop (an essential tool for what you do) just as the photojournalist who can lose his/her job for doing those same things has their view of it colored by what they do for a living. The problem in this debate isn’t Photoshop, it is that photography isn’t a single pursuit and that this debate (from both sides) tries to treat photography as if it was one pursuit with a single way of working. My advice? The next time someone says “I don’t like Photoshop”, just say “That’s fine. It’s a big world with room for all sorts of photographers”. ;-)

  30. When I was discussing the use of Photoshop with a photographer who I really admire, he said something that kind of alleviated my fears of using Photoshop. He said, “…just remember, Photoshop IS the digital darkroom, you can’t develop film with out a darkroom can you?”

    That being said, I do think some use Photoshop as a crutch for less-than-good photography. On the other side, I know there are some amazing artists out there who can take a good photo, and turn it in to an amazing work of art. I’m not one of those hehe. I fall more in to the school of thought, where I use PS to enhance my photography, but I would be more than happy if they came right out of the camera looking perfect. :)

    Photoshop is the way of photography life.

  31. I know a guy who is a “pro” photographer who brags about the fact that he doesn’t use PS. I just think to my self….well I can’t saw what I think. I believe we need Photoshop to be able to play on that next level. I also wonder why photogs just beginning with PS would not join NAPP! I think we all want to get it right in camera, but there are times when I shoot with PS in mind, knowing I will be “fixing” it.

  32. I think it boils down to what did you “see” when you took the shot? Did you see it black and white? Did you see it as a HDR image? Did you think the model was perfect for a fantasy portrait? Your vision for the potential of what’s in the frame is what separates you from the game 5 feet away, and using Photoshop as a tool to crafting that vision is no less important than the body or lens you capture it with.

  33. Great post Matt. I think if you want to be successful as a photographer, Photoshop is a requirement. To whatever extent the client and the competition demand. If you are a purist at heart, you better be at the top of your profession or leave the purity for when you are shooting just for yourself. And if you don’t know Photoshop, chances are you will have lots of opportunity to shoot for yourself.

  34. This was a well thought out post. I really like Jasmine Star’s comments on using Photoshop. She said “Photoshop is like adding salt to already great meal.” I think she’s right. You have to start with a great photo (the meal) and then add a little extra flavoring (Photoshop) to taste.

  35. Is Photoshop a bad word? …..I started with Photoshop 6.0 so now its almost like part of my arm. I know there are a ton of people out there that don’t understand all the creative options it offers us photographers. Sure, I always try to get it right in the camera, but sometimes I see something with a Photoshopped end-result in mind. I can enhance just about any photo I take in some way or another. I use it for my photos, my artwork, and love having “total control” over my final output. I too think the people that scoff at Photoshop, don’t really know all of its creative possibilities. It can be intimidating to learn and time consuming but today its just part of my workflow. Ana said it right, it would take 30s to fix something in PS or 40 min (and 4 people) to get it right out of the camera. For me, time is money so I’ll go directly to Photoshop. It is definitely the most important tool I have in my digital workflow.

  36. You’re right, most serious photographers know they need Photoshop to complete their process. As far as controversy goes, isn’t HDR the new Photoshop?

  37. Interesting article. It all comes down to whether or not you would prefer the surgeon to operate on you with a dull knife or a scalpel. I say that we should use the tools that are available; or, we can go continue to drive nails with rocks…if we can find someone who knows how to make nails.

  38. I think that is true there are many of us hobbyist who just don’t know how to use PS. Ever since I saw the content aware fill in CS5 I want it! What one or two books (probably yours and Kelby’s:)) would you recommend to get a newbie up to speed quickly for portrait retouching. I use and like LR3.

  39. This is at best a shallow and a mediocre post about the significant question of ‘altering reality.’ People’s uneasiness with photoshop is based on the potential doubt that what they see in a photo may not be real. This is very understandable generations of people who solely relied on photography to document or learn about the life out there.

    It is obvious that Matt is too much into the ‘business’ to take an objective standpoint about the a tool. His disadvantage comes from over-knowing it.

    Finally, arguments like ‘people don’t like photoshop because they don’t know (how to use) it’ are unsubstantiated and trying to support it by saying 100% of the people (which is statistically impossible) is plain wrong. To criticize something, you don’t have to know how to use it. You can very well understand what a tool represents without knowing how to use it.
    Regards
    Ahmet

  40. Amen, Brother Matt…of course, in my case you are definitely preaching to the choir! ;-)

    • Hi Ahmet,

      You say, “generations of people who solely relied on photography to document or learn about the life out there.”

      I have spent a lot of time in photo history courses and the one thing I have learned is that photography has never been about objective reality.
      Photographers have always “set up” their photos before a shot was taken and then used countless darkroom tricks “in post”.

      The oldest surviving photo ever taken was created by Niépce in 1825.
      It was an image of his courtyard, taken from his bedroom window.
      Before he made his 6 hour exposure using a camera obscura, he had his house servants remove any clutter from the scene and spruce the place up.

      Photography has never been a truly objective view of reality.

  41. Just let the time pass a bit. Few years ago magazines and columnists said digital cameras would never beat film. Two years ago Live View was only for amateurs. Facebook is not for commercial users, they said this spring – now theres is a run on the service. You gambit stop it The future.

  42. Photoshop is a tool. Like all tools, whether it be a gun, axe, car, or bomb, it is an inanimate object in the hands of a person who can do good or bad. For those who defend the goodness of photoshop, in the hands of a photojournalist who wishes to distort the image for the sake of the story (eg. multi-missiles being shot with the same exhaust trail) it can be a bad (but still a tool in the hands of a bad journalist). For those who think it is bad some great photos would not have the impact were it not for this tool. Before there was a photoshop, the darkroom photographer had to take more time and effort to change the image from the negative. So remember when you defend photoshop, the tool, you also defend the aforementioned politically incorrect nouns.

  43. I am not a professional photographer, but I am a “professional” and what that means to me is maintaining a certain level of excellence and skill with whatever task I undertake. As techniques and procedures to help me stay at that level of excellence evolve, then it’s up to me to keep pace and keep learning. Being able to look at results and say “I did that and it’s good”, is quite satisfying. If Photoshop helps me attain that objective from what I capture with my cameras, then I say great.

  44. I think you are 100% correct that most people who are photographed today either expect you to do some kind of editing or prefer that you do some type of editing. I have been asked to touch up specific areas, teeth, skin blemishes (pimples), shave off a few pounds etc… if i was a photographer that strictly didn’t use photoshop then I would have probably lost myself a customer or at least left them a little unhappy about how their pics are going to look. If you are shooting for a client then I would think that the ultimate goal would be to make that client the happiest that you can and if you are shooting for yourself then why would you want to limit yourself?

    I do my best to get the picture right from the start, but you open it up in photoshop adjust something as simple as the contrast and BAM that good picture just got better. If I want to add a third eye or a unicorn eating a pig in the background then I have those options…and that’s what i think it boils down to. Photoshop provides you the option to see your creation finalized in either yours or your clients eye (not the third one though, it doesn’t see so well).

    HOORAY for Phtoshop!!!!

  45. Matt… good post and an interesting topic. I also agree that people who are negative about Photoshop just don’t know what it can do for them. I am a total novice at Photoshop but I understand the tool that it can be and just wish I had the time to dedicate to learn it better. It certainly could never hurt to know your way around PS even if you don’t run every single image you shoot through it…

    I think the same goes for flash photography. Whenever I meet someone that claims to be “an available light shooter only” I see a person who has no understanding of how to use a flash or manipulate light to their advantage. It’s just another tool and even if it isn’t your thing to use flash all the time just knowing how to use a flash, or multiple flashes, can be a great asset when needed.

    Thanks!
    Scott

  46. Matt, to say that I used Photoshop to enhance a camera pic usually has a negative connotation to it for the reasons pointed out by previous commentators. Dan Margulis impressed on me the need to check the color of digital pics in his instruction book and courses. Most pics need some adjustment, otherwise you may end up with what he calls “impossible” colors. For me, this is the most important feature I attend to since I use my pics as reference material for my digital paintings. I believe that good taste has to be a consideration when using PS to adjust pics in a subtle way so as to capture what the scene actually looked like. In this way PS is actually doing all concerned a favor by maintaining the integrity of the original scene.

  47. Given the audience, I’d best put on my asbestos underwear, but to me, Photoshop is to photography what plastic surgery is to Hollywood.

    I’m not saying that there’s anything inherently wrong with creating a Photoshopped image (or a surgically-enhanced starlet), just that you lose a certain claim to authenticity when you do so.

  48. You never hear anyone criticize the use of GIMP.

  49. Matt, I agree with your point of view. I would like to add as I have transitioned to film that it is a joy to be free from the ‘darkroom’. Thanks ton you and all the photoshop guys in helping me with the learning curve. Susan, Seger Studio,Fl

  50. Matt, I agree with your point of view. I would like to add as I have transitioned from film that it is a joy to be free from the ‘darkroom’. Thanks ton you and all the photoshop guys in helping me with the learning curve. Susan, Seger Studio,Fl

  51. Matt, I agree with your point of view. I would like to add as I have transitioned “from” film that it is a joy to be free from the ‘darkroom’. Thanks ton you and all the photoshop guys in helping me with the learning curve. Susan, Seger Studio,Fl

  52. This is like asking people their favorite flavor of ice cream and then telling them they are wrong. With the available digital technology the lines between the various graphic arts is not so clear. My approach is that I will use all the tools and techniques I can get my hands on to enhance the quality of the image I am creating. Whether that is an on camera flash, push processing of film, (you remember film?) or the latest set of actions for my post processing of a digital capture. There is no organization who dictates what is acceptable and what is not, so the debate, or question you raise has no answer. Just lots of impassioned opinions. I am an architect and enjoy classical Greek architecture, I just can’t imaging building today with their construction techniques.

    I hear all of my editorial friends reminding me that PS is a real career killer in their world. We have all seen the fallout when it is revealed that images from a news story have been manipulated. That is one place we can all agree PS has very little place, and when used must be properly noted.

    Photoshop is a tool, when used effectively can help communicate to an audience the ideas of the artist, photographer, amateur or professional.

  53. Matt, great reading as always, however, the blinking from the advertisements is quite annoying when your trying to focus on the content.

  54. Great article. I don’t know Photoshop too well, but I do use Lightroom. I see it as a tool that is indispensable to my workflow. I’ve never shown a client a photo that wasn’t edited, unless it were on the back of my camera during a shoot. Part of the “style and look” of a photographer might be their post-processing ability. Honestly, sometimes the most enjoyable part of the shoot is the editing stage. I sometimes can’t wait to get my hands on a particular shot or series of shots in Lightroom to play with. Don’t get me wrong, I love photography, and I do a lot to keep educated and in practice, but there’s no reason to stifle the fun because of some arrogant ethic, unless that’s your sentiment or you work as a journalist.

  55. I just think that is progression, digital enhancment is just a stange after taking the shot. You still have to take a great shot before being able to enhance it. I suppose it all depends on the amount you ‘add’ to the shot, rather then working with the shot. I love to edit a shot, but sometimes a shot doesn’t need it, it all depends on what your trying to achieve. I agree with David, photoshop is a tool and should be used to express what you what out of a shot.

  56. Matt, Great blog!

    Being 70 years old and just starting to use PS and Lightroom (Thanks to NAPP for teaching me) has brought my photography to a new level. I’m by know means a Professional, but I do know that while I’m learning to get it right in the camera I need PS to bring the best out in my Photos. Some of us don’t have the $$$’s to go out a buy the best ND filter or Graduated filters or Color filter, but we can get the close to the same results by using PS … So what’s the big deal! People who know me and look at my photos (some buy them) know I use PS and Lightroom and they just love the look of my photos. I tell them that PS and Lightroom are nothing more than the equivalent of the film Darkroom. Film photographers spent hours even days in the Darkroom to get the look and feel they wanted … so what’s the difference if the digital Photographer uses PS and Lightroom. Without PS, where would the Graphic Art Industry be right now?

    Thanks for stirring up this topic … good stuff!

    Dennis

  57. A timely post for me since my photo club just banned using PS for all the clubs competitions. I am not sure how they plan to enforce the ruling. According to several members they can tell when something is photoshopped. I can tell when it is done poorly, but good post processing is very difficult to tell. Needless to say it is time to find another photo club for me.

    • Are you serious?!? That’s unreal. I wouldn’t belong to a club that has an interest in photography but ties your hands to learn and have fun and do the best job you can. Do they have rules on what type vehicle you drive to get to the meetings too? Maybe nothing newer than 1990 :)

    • Huh? Guess that cuts down on the number of competition entries! How are you supposed to do this? Did they ban digital photography? I can understand restricting competitions to not include photo-illustrations say, no montages, etc. Do they also ban dodging and burning in the darkroom? Pretty rare for a photo straight out of the camera to be competition-worthy.

    • Have you asked them if they are going to disallow looking at Ansel Adams’ photographs and using them as teaching tools?

      • What does that even mean? Even so-called “straight out of the camera” pictures aren’t that–and never have been, unless you’re talking about Polaroids. Printing negatives and processing JPEG files all involve choices between the time the shutter clicks and the time the image is viewed.

  58. “In the Beginning, God created the Pinhole camera.” In a blink of the eye someone added a lens, then flash powder, a filter, roll film, zoom lens, strobes, $5,000 lenses, $7,000 digital cameras, etc and etc. Ansel Adams created beautiful photographs dozens of steps passed a pinhole camera. Today Photoshop is just another way to thank God for photography. No move on.

  59. My analogy for the use of photoshop is like cooking chicken. Some people use minimal seasonings and flavorings (color correct, sharpen, crop) while others use exotic herbs and spices (everything else possible with photoshop) to flavor their photography to their tastes. Anti-photoshop people are like vegans; strict purists who don’t want anything to do with what goes against their belief which would include cooking chicken.

    It’s all a matter of tastes and what each individual finds palatable.

    I, for one, enjoy all the flavors that photoshop has to offer. Thankfully, we have some of the worlds best chefs teaching us how to cook in NAPP.

    (I’m so hungry right now.)

  60. Hi Matt great and well-written post. I agree that most of the Photoshop haters simply don’t how to use it. This applies to many things in life. People don’t like what they don’t understand. I think there is an additional contingent. There are those who are more concerned with the PROCESS than the PICTURE. For them, the end result matters less than some sort of self-inflicted purity test. Of course what’s pure to one may not be to another. I think photography is one of those pursuits that lends itself to these controversies since there are so many different approaches to photography. Some photographers like the gear, the science, the technology. Still others like the art and craft. Still others like the documentary, history-preserving nature of photography. With all these different approaches to the same thing you’re bound to get folks arguing over process. Me? I just care about the picture. I don’t care what process you used to get it. Nobody will be talking about the process 50 years ago. If you do a good job they WILL be talking about the picture.

  61. Personally, I think you’re putting too much emphasis on Photoshop. It might be more accurate to say that any “photo editing program” is 100% necessary IF you’re shooting digital (or scanning old film). For example, I can do everything I want/need to do to 95% of my photos in Lightroom without ever going to Photoshop. Plus, I’m still seeing very good images from film photographers and I’ve even seen good images straight out of the digital camera.

    Yes, many people have a knee-jerk reaction to the word “Photoshop” because to them it signifies excessive manipulation. The main thing is: when you’re editing a photo (in any program, not just Photoshop), you ought to have a purpose in mind when you start (see David DuChemin’s latest book “Vision & Voice” for good pointers about that) and you have to know when to stop. Many people don’t know either of those points …

  62. what a great article,
    I’m afraid I take the wind up tac with the old ones, I always ask why didn’t you use photoshop, and pointout how much better it would have been if that old print it was a little – lighter -,sharper,etc.
    Let hope the old ones don’t start on Lightroom!!!!! (we all know that it was Moses Kloskowski delivered the tablets of LR knowledge to the lost tribe of photographers)

  63. I think people who claim to dislike Photoshop don’t really know anything about photography in it’s present or past form. Many think that in the old days, images shot of film were more “true to life”. (Don’t tell Man Ray!) That always makes me laugh.

    When shooting on film, dozens of decisions go into what the final image will look like. Are you using negative or slide film? What brand, what type? Fine grain, hard grain? Even different Kodak/Fujifilm/Agfa stocks will get you different results. What chemicals are you going to use? Are you going to cross-process? (Gee, if I do that will make the photo look different from reality – is that cheating?) If you shorten or lengthen the development timing, you’re going to alter the contrast, etc. What kind of paper are you printing on? Are you going to dodge and burn while printing, you cheater!? How about adding contrast filters to the enlarger?

    Please – photoshop just makes things easier, faster and more accessible. This myth that photoshop is cheating is a bunch of nonsense.

  64. I think all the new generation photographers have known the importance of the Photoshop. It’s not that without it photographs can’t be clicked and awards can’t be won.

    I think we should take the software as a tool. It’s a extension to a persons creativity. For Photoshop to work on you need a brilliant photograph. Without a good photograph you cannot do anything. Now with modern multi media world and advancements photoshop hasn’t remained a tool for photographer’s only but also for 3d artists like me. We also have debates whether photoshoping is good.

    But even then a brilliant render can be worked on to make a superb final output
    image. Otherwise there isn’t a point.

    I feel as I learn one must always try his level best to get the shot right during live-shoot, rest things like sharpening, colors, tones etc. can be adjusted as and when required in Photoshop. There is no limit for using photoshop. But it completely depends upon the one who uses it and the requirement.

    I feel without a good picture, you won’t have anything to work on in photoshop. So getting a good shot during a live shoot is 95% and photoshop is 5%.

    Finally the output is what is important.

    My 2 cents from whatever I have been learning.

  65. Anyone who isn’t mixing their own emulsion and applying it to glass plates in the dark isn’t a real photographer. It says so right on the label.

    8-)

    Art and commercial images, of course, have always been manipulated. Pushing highlights and shadows around in the darkroom, dodging and burning, airbrushing, whatever, were the tools of the photographer for decades. Photoshop is just a more-efficient tool to get better results faster. FWIW, I think that’s a good thing, but then I’ve been using Photoshop for nearly 20 years, so it’s possible I’m biased.

    On photojournalism: Is it possible to lie with Photoshop? Of course. Fortunately, many people who try that are very bad liars, but some are good enough to get away with it. That’s bad. (In case you were wondering.)

    Is it possible to lie with a picture SOOC? Absolutely. By cropping or framing carefully, lighting “creatively”, “styling” a model or interview subject, or moving props (or dead bodies, as Matthew Brady did) into or out of the frame can present a picture that completely misrepresents the truth while still following journalistic rules.

    The issue here isn’t how you do it but what you do.

  66. Matt, I don’t think it’s as clear cut as “they don’t know how to use photoshop”. I think there is a lot of “purist” mentality too. And if you’re a purist it’s obvious you’re not going to want to learn photoshop.

  67. Interesting article, and interesting comments… All those who think “only amateurs” need to use Photoshop (or, I guess other ‘digital enhancement’ tools), when was the last time you printed a RAW picture without ‘interpreting’ (i.e. changing “reality”) it by applying a tone mapping tool?! I’m sure if you did, you didn’t sell those pictures :)

  68. It’s all about the intention, I think…

    We all talk about the “Art of Photography” and there are numerous discussion on the Net about the true value of photography as an art.

    If what we’re trying is to create is “ART”, Does it really matter what tools we use? I bet you, nobody complained to Dali, Van Gogh or Cezanne on the types of brushes, canvas or paint that they used to convey their art, even though some of them were trying to paint what they saw.

    Even if you are taking pictures for a newspaper and you intention is to show the reality of the events, does it matter if you adjust the contrast, luminance, color, white balance (all the things that we’re already doing inside the camera)? I think not…

    I think this is one of those machiavellian things where the End Justifie the Means…

  69. Well said, Matt! I remember the hours I spent in my darkroom dodging, burning, cleaning negatives and slides, removing lint, making up chemicals, and hanging up prints to dry, etc. I, too, got into digital eight years ago and have never looked back. I’ve been using Photoshop from the beginning and with the advent of Lightroom, my ability to effectively sort, organize and print my photos has improved my workflow, tremendously.

  70. Photoshop and all other post-processing tools are great in my opinion if they allow you to improve your shots. I’m all for the use of these tools to create great images. To me what matters is the end result, wheter any post processing was used doesn’t really matter.

    It is like recording music on analog tapes vs recording in digital with Pro Tools. Some people will be against it saying that they fix parts which removes from the performance and authenticity, etc. But in the end, the people listening to music or looking at a picture won’t really care how it was done… They only care if the picture/music touches them.

  71. if you shoot canon you’ll spend way more time in PS

  72. Agreed. Those who don’t like PS don’t know how to use it. (I’ve even seen the Kelby guys jumping thru hoops they don’t have to) There is no comparison, really.

  73. As a graphic designer I have been using Photoshop for 15 years – long before digital photography. When I worked in publishing editorial and advertising we would get the film in from the photographers, scan it and put it straight into photoshop. It was a must to correct the colours, remove dust and retouch any problems just like today. Nothing has changed apart from now everyone knows what Photoshop is.

  74. Personally, I’m all about breaking rules, so playing with photoshop until someone screams foul excites me. Don’t you just love the haters?

  75. Thank you! I get so frustrated when I hear the snotty toned comments about how they would rather ‘get it right in the camera’ as if that’s acceptable and using ps isn’t. I tell people I shoot *digital* and that INCLUDES my photoshop processing, and that I shoot knowing what the end result will look like. When I say I know what I’ll do in photoshop I have gotten strange looks like I read as people thinking wow she’s not even going to try to get it right! lol. I am not great at getting exposures perfectly correct, I shoot a little under exposed. I shoot in raw, I know what I can and will get from the shot and I have fun.

    Sorry to change the subject but why do I get the feeling that for photographers who do just photography, we are getting pushed into LR instead of PS? PS is expensive but I like the interface and see no need for LR. I’m just worried that I’ll be forced away from PS by design as it evolves more for 3d and other artists and gets more expensive. I was shocked a few months ago to watch dtown or one of those and hear you rant about how if you are a photographer you need LR. I want my PS and big bridge! :)

    • Hi Laryl,

      I mean no disrespect, but I think it depends on what your use is. If your only taking a few shots from a photo shoot to edit, then PS is the best tool you can get. But, if you’re processing 1000 photos from a wedding, then a program such as LR is irreplaceable. Unless you’ve sat down and worked with it for more than a day, you can’t truly understand the brilliance of LR.

      Cheers!
      Trevor

      • why.. what does LR do that PS can’t batch and do? I admit I don’t know LR at all but I am curious what LR can do that PS can’t. I can process 1000 images just like the first one if I want, I can apply certain settings to any/all/choices of images in a keystroke. So what diff does it make how many images you have? And if you use LR then do you end up going to ps for part of your processing and that’s still faster/easier?

      • I believe one of the biggest advantages is the RAW editing. Everything is done in RAW and non-destructively. In PS, once you’ve closed an image, you can’t go back and undo a step from the previous editing session. But with LR, you can always undo previous steps after closing out of the program and reopening. Also, they layout of the images in the Library and Develop modules is more user friendly. Instead of creating multiple copies of the same image to create different versions, you can create “virtual copies” which limits that amount of hard drive space you use (I know HDDs are cheap, but I use this feature all the time because it’s quick). I don’t want to turn this into a novel, but there are countless other features that I like to use in LR over PS. 95% of my images are completed in LR only with the other 5% needing PS work for layers or complicated cloning that LR can’t handle with the spot removal tool. My only suggestion is that you try it out for yourself! There’s a 30-day free trial download from Adobe. Grab a book for guidance and enjoy! :)

        Cheers!

      • Cheers Trevor and thanks for the followup info. This space isn’t about which program to pick, Matt’s point is to use one so I’ll quietly watch. I do everything in RAW. I would have liked to hear why doing 1000 images is easier but like you said I could get a trial and try it. I just see no reason to. :) It’s cool that we all have our individual “fit” for processing and are happy. I like my one stop does it all PS. :)

  76. Processing has always been done in photography, either in the darkroom or on the computer. Photoshop and other programs are just using pixels instead of chemicals. Photo manipulation can (and has) been done in the darkroom as well since the beginning of photography.

    I agree with most points in the article except one — For my use, I find it much easier and quicker to get it right before taking the photo. As a lifestyle photographer, having a client brush her hair out of her eyes or tuck in a bra strap is MUCH faster than dealing with it in post processing. I try to avoid the shrug, “just-keep-shooting, I can fix it in post” mentality for those things because it always would have been quicker to get it right in the original photo. Yes, I can fix a wayward bra strap in post, but when I have to clone it out of five or six photos, it most definitely would have been quicker to fix it first. I am a photographer first and foremost, and the camera is my main tool.

    And for the comment about the photo club guidelines, we’ve gone through that in our club, too. We now have two categories: light (or none) and heavy. The light or heavy designation is adjustments with sliders. For light, you can use any sliders to your heart’s content, but the second you use a brush to mask back something or use the clone tool or anything that is not applied via slider, you’re in the heavy category. Works for us so far, but you will always have those that will complain and argue no matter what!

  77. Good Post Matt!
    When I used film camera, I would go to the darkroom to process my film and make my prints a half of lifetime later, I use a digital camera, I go to my office sit down at my Mac, open Lightroom or Photoshop to process my files and make my prints. Essentially my office is my darkroom, if I didn’t use Photoshop, what would I do!, how could I use my files, they say their are other programs, but I don’t know any of their names……somebody mentioned a program that started with a, a, c_ _r, gee, I just can’t remember that name, but wouldn’t that be cheating too!
    But, Matt the one thing I would change about your “Of course” I would add “don’t you”!

  78. Can’t help thinking of Ansel Adams and his disciples dodging, burning, intensifying, spotting, etc. away in the stinky darkroom. Guess the “purists” would ban that sort of nonsense as well. Yes of course you can go well beyond “photography” with Ps and its moral equivalents. Maybe where we’re headed, eventually there will really be no distinction between, painting, graphic art, photography, etc.

  79. I agree that Photoshop (or Lightroom, Aperture, etc.) is a tool, and a necessary one for digital photography. The question shouldn’t be whether it was used on an image, but rather how it was used. It’s true that color/density correction, dodging and burning, etc. are essentially traditional darkroom techniques; but heavy-handed manipulation (or certain “fixing”) looks and feels more like animation than photography.

  80. Photoshop was a godsend for me. I used to spend endless hours in the darkroom but never got very good at it. On the other hand I have always loved computers. So when digital phtography and photoshop came around I never looked back!

  81. I couldn’t read all of the comments so it may have been said.

    A very well written article, as usual. But, I think you’re preaching to the choir here. Maybe you should email the board of the photo club that banned the use of Photoshop.

  82. Saying Photoshop is a bad work is akin to someone in medieval times saying chisel was a bad word. Sure there were plenty of sculptures out there where the chisel work was poor and people laughed and mocked their sculpters. But, in the hands of a master, particularly a super master like Michaelangelo, the chisel was his means of delivering beauty from within a block of stone.

    Today, Photoshop is a way of delivering beauty (or functionality) from an image. Yes, the basic image is there in the capture but it’s true potential can only be released by a craftsman teasing out those qualities using the best tools and techniques of his time.

  83. Well said Matt! I’m a LR and CS5 user and could not dream of living in the flat, uninteresting world of “right out of the camera” images.

    I’m also still trying trying to figure out the exact point in time when “Photoshop” transcended noun status and became a verb ;)

    Cheers!

    DC

  84. This is a great topic. I am fairly new to Photoshop but I love it. I agree that you do have to get a great picture in camera but think about what Photoshop can let you do with it after you take it. Sure, sometimes you want to capture a realistic scene and maybe you just do some color correction or sharpening. I have many other times though when I want to make them much more artistic and do things that my camera can’t do very easily. I don’t think it’s cheating. I think it’s artistic expression.

  85. Up until a few years ago I never touched Photoshop…I had no idea how to use it and thought like many that I didn’t want to “alter” my work. I then (in my late 40’s) took a college course on how to use Photoshop…rocked my world…I have since taken another college class and just this year two online classes. Not one photo that comes out of my digital camera is safe from Photoshop. Some only get small adjustments, some get the whole workover. I LOVE Photoshop!

  86. I agree, with one exception. I am continually hearing photographers griping at classes and workshops about the waste of time it is when the instructor is tweaking lighting, etc. to get a better image in-camera. Quite a few seem to have the idea that the best way to work is get a sloppy photo in-camera and fix it in Photoshop later. I think there is a certain point where someone becomes less a photographer and more a computer, graphicy kind of person. (Don’t know a word for that. Sorry.)

  87. I got my first DSLR two years ago. So I very much feel the push pull that you are talking about. I had tried working on elements and just didn’t get it. This past summer I purchased PSCS5 and took a class. I’m never turning back!! I have someone in my life that hates PS and thinks that “if you don’t get it in the camera – you don’t get it”. There’s no way I’ll ever think this way. I’m loving learning PS and loving the results even better.

  88. I do not agree – speaking as a professional photographer – that it is necessary to use PS.

    Firstly, it is massively over-complex for what is required 90% of the time and it has quite the worst GUI of any software out there. It is also hugely expensive.

    Secondly, there are plenty of alternatives to PS. I use Apple Aperture combined with the full suite of Nik Software plugins. The system is FAR more intuitive to a photographer than PS will ever be and produces excellent results.

    If I do have something for which PS is the only answer (rare but it does happen) then, as you suggest, I outsource it.

    I agree that a photographer today certainly has to know how to retouch and enhance images on a computer – but I certainly do not think that PS is the only game in town, nor the best one for most users.

  89. Yay Matt. I grew up back in the film days. Had my own wet darkroom, and loved the process. I didn’t get my first digital camera until 5 years ago. Now that I have a digital camera and have learned photoshop and other software, I don’t miss the hypo or the film. I’m glad I had the experience, but I’m not sorry to see it go. I’ll never go back to it. I like waking up in the morning with clean lungs. I like being able to take a two hour break while working on a photo. I like waking up in the middle of the night with an idea and firing up the computer to create it without having to mix chemicals.

    As for Photoshop, you are spot on by saying that the folks who poo poo it are most often those who don’t really know how to use it. I remember first hearing about Photoshop while I was shopping for used Leica lenses as Ken Hansen’s in NYC back in the early 1990’s. I saw a demo of someone scanning a negative and then working on it in Photoshop. My reaction to it then was: why bother when all that can be done in the darkroom?

    Luddites don’t want to admit that Photoshop has changed photography. Let them live with their head burring in the sand. When they finally pull it out they will be surprised to find that the entire universe has passed them by.

  90. Just saw an exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California Art. There was a print each from Imogen Cunningham and Edward Weston from their Pictorialist periods. Wow, when they found their f/stops everything got real sharp. Photoshop gets it sharp for me. I have more tools now than the old darkroom in the 70’s and no piro stains on my hands.

  91. Great topic and well-said, Matt (Moses!). There’s no substitute for good shooting skills, and I expect careless shooters will at least cost themselves more time in post, and will eventually lose out to better shooters who took a reasonable amount of field time. Photo editing software is a tool just like equipment and technique, and ignoring such a powerful tool is akin to sticking one’s head in the sand. BTW, “Photoshop” as a verb was in last Saturday’s Dilbert strip:

    http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2010-12-04/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DilbertDailyStrip+%28Dilbert+Daily+Strip%29

  92. I feel like I get “blamed” for this a lot by professional photographers who grew up in the film age. It’s really sad that now I have to defend images that I’ve Photoshopped. It’s ridiculous.

  93. Matt-

    Good post!

    It amazes me that this is still an issue. Photographers have been manipulating images since the beginning. For me it’s all about creativity and I love the power available to myself, even as an amateur.

    It’s not all about age. I’m 60 and I think what’s going on today in digital photography, software and lighting is incredibly exciting. Or, dare I say it, “way cool”?

  94. Awesome post…first time poster here. :) And I’m just getting deeper into digital photography. I was one of those who would have said “It’s ok to use Photoshop, but it’s better to do it in-camera.” Well, right now, everything I do goes through Adobe Lightroom. I may not do much image compositing, but I definitely have photoshop to thank for speeding up my workflow, and making me do things that I couldn’t have done by myself. So I embrace photoshop…hey, if there’s another software out there that will help me realize my vision, why skimp on it? :)

    Thanks for the post, Matt!!

  95. I think it’s time to share this on Facebook & Twitter. It seems a lot of people don’t get this, or they rely only on Photoshop. I think your first tip is the most important one.

  96. I go back to the days of film, and owned a small photo lab that did hand printing and developing. We used different developers, changed development time, did push and pull processing of film, burnt and dodge prints, printed multiple images on the same sheet of paper on a regular basis, if photoshop had been around twenty five years ago we would have had more time to create images and test our creativity. I still don’t have photoshop all figured out, I will say that your books and podcasts have helped a great deal. (I also don’t remember podcast being around in the 70’s either, but alas there is quite a bit about the 70’s I don’t recall)

  97. Anyone that can’t use photoshop are usually the first people to trash it. Thankfully for us there are still a lot of those people out there, and thusly the competitive advantage is still strong…. for now.

  98. Good stuff, pal. I liked the point about the brush being a 20-second fix instead of reshooting for 10-15 minutes. However, I’ll admit this line of thinking has, at times, made me a bit lazy (“ah, I’ll just clone out that fence post later…take me 10 seconds…). Yes..I’m very ashamed…

    • I’m never ashamed of my finished result.. and that’s what I’m after :) So if I remove a post and love the image what is lazy about that… unless as a purist you’d skip the shot or pull the post out with a winch and put it back after the shot :)

  99. Very nice essay Matt. I understand the fear (because that’s what it really is) of Photoshop amongst a certain group of Photographers. It’s fear of losing what you thought you had (a handle on photography) and getting what you need (customers or fans).

    The unfortunate truth is Photography has always been an ART OF TECHNOLOGY since the days of camera obscura, to the Daguerreotype or the The Four Step Collodion Process, to film and darkroom techniques (Ansel Adam’s Zone system).

    So today, Photoshop (or GIMP or some type of software) has become the darkroom of yesteryear. Technology advances. And the old myth that a photograph shows THE TRUTH has never been true. It’s always been just a version of the truth.

    So photography and photographic software is the WAY of photography now. If you still believe otherwise, your like the collector of old things who walked to school barefoot in the snow, up-hill both ways, of course.

  100. I agree with the sentiment of your post Matt; Photoshop is just another tool.

    Unfortunately Photoshop is a bad word, the wider world is aware of the term, the software and its uses and it is now used as a synonym for cheating or doing something ‘unnatural’.

    Taken to extremes – difficult to know where to draw the line – I have to agree with them. I use LR religiously – and am more than capable with PS – and no image makes it out into the world without going through LR. But I feel that LR has a fairly appropriate palette of tools for a photographer, specifically about enhancing and optimising a ‘digital negative’. There are obviously further tools available in PS that allow you to take that further, and in so doing you quickly move out of the realm of photography and into digital artwork. For me sticking the Himalayas behind someone shot in the studio isn’t ‘great photography’ however it may be very creative and fit the clients needs for a fraction of the price (and let’s face it 99.99% photography has little ambition of being groundbreaking/great/iconic).

    Ultimately does it matter? Unless you try to pass it off as something it’s not (“hey look at me on top of Everest!”) then the process is largely immaterial other than to adhere to whatever label/rules you might give yourself. Be that photographer or digital artist matters a lot less than the ultimate expression of your vision by whatever means.

  101. Just the other night I had to tiptoe through a conversation about this at my gallery.

    I began photography shooting film in high school, but had to cease in college. Not only was it expensive for a non-major, but I REALLY missed the dark room work of finishing my photos; CVS just couldn’t do it the way I wanted.

    Ten years later I bought a D90 and my life changed. Now I could see what I was doing right away and make changes. Two months later I bought Lightroom and my life has been spiraling upward ever since. Now I can finish my pictures the way I could in the dark room as a kid. I have quit my job and am making a career of this fine art.

    Cuss all you want; Photoshop gave photography back to me.

  102. Great post. Thanks for sharing your point with us. I agree 100%. I love the creative process with both shooting pictures and “fixing” them afterwards. I think it’s a matter of an inevitable evolution that any photoediting software (no matter which one) is used in the daily workflow … just like we have no idea what the future will bring for us. I think that mankind in general are a bit afraid of changes to what we know and that make some people act like this. We’ve seen it before and we will see it in the future too … and not only within the photography bussiness.

  103. Personally I just long for the days Photoshop is affordable!!!!

    Yes yes, I know there are other options out there (I use GIMP and am currently trying Lightroom), but given that so much time goes into explaining Photoshop and all the cool things you can do with it, it would be nice to be almost able to justify it!

  104. Photoshop isnt a bad word. I adjust contrast & make sure color is correct on every news photo. Call it a digital photo illustration if it is. Dont change pixels on news. That said,…
    I also use Photoshop (among others) as a “paint brush” for art works. 2 totally different things. Add Graphic Design to that list of things I do with Photoshop while we’re at it.

  105. I am 72 and spent years breathing in chemicals to turn my negatives into the image I previsuaized when I exposed my film. I now suffer from COPD caused by the breathing in of these chemicals. Today I am 100% digital and do all my darkroom work in photoshop. I agree that your original exposure should be as close to perfect as you can get it…..focused and sharp (a tripod a must to eliminate camera shake), excellent choices of f stop and shutter speed for the image, proper white balance, and good exposure. Hip HIp Hurray! for digital and photoshop. What do you think Ansel Adams would be using today?

  106. Is still a Scott Kelby blog? Sorry Scott… We miss you! (thanks Matt, great post..)

  107. Hi Matt,

    I think I would have to agree with your point about the hatred coming from inexperience. The fashion and beauty industry also have a lot to do with peoples perception of Photoshop.

    I my opinion the ability to be a good re-toucher and photographer is no different from 20 years ago when you were thought to be a master photographer when you could take the shot and make a great print in the darkroom. In our day and age its essential to have experience in working with Photoshop if you are a photographer.

    Some photographers just need to learn when to stop and not to go over board with effects, for example when retouching skin and eyes lots of photographers over cook things. I think there is a fine line that cannot and should not be crossed. The best kind of Photoshop work is the kind that no one else can see.

  108. Not using photoshop or the other software available to us today is like cutting down a tree with a stone axe. Photoshop is a tool and a creative uses it as such and can create wonderful images that were impossible just a short time ago.

    The amusing thing is, I have on several occasions recently been subjected to “rants’ from photographers against photoshop and “getting it right” in the camera, while I just listened quietly, not wanting to argue about it, (life is too short).

    When I took the time to view their images, funny thing, they didn’t come close to getting it right in the camera, yet if they possessed just a few basic photoshop skills, they could have greatly improved their images.

    No, photoshop is not a “dirty word” it’s a creative revolution, it gives us a color/b&w darkroom on our computers and so much more in terms of creative power.

    Thanks for the interesting post Matt!

  109. Just like photography has evolved from film cameras to now digital so has the way pictures are ‘developed’. Photoshop is just a tool as is that great new lens to get a better shop and to get a step up on the competitors. Stand proud and say that you use Photoshop and any new thing that comes out because I give 100% to my customers! Don’t you?? Thanks Matt

  110. You said it Matt, Photoshop is an essential tool in photography today. It is the darkroom of the digital age which is here to stay, sorry film guys…deal with it. Just like knowing how to process in the darkroom in the old film days you should know Photoshop for todays market. I’ve heard people talk in an arrogant tone about the use of Photoshop and on another end people have wanted surrealistic effects only Ps can deliver. It is a worthwhile investment and a powerful and essential tool… just a tool. Once you know how to wield it the results are phenomenal and your attitude will change. I’m 32 and I started out in film as well, I was never fond of chemicals and I’m not going back. Digital is not as easy as some would like to say it is. It is what it is and it’s work…on a different level. All it takes is hanging up a little pride and taking initiative to evolve your craft to stay competitive and relevant in todays market. Thanks for writing this blog Matt, you said it all.

  111. Great article, Matt. I think the Photoshop creates all those bad feelings bordering agression in many people in response to other many people saying “I will fix it later in Photoshop”. I guess you are right- there needs to be a balance, yes, each image should be retouched some, and yes, sometimes it is quicker/cheaper to fix it later and sometimes it is quicker to get it right in the camera. If both “lovers” and “haters” stop being extremist, maybe the phrase “Photoshopped image” will stop being a negative.

  112. I’ve been shooting photos since 1952. Nikon, Pentax, Leica, Hassalblad, Canon…cameras of all sizes and formats. I never had a lab. Work always went out. Now? Photoshop and Lightroom with an array of plugins. I’ve never enjoyed photography as much as I am now. Never! I love having access to a lab where I can handle the half of the photo the camera left for me to work on. Digital Labs rule.

  113. Photoshop gets a bad name only when it’s used poorly.

  114. I agree with you but I think this answers only to the photographers criticizing photoshop without knowing it – or to the photographer community. (Well I guess it’s obviously normal on a blog about photography :-). My concern is more about the generalization of fixes, turning people into unreachable models. The cult of the beautiful is no problem for people who knows that it is part of a dream but many people grow up with complexs about these magasine pictures, trying to look like something unreachable. Of course Photoshop is just a tool that makes all that glitter work easier, and the latter debate would be way larger than Photoshop. I just thought it would have been good to briefly point out that angle of the debate too instead of just focusing on the discussion about the “bad word” amongst the photography community.

  115. Whether it’s a photographic image, a graphic design, a stage design, my clients primary concern is the result. They don’t hold me to some arbitrary standard on the process. They want an image that meets their objectives. My concern is to meet those objectives in a timely manner. I will use the best tools to achieve both those results. What gives the me the creative juice I need and what gets me their the fastest? I’ve got miles to go before I sleep.

  116. I’m with Levi (above). I’m 60 years old and could never get what I wanted from my film photography because, as a hobbyist I didn’t have the money or time to build a darkroom, and as much as I wanted to do more, I just couldn’t. Now, I have the results I’ve wanted and things just keep getting better as I evolve and digital processing improves. What’s the difference whether I spent hours in a darkroom or at the computer? Its all artistic and technical skill. N

  117. Is all this really necessary, just do your thing whatever it be and be done with it.

  118. Love being able to control output, in camera and out of it as well.

    That’s what it’s all about is an end image.

    my $.02

    Only time I think it’s bad to PS alter something is when it’s used to nefariously deceive where integrity of subject is in order – but for simple graphic representation, go for it.

  119. If only we could have stopped Ansel Adams from all that burning and dodging. We could have kept him honest.

    I took a picture of an airplane on setup day at the Sun `n Fun air show in Lakeland, Fla. There were trucks and boxes in the background, so I selected the airplane, and blurred the background. The verdict? Various editors at work accused me of Photoshopping the picture, altering the truth and basically being a lying, tricky journalist despite my Northwestern MSJ degree.

  120. I think people that bad mouth Photoshop are just jealous that our pictures look better than theres do..lol I probably wouldn’t have gotten into photography if it wasn’t for my Dad showing me how to use Photoshop and all the cool things you can do with your images in it. Everything I do goes through Lightroom but the important ones are always finished in Photoshop.

  121. Matt,

    Oh man. I didn’t see you sitting in the back row during my workshop last week. When did your flight get in at IAH? You should have said something and I would have stopped going on and on about doing things “in camera” rather than “in post”. Dude, I sincerely apologize and promise to renew my Kelby Training subscription first thing next week. Next time just hit me over the head with that D300s!

    (Kidding Matt, really!)

    Jeff :-)

  122. I liked this essay,
    It is something I have been talking about for years. I’m one of those who grew up with photoshop but I did learn black and white film processing. Photoshop is a vital tool these days and I think it’s simply a digital darkroom.
    Whoever thinks only taking an image is the end all needs to check the history of photography. Most images in the early days were composites because of the limitations of the camera tech. back then. Nowadays the “limit” has been raised really high but real world physics still limits the camera. That’s where photoshop comes in where we can take an imagine and make magic.
    It’s a fact in the history of Art too that we as humans tend to idealize or exaggerate reality in our works. Photography is just the latest art form to enter that realm with “imaginary colors” in LAB mode in photoshop to HDR etc.

    Is a painting any less a painting if it has colors more vivid than it’s subject in reality?

    Not trying to rival your essay Matt, just a topic close to my heart :D

    Aeron

  123. Superb post Matt!!!
    Photoshop is definitely NOT a bad word however it is very much a misunderstood word. It’s amazing how the minute some people hear that you’ve used Photoshop on an image that they then put less credit towards the photography. I guess we’d all be retired and living on a sun drenched beach sipping on cold beers by now if we’d been paid £1 ($1) for every time someone had said … “Geez, you must be really good at Photoshop”.

    I used to feel the need to almost argue the point that it’s not down to Photoshop and you have to have a good image to start with; not I tend to post ‘before and after’ shots on my blog so that they can see for themselves what the starting point was.

    But you know what, when all is said and done…so what! So what if Photoshop has been used! It’s 2010 for Christ’s sake! The next thing we’ll know is that these ‘nay sayers’ are slating the use of strobes with a view that photography is all about using natural light. Well to those guys I simply have to say…’Photography is about creating an image and today (to a point) Photoshop is Photography just as the darkroom was back in the days of film.

    Cheers,
    Glyn

  124. It is not a coinsidence that you`re called ROcking the Housky (rock)

    I love your work, and the work and tv shows of all the photoshop guys .. keep up the good work .. and i wish you all the very best

  125. Yawn. This argument IS getting a bit tired. But thank you so much for eloquently stating why post processing SHOULD be a part of digital images.

    I saw an exhibit of SOOC photographs lately…and they were sucky bcs they badly needed a black point set. They were printed really large (longest side about a meter or yard) and they were and hanging in a museum!

    I also attended a workshop where I saw a lot of amateur photographer’s portfolios and some of the older ‘stuck’ guys were very prejudiced against any post-processing. Now if I can just figure out how that one guy who claimed his pictures were SOOC DID set a black point in camera (or was it in the printing process?)…Can a Nikon do that? Bcs I’m not aware of if a Canon can.

    – Nancy

  126. Great post. Thanks for sharing your point with us. I agree 100%. I love the creative process with both shooting pictures and “fixing” them afterwards.

  127. Hallelujah! :)

    You have perfectly summed up my feelings on the matter. I get bored of hearing the snobby refrain of ‘I like to get it right in camera not use Photoshop’. If you have a great photo only spoiled by some key flaw that can be easily fixed in PS, why would you not use it?

  128. Bravo, Matt! Excellent article!

    When talking about digital photography, the whole idea of “getting it right in the camera” is a nonsensical argument. When shooting in JPEG, then the camera is using its own firmware to ‘develop’ the image. No matter which camera is used, the onboard software has very restricted functionality (few features, rough granularity for each setting) compared to the full copy of Photoshop. When shooting in RAW, the camera saves the ‘non-developed’ data for use in Photoshop instead of the onboard software. It should be a no-brainer which one will deliver better results.

    As for the comparison between film and digital, let’s see how film-based “photo purists” answer these questions:

    – When making a print with the enlarger, do you set the light to full power for a few seconds, or drop the intensity and leave it on longer?
    – Do you adjust perspective by tilting the base of your enlarger?
    – Does your enlarger contain any filters?
    – Are there any light-colored or reflective objects near your enlarger?
    – What brand of paper do you use?
    – What brand of developer? At what concentration? At what temperature?
    – What is the ambient temperature of your darkroom?
    – How many prints do you run before changing out your developer?
    – What brand of stop bath and fixer do you use? At what temperature and concentration?
    – Do you tone your prints with selenium? Why or why not?

    Every one of those choices WILL affect the finished image, and aside from suggestions from the companies who made the chemicals, paper, or equipment, there are no “right answers” for how you should use them. And the best part: Photoshop emulates every one of those features (and more!)

    ..maybe the have a problem with the “and more” part, who knows?

  129. While I don’t feel that “Photoshop” is a bad word, sometimes I get confused as to whether it is a noun or a verb.

  130. Yo Matt,
    You know what I ask the camera brethern on the set? “Film…yeah that’s the Sh*t on your teeth”. Oh I crack myself up, better get back to shooting, you don’t want those dead guys walking away before I shoot them.

  131. Ahh Matt, you make me smile and thanks for taking the time to write about this taboo subject. Your unemotional explanation of the fear of the unknown (photoshop) is simply brilliant. I’ve been both praised and feared for my use of photoshop in my fine art imagery over the years. I’m exhausted by it! I suffer from the same weariness over boorish sentiments from ‘purist’ photographers about the good old days of film. My shopping skills are no different from the countless hours I used to spend in the dark room dodging and burning my prints, toning and double exposing. There’s a reason the photoshop tool symbols mimic darkroom tools! It’s a natural transition in the evolution of technology and for those still afraid of photoshop, there are still plenty of dark rooms for you to work your magic in! I’ll see you in a few years on a pretty mac void of toxic chemicals and strained eyesight. Thanks again!

  132. Good points well put, you should include light room in there as well though!

  133. It may be a bad word to some, but that doesn’t diminish Photoshop and Lightroom’s importance in todays digital workflow. As a semi-pro/hobbyist, Photoshop and programs like it have brought great pictures where none otherwise existed. Does get it right in the camera mean get it right in the camera or not at all? That attitude smacks of arrogance in the extreme sense.

    I will never be ashamed of my process and neither should anyone else.

  134. I think photography is about storytelling and vision. < and that's "photo purist."

    Maybe that live demonstration was trying to point the abuse of any tool, in this case "Photoshop".

    The best photographers I know don't discuss too much about tools, they just get the work done. They deliver an amazing narrative, a strong eye contact and a great concept.

  135. No more than a year ago, I would have agreed with this post in its entirety, but I can’t anymore. My thoughts can be fairly well summed up with this: Photoshop is not a bad word, but it’s not a good word either.

    “Personally, for photographers, I think it’s 100% necessary if you want to compete today. Technology has changed everything. The world knows that Photoshop exists. The standards by which photography was judged, even just 10 years ago, don’t hold up against today’s standards. We expect more from a photo.”

    That is what I disagree with most in this article. Of course it will depend on your photographic style, but in general, I don’t believe that people “expect more from a photo” than they used to…. The point of a photograph as an artistic medium is to move the viewer emotionally; I don’t think that has ever changed. I mean, if people do judge photography by higher standards than they used to, why are so many of us still mesmerized by the photographic greats, such as Ansel Adams, and Richard Avedon? The standard remains unchanged: it is emotional impact, and that can be achieved with OR without the use of post-processing.

    Some of my favorite independent photographers (such as Megan McIsaac) do not use Photoshop at all, and as a Photoshop user myself, I’m inspired by that. While I am cognizant of the fact that photography is never a true documentation of reality (read myth #1: http://bythom.com/myths.htm), I still feel that there is something to be said for those who can create beautiful, powerful images using only their camera(s).

  136. I think many people get hung up on being a photographer – as opposed to being an artist or an image maker. The word photography implies a technology which didn’t used to include Photoshop even if it did might have implied darkroom techniques. Personally I make images and it is therefore wholly legitimate to use whatever tools I have available. Photoshop is just one of those tools. And one that I love dearly.

    I agree with the last part of your post where you say that you love the post processing as much as the initial picture taking. Absolutely. Why should it be otherwise?

  137. Great Article !Oh I have had trouble with the ‘Photoshop’ ‘Lightroom’ tag, and try so hard to get it right in Camera, being a purist of the old school. And wish some would still consider light more….but thanks for letting us off the hook a bit… And I don’t miss the headaches from the chemicals in the darkroom, and the guilt of the running water for hours on fibre based paper in a drought country….but we loved the magic of the emerging print, and the red light, and rock music in the special room! in fact my kids thought it was a secret disco! Thanks Matt, always so generous in your thoughts!

  138. Nice article Matt…and I basically agree 100%. But there is another aspect…

    Let me preface my comment: I started using PS6 and have upgraded through most versions to the current day.

    Now to my point. I am involved in software development and for years, even as a user, I have used PhotoShop as a classic example of how NOT to design a user interface. As my own expertise and resources grew…and especially through the CS3/4 improvements…I have modified my view slightly but not much. I am very interested in what Adobe are doing with the layers palettes in CS6.

    The challenge is that the PhotoShop UI is really designed assuming an expert user with a few confusing extras dropped in to appease the novice. Additionally a lot of the educational press make the same assumption without realising it.

    For example MANY of the adjustement types could actually be dropped completely leaving Curves to stand alone as the foundation of all them…which of course it is. The dropped in extras may be easier for novices but actually end up providing so many ways of doing things that the novice is confused more then helped. Elements helps quite a bit but cuts out a little too much; Paint Shop Pro is a better mid-ground but does not have the critical mass of after-market support for learning resources. And so on.

    Keyboard shortcuts are another example. Some articles come across as little more than “here’s a bunch of cool keyboard shortcuts relevant to my theme”. For a long time this irritated me intensly…then I bought a tablet! OK, now I get it. As an advanced user with a pen in my hand the keyboard shortcuts are a HUGE timesaver. But even today the majority of amateur users are using a mouse…they will mostly be thinking “just tell me what menu item to use to do the thing…I can find the shortcut if I really feel the need”. The focus on shortcuts actually gets in the way of one community but really helps another. And as most authors belong to the latter group it makes PS a high inertia product. IT IS DIFFICULT TO LEARN…which is great for those making money teaching, writing about it of course. But it does lend to the perception of it being a dirty word.

    I have clients that see the before and after of some simple touch-up that think some sort of voodoo is at work. Joe Public, on the whole, are still used to the idea that a photograph is a visual record…and for them it is…so Photoshop is synonymous with enabling “lying” via photography. Even the joking around dropping of someones head on another body and so on propogates this.

    PhotoShop is just a tool. It can be used positively and negatively. To paraphrase from another contentious tool:

    “PhotoShop doesn’t lie, people using PhotoShop sometimes do!!”

    Alistair

  139. When I hear the word “Photoshop” I think of of all the photos of models that have been altered to make them look better, skinner, prettier, or what ever they do to them. the world of modeling is FAKE it makes our children see that stuff and try to live up to what they see. Which we know is impossible. Photoshopping in this manner can make a photo unrealistic and just down right FAKE! Unless that is what you are going for… is this sense… its a bad word to me.

    Now on the other hand using Photoshop to alter a photo to make subtle changes to improve the picture is not a bad thing….sharpen back lighting, gamma correction, contrast, ect… are all good things and now days a necessity for photographs because we expect more from a photo. I used to be anti-photoshop, but I now see a need for it… as long as its not overdone. It not such a bad word as I once thought.

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