Years ago, images manipulation was an alchemical practice that only a few insiders, with years of darkroom experience, could practice to bring your photos to the next level.
With the advent of digital cameras and the many existing software, post production is now practically available to everyone, and even enthusiasts can certainly achieve excellent results.
But we still need to analyze the ethical aspect of this topic, for those who makes photography a profession.
Those opposed to post-production.
I smile when I hear statements, both by amateurs and professionals, like “all of my pictures are straight out of camera”, or “pictures of the photographer XY are beautiful, but they are post processed and produced”, or even “Photography is such only if not processed “or more “Photography is such only on film “…
These fundamentalist positions have no foundation, they lack of respect for the intelligence of the listener, and in the case of professional photographers, of respect towards our customers. Post production alone certainly does not make photography, but nowdays is an essential tool to bring our pictures, to the standards our customers expect.
Would you ask never a surgeon to not operate with a laser, if they could do, in favor of a traditional scalpel? Today, to claim a photographer must not appeal to post production, has the same sense of asking a painter to not use brushes, spreading colors only with fingers!
A good photograph is a good photograph.
In the same way I condemn extremisms of opposites to post production, I completely disagree with its excessive use or abuse, which unfortunately I often see in many jobs. For many it is tempting to be lulled into “late I will do the post production”, to justify a photo that has failed: a good image can become great if properly post produced, but on the contrary, it will never happen that a picture bad can become decent thanks to post-production, as far as it can be processed.
It ‘absolutely necessary to improve our in camera artistry and knowledge, before improving our post-production techniques.
Ethics and honesty in post production.
Wedding photography is a specialty in which digital image manipulation is allowed and usually brings improvements in terms of quality. But there are more serious application areas, where people have died for taking an image. In photojournalism, inappropriate or a maliciously use of post production can certainly open the door to reality manipulation, for private or personal purposes. It is no coincidence that since last year, Reuters prohibits to send images that have been manipulated starting from a raw file (digital negative), only accepting jpg images, directly taken straight out of camera.
Fortunately, wedding photography tell of happy times and not of great tragedies, but in any case I think our post production needs to be “honest”, making a single picture more beautiful, in its originality and authenticity, improving its contrast and color toning, to enhance the emotions and all the other contents, already available in the image.
Wedding photography, certainly allows us some degrees of freedom compared to the work of a photo reporter, allowing us to remove part of the “reality”, to create an “ideal” version to fit our vision: my battles to remove high voltage pylons and road signs from our Tuscany countryside landscapes are now historic. I can not deliver to any of our brides a photo of Tuscany hills, disfigured by a crane or a power line!
A finished work.
Without post production, I would feel to deliver an unfinished work.
Every bride has dreamed of that moment for so long and in a single day of their life, they have been princesses and queens: I can not help but think that each of them deserves to be celebrated as such by our photographs, enhancing their reality, creating memories that transcend the ordinary, giving them a photography experience that’s bigger than life.