Why Do Photographers Hate Photoshop?
According to what I’ve been noticing in a lot of the comments posted here on Fstoppers, there seems to be plenty of photographers who absolutely hate Photoshop. So lets have a bit of a discussion.
Technology has become part of everything in our lives. Cars get better and better. Phones have become portable and are now the size of a credit card. Speaking of credit cards, you barely even have to carry cash anymore – just swipe and be on your way. Records were replaced by tapes, which were replaced by CDs and then the iPod replaced everything. Hell, I can’t remember the last time I got a written letter instead of an email. All of these technological advances have come along and made our lives better and easier with hardly any complaints. I hardly ever hear anyone complain that their entire music library fits in their pocket, or that they can now communicate across the globe in just seconds.
There’s been an even greater impact in what some of us have chosen as a career path. Computers make running our businesses easier, social media makes our advertising easier, and it seems every year cameras come out that make the ones we’re already using seem like paperweights. No one complains about any of these advances, but go ahead and use Photoshop, an absolutely amazing piece of software, to enhance your images and out comes an army of tin foil hat wearing purists clutching their Kodak Brownies (or at least thats how I like to imagine them).
Why is there such a problem with using software to retouch and enhance images? It was done in the darkroom with film, the “digital darkroom” is just an extension of that. Before we get into an argument over bad retouching, let’s only consider good retouching for the time being. These are the results the software was designed for and not the over-processed messes that are frequently brought up in the arguments against Photoshop.
Are we on the same page now? Good.
I’ll start with my take on it.
I am all for Photoshop. Before I get accused of having never shot film, relax, I started with a Mamiya 645 PRO TL, which I still own today. In college, I learned to shoot, develop, and print my own film. I still shoot and appreciate film and enjoy being very technical with my lighting. That being said, I am a Professional Commercial Photographer in a digital age and I will use ANYTHING available to create a good product. I don’t live by “fix it in post” which is another accusation made by the anti-Photoshop army, but I do know when I can employ it. Let’s face it some things are 110% out of our control. What’s the big problem with now being able to at least fix it?
Commercial Photography is driven by perfection and it seems this perfection is what drives many against Photoshop. Let’s be real for a second though. If we were to get rid of retouching for one whole year … absolutely no retouching allowed in any advertising for an entire year, could you imagine what our world would look like? I promise sales in every industry, from cars to jewelery, to clothes, and everything in between would plummet.
In any industry, you have to adapt to changes in technology or you’ll get phased out. That holds true even in Photography. With so many people competing for so few jobs you have to set yourself apart from the crowd and stay memorable to clients. Why not have some knowledge of Photoshop in your arsenal? The more you know how to do the more valuable you’ll be.
It just seems so odd to me that some photographers can harbor so much hate for something that was designed to make their lives easier. It’s like the firefighters’ union being offered trucks and hoses and replying, “no thanks, we’re good with the buckets of water we’ve already got.”
Even today as I write this there are multiple posts on the Fstoppers Facebook page that have comments like, “Photoshopped.” What does that even mean?! Of course it is! Why would you deliver anything to a client that’s less than perfect? There’s even a post about Annie Leibovitz’s Disney portraits with a comment, “20% on set, 80% in PS”, which if anyone bothered to watch the behind the scenes video they could see is untrue. Annie is known for the quality of her light. Obviously its run through Photoshop to achieve her look, but it still starts with beautifully lit images which is totally visible in the video. Sometimes it seems like a lot of these complaints come from people that are upset they can’t achieve the same. Can’t light like Annie and retouch like her retoucher? Then it’s far easier to just hate on her and call it Photoshopped than to work on your lighting and learn the software.
Anyway, I’ve given you my thoughts, now I want to hear yours. I’m opening this to a full discussion in the comments below. I’m not looking to argue with anyone, let’s all get along and have an adult discussion about our opinions for and against image editing software. I’ll go through them and follow this post up next week with a collection of the best opinions.