When I first started with digital photography, I never edited my photos. I was happily shooting on auto mode with my point and shoot and assumed the camera was doing everything right. I was so excited about the ease and speed with which I could shoot and then share my photos with friends and family. I didn't see the point in putzing around on the computer any more than I had to, it seemed like a waste of time!
When I first started shooting in manual mode with my DSLR, I spent a considerable amount of effort getting things right "in camera." I thought that by using custom white balance and nailing perfect exposure of an image in a "near perfect" setting would prevent the need to edit my photos. I definitely had the opinion that if I had to rely on editing to make my image perfect than I had to be doing something wrong as a photographer.
Then I finally caved and took a Lightroom 101 workshop. Now you will almost never seen an image of mine posted online that hasn't been given a final polish with this amazing program. I don't swap heads, erase lightposts in the background, or any kind of magazine cover style airbrushing or wrinkle removing. What do I do? I tweak my white balance, I nudge the exposure, I increase my blacks and add a little vibrancy to make the image pop. If I have to shoot with a high ISO I might reduce the noise a little bit. Sometimes I run one of my favorite presets from the Paparazzi Presets collection from ClickinMoms. They are small changes overall that give me great big results.
I don't feel guilty, I don't feel like I'm not a good enough photographer, I don't feel like I'm cheating in any way. In fact, I see my time spent in Lightroom as one of the biggest differentiating factors between my current level of skill and my prior work. In fact, the compliment that I received most recently that made me smile is being told by a few of you that my "10 on 10" project from March looked cohesive. Part of it is my shooting style is finally developing but mostly it is the editing!
It's been a while since I thought about this. When I saw this fantastic guest piece on MCP Action's blog this morning, I thought maybe this would be a great time to bring the topic up with Project 2012 participants. I absolutely love her comparison of post processing to makeup. It is a nearly perfect analogy!
Are you editing your project photos? Which program do you prefer to use? Have you found your editing style or are you still experimenting?
If you're not editing, what's holding you back? Do you think it is cheating? Time? Don't know where to start? Lack of funds for software? (Lightroom 4 was just released and it is now available at 50% the cost that Lightroom 3 used to be sold for. Now is a fantastic time to look into this program if you want a user-friendly place to start.)
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!