Warning: 10 Deadly Post Processing Sins

Warning: 10 Deadly Post Processing Sins

Picture 80First of all, I have to thank Darren, and this wonderful DPS community for supporting our family through the illness and death of our son. We are deeply and profoundly grateful to each of you. THANK YOU. Not really a way to segue from that. I won’t try. 🙂

This post is all in the name of good fun. These are over the top SNL esque examples. Please don’t be offended.

1. Don’t buy photoshop right out of the gate.

Nothing concerns me more than “photographers” who delve into photoshop around the same time they delve into photography. These are what we call “photoshopographers.” I’m certain I didn’t invent the term. It floats around the industry like crazy. For example, “How’s her work?” Response: “She a photoshopographer.”

If you jump into photoshop (or any other editing software for that matter) too soon, you run the risk of not mastering your technique as a photographer. You’ll quickly form the habit of masking otherwise poor work with excessive editing and that will hold you back from learning the proper technique to begin with. As I once heard photographer extraordinairre Zack Arias say, “If you find yourself out shooting a client and you’re sayin’ in your head ‘oh I’ll just fix that later in photoshop’ stop what you’re doing and slap yourself as hard as you can.'”

I didn’t purchase photoshop until after 2 solid years of paid work as a photographer, and I still don’t know how to use it. Truth be told, it’s literally embarrassing how very little I know.

2. Processing fads rhyme with “stay away for the love of all that is holy.”

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One of my main qualms with post processing is the color fads. These could be tonal, selective color (more on him later) or any et cetera. Anything that will likely not be popular in 5 or 10 (likely 1 or 2 in reality) years should be avoided. My goal for my work is timelessness. If an image is processed in a way that says: “wow! that was shot in 2009!” I’ve got a problem.’

Some of these things MIGHT be appropriate in moderation (not selective color. ever).

If wild tones are your selling points to clients and you’re booking well and getting paid bucketloads. . . then there’s obviously no reason to rethink your strategy! But as a general rule, if you’re going to do anything with tone: LOW OPACITY is the rule of thumb.

3. Radioactive eyes are so last season/

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4. Skin should not look like it was grafted from Barbie, Ken, or Skipper.

I’m all for giving eyes a little pop-o-la! But let’s try to keep it real. No one’s eyes are PERFECTLY white, nor do they emit a glow in a dark room.

Quite frankly, pictures with eyes that are over worked: creep.me.out.

I’m happy to touch up people’s blemishes, but there are certain features of someone’s face that are permanent. Part of who they are.

For regular portraiture (I recognize that fashion work is a different animal entirely), I would never completely remove someone’s wrinkles (unless they asked specifically that I do). Soften them? Probably. But remove them completely? No. It’s their face. It’s what they look like. Moles? Same story. Scars? Same, same. You know, you could actually offend someone by removing a “blemish” like a scar or a mole from their body. Unless they ASK (and trust me, if they want it gone, they will), I don’t go there.

In my work I’m going for real and genuine, and plastic skin? Well, it’s neither.

5. A heavy vignette does not a professional photograph make.

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A heavy vignette does not make a photograph look more professional. (Tail between my legs) I used to think so too.

The opposite is in fact true. Ask any TRUE professional photographer and they will tell you, a heavy vignette is a sure fire sign of an amateur trying to go pro.

6. Just say “NO” to over saturation.

No image necessary. . . Just.say.no.

7. Selective coloring died circa 1990.

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I know I mentioned it above, but it definitely necessitates its own category. The picture says it all.

PS. Tell me you’ve read Twilight?

8. Don’t make your clients look dead.

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It’s disgusting.

9. Fake Sunflare . . . looks fake. and stupid.

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I’m not going to lie, I’ve enhanced sunflare before (many moons ago) when IT WAS ALREADY PRESENT IN THE PHOTOGRAPH to begin with. But don’t take a picture WITHOUT it and try to ADD it in. It makes you look like a ding dong.

10. Textures? I’ve only ever seen a hand full of photographers who can really pull them off.

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I am hesitant to include this last one because I am a huge fan of several photographers who create lovely work with textures. Textures can be cool, BUT an image should never be blatantly SLAMMED with texture. Bleh.

Disclaimer: Don’t hate me. These are obviously EXTREME examples. Everything has it’s place in moderation. This post is truly just a satire. Me poking fun at and industry to which I belong, and that I love.

I recognize that post processing is incredibly individual. For a lot of people, what happens in post is an extension of their art. Hold on to what makes sense to you artistically! By all means. I would NEVER want to discourage someone from creating their art! Really, these are simply things I personally WISH I would have thought of going in. I’m guilty of many of them myself. A lot of my older work is embarrassing to me because I broke some of these very rules early on.

Don’t be ashamed if you’re doing some of the stuff listed above! ANY true pro you love and respect was likely guilty of much of the same early in their careers! And again and again and again: if it truly floats your boat?! Who the heck am I to stand in your way!!!!??? Selective color on my friend selective color on!

Happy Shooting! . . . and processing!

Read more from our Post Production category

Natalie Norton is a writer and a lifestyle wedding and portrait photographer who shoots across the globe. She is based off of the North Shore of Oahu and out of Gilbert, Arizona. Enjoy more of her photography and writing at www.natalienortonblog.com. You can also connect with Natalie via Twitter or on Facebook.

Some Older Comments

  • Nabil Stendardo December 17, 2012 04:07 am

    I must admit I am typically guilty of point 4 (especially for female portraits). I open Lightroom and use an adjustment brush in order to select skin, and then clarity -100. I also sometimes add Clarity +100 to hair, is that a sin as well.

    Nowadays, point 2 is so much relevant. I see so many people ruining already bad photos using Instagram and they think it's brilliant processing. The fact that I can say Instagram almost immediately after I see a shot one of my friends posted on Facebook tells me something.

    Concerning point 1, if you have used Photoshop to turn a bad shot into a masterpiece, it's not photography, it's digital painting. You might have started with a hand-drawn sketch, the result would have been the same.

  • Peter Griffin December 5, 2012 02:18 am

    I do not agree with this article even though I do get the point and in specific way it is true. But in my opinion ... :

    1) Buying a camera is not a cheap invest furthermore the equipment and lens. We all could spend more than 2 years saving just to make a great photo without ANY need for post-production.

    2) Some of these examples are really exgratuated and not used on a type of photo that iwould fit it. Several of these effect are never going to be out of fashion - light vignette, vintage colors - just like sepia or B&W.

    3 & final point ) We CAN ALL be creative.And I do not judge people who do it through cooking or sewing, photographing or photoshoping. So many awesome wallpapers - fanthasy, nature, zen are made by photomanipulation. And I do bow in front of these people who are awesomly skilled & creative in doing it.

  • Afrancisco October 22, 2012 05:13 pm

    What? Warning: 10 Deadly Post Processing Sins? Here is some very famous photographers that are using PS or other tools like

    Manny Librodo - Just type in google his name and you will see his awesome photos using PS.

    Sue Brcye - Also a very famous photographer

    Lindsay Adler - Also a famous photographer

    now a days there are tons of different photographers with different styles and objectives, and different ways to show photos to the world.

  • George Beltzhoover March 22, 2012 01:08 pm

    That's one of the skills needed to be able to use the digital tools. If we over-process and forget the inherent contrast problems with the digital media we will create unrealistic images. There is no substitute for good skills which are only developed with a great deal of effort and some time. I'd love it if a camera manufacturer would develop a sensor that would naturally give us the smooth tones of well-exposed film (especially b&w), but until that time, it's pretty tough to eliminate Photoshop or other editing software. Just new tools for a new age.

  • beth March 22, 2012 11:04 am

    Most photographers only think they're good if they have a 300 mm lens which dare i say it, a substitute for something else. Film is way superior to digital as is vinyl to digital. The problem with digital pictures is that they just dont look real. Anyone with a digital camera and CS5 can call themselves a photographer. But if were given a Praticka SLR with a few rolls of film- they'd be like... 'hey what's an aperture'!!!!

  • MSP February 8, 2012 04:43 pm

    I laughed at this one! (((((: But yeah, there are some points which are agreeable, that post-processing should not be the top priority of a photographer, and I thought most pro photog's are one-shot perfect without the help of post-processing. Anyway, thanks for the blog post! (:

  • kelly January 26, 2012 06:21 am

    i'm not sure which is more entertaining...the 10 "don'ts" or the number of disclaimers you have so you don't get ripped to shreds by readers!!!

    thanks for the laughs...

  • Ford January 12, 2012 12:49 pm

    I am terrible with Photoshop because I don't use it enough and I have a friend who probably owned the first copy ever sold. He is almost too good.

    After his divorce a lady he was dating asked him to show her how Photoshop worked so he made her look about 15-years younger. She got mad and dumped him because he "didn't like the real her"!

    So use my strategy; if you are not good ag photoshop, find something to trade with someone who is!

  • Jessica December 20, 2011 07:59 am

    this made me laugh so much! Especially the part about selective color, because my clients ask for it ALL the time, no lie. nearly ever single one requests it.

  • Julie Holland December 5, 2011 10:42 am

    what amuses me is how photoshop gets demonized (rightly so with the way some people use it) yet Ansel Adams would spend hour upon hour editing in the darkroom to get the effects from his shots. There is no difference today, its just some people are better at it than others.

  • juniper December 4, 2011 11:17 pm

    i'm a noob in photoshop and the only thing i do with lightroom is vignettes and color correction the only heavy post process thingy that i really can do is HDR... :D

  • Garret Baquet November 11, 2011 03:58 pm

    Great thread. Thanks for reminding me of my sins! :)

    Regardless of what we call ourselves, how we catagorize our work or what technology we use... photoshop is merely a tool to craft an image that is intended convey meaning, interpret reality... we are simply storytellers.

    Hopefully the final image evokes the intended emotional response... not the amusement I get when I look through my archives at the amount of overprocessing I have done. :)

  • Diane Proper October 19, 2011 11:44 pm

    I am going into this from the opposite direction. I started my business by correcting, editing and restoring photographs that other photographers messed up and actually sold to clients. As strange as it may sound though, I do not, nor have I ever used Photoshop. I use a little known program called Corel Photopro. I find I can make changes without it looking "photoshopped". Since I got into the photo end myself, I try to edit as little as possible and have learned from seeing hundreds of BAD photos what not to do. One thing though....alot of people want the "quirky"...selective color or the bride and groom in the wineglass....so, you gotta give the client what they want....it's what pays the bills.

  • Julie Holland October 15, 2011 02:27 pm

    I lot a lot of fuss about nothing here. I agree with much of the original post although I think selective colouring gets a bad rap, there is a place and time for it. Also, I shoot raw, work in 16 bit tiff and sell my shots in jpeg, they do print up to huge good quality prints, so I don't get people saying that you cant use them for high end prints. I think its all about moderation in your processing. Using photoshop does not make you some sort of demon but it doesn't make you a pro either

  • Mjimenezphoto October 8, 2011 04:47 am

    Vignettes when used with caution in digital it's ok to a certain degree, I have a Holga 135 Bent Corners and the vignette effects created by the imperfections gives it an extra retro-ish look. I'd rather see vignettes than overcooked HDR's any day.

  • Troy D. Davidson September 18, 2011 12:47 pm

    PS: You left out...HIGH somewhere in your ranking....fake HDR...that looks like clown's vomit. LOL!

  • Troy D. Davidson September 17, 2011 03:13 am

    Troy D. Davidson, Photoshopographer! Yes, I finally have a designation...and share the company with Scott Kelby, Matt Kloslowski, Jill Greenberg, Dave Hill, George Fulton, Annie Leibovitz, and the rest of the pros. If you are indeed using little or no photoshop...using digital cameras....great luck with that. Can't wait to see YOUR feature magazine cover...or gain the clients who have the expectation of seeing their senior portrait, wedding shoot, or family portratis...matching such quality. Aloha!

  • Tiberman Sajiwan Ramyead September 15, 2011 04:28 am

    Common! Let's stay cool DPS folks! As an assiduous DSLR beginner (18 months now; latest upgrade Nikon D7000) I maintain - for beginners of course - that for the first 2 years solid, one should learn GETTING IT RIGHT IN CAMERA AND FORGE ON WITH IMPROVING COMPOSTION (a life long affair). I also view that post processing could soon reach that threshold stage of doing more harm than good, to the noble art of photography. Most of the ''great shots'' I contemplate are over processed.
    With genuine respect to the pros in our group; who knows, I might soon be joining the p.processing bandwagon!

  • Dee September 14, 2011 09:01 pm

    @Rob, please show me these "several very talented, very successful photographers that shoot jpeg", because ironically you cannot print high end quality with JPEG and so I would find it very hard to believe that these photographers are 'very successful'. I sell my images to magazines, and I can assure you that no magazine worth their salt would ever accept a JPEG image for publication because of it's inferior colour qualities (8 bit) and for it's compression. In fact if I sent a set of JPEG images to a photo editor they would probably laugh right in my face and reject them. JPEG is NEVER used for printing, it is used for internet and low resolution purposes. In addition to that, JPEG is processed for you whereas RAW is not, therefore the professionals use RAW because they can control everything about the image.

    Also @Rob, I learned photography through 35mm originally, then moved to 120mm and finally on to 5x4. I now work on a 120mm Hasselblad with a digital back. I learned photography in the dark room so don't you dare tell that I suck as a photographer.

  • michael September 14, 2011 11:37 am

    For rob:

    I agree with Dee.

    Your statement to "practice the art of photography the old way, get it right in the camera first" reveals your ignorance of of the entire process of producing a viable, marketable photograph whether it be lithograph or digital. You make this statement as though the greats didn't alter their photographs so that the viewer would better see what they had seen through the lens or with the naked eye. Read a book please.

    Whether the darkroom or Photoshop, post-processing is a necessary skill to be mastered.

    Is shooting in jpeg the holy-grail now?
    When making a piece of furniture can I not sand and stain it or must the raw wood, tooling marks and patina be visible for all to see? Although pickling wood was only a popular fad about ten years ago, every one admits that it was a pleasurable departure from the norm at the time. Yet, all wood-working fads aside, the best furniture is made from the best wood. And so it is with photographs.

    Let me ask you, when taking my photos, may I have your permission to ALTER the lighting on my subject prior to taking the photo? Can I lift the shadows or add specular high-lights with a dish? Am I allowed to soften the light with a brolly or a box? Must I use lens filters or can I use the dial on my digital camera to adjust for the color cast that the fluorescent light produces? What am I allowed to do oh great jpeg purist? Is not altering the lighting prior to the "click" just as much a sin as after.
    Is not "getting it right in the camera" simply understanding how to use shutter, aperture and sensor/film sensitivity? Big deal. That's camera 101. The true skill is in controlling the light prior to the shot and after during post-processing. That is where the professionals separate themselves from the masses.

    My point here is that YOU and those like you lack the skills to give the customer whatever they want whether it be fad or not. Therefore, you come up with this fanciful notion to "get it right in the camera first" not even recognizing the fact that whether fad or not, a "great" processed photo could never be "great" without getting it right in the camera first. Post-processing cannot make a bad photo good but it can make a good photo great.

    BUT, "great" to my 13 year old daughter is what your ilk consider faddish post-processing "sins". She loves that stuff. Is she and millions of other consumers wrong in liking the Photoshop effects? Hardly.
    You know what my 13 year old does not like? All the photos that my aunt took at her birthday party in jpeg format. They were true to the subject. They weren't altered. They weren't blurry. Everyone was accurately portrayed in the moment. But you wouldn't buy them, Vogue wouldn't buy them and neither would my 13 year old.
    You are not earthy and old school. You are not true to "the art" of photography. You are not a "purist". You are lazy and want to berate others who are not. The professional cares not for your vapid notions of purity rather they are only concerned with one thing and that is HOW DO I FEED MY FAMILY with this stupid box and lens.

    Shame on you.

  • Max September 14, 2011 10:06 am

    This original piece was intended as a light hearted take on using Photoshop 'over usage". it was amusing as well as illustrative of many post production pitfalls.

    It didn't say DON'T or you will punished y the Jazz Police, with your mouse finger forever in a splint.

    I made some comments very early on, hopefully keeping with the mood of the thing, and also my considered opinion.

    Somebody took exception and accused me of all sorts of, well, I still don't really understand what he was upset about. I responded quite strongly with a little bit of my professional resume to show that I wasn't talking through what I normally sit on. Since then I've followed but stayed away.

    Now anyone taking offence or taking this WAY too seriously, should read the original piece carefully. I got the joke. I also understood the subtext. Clever old me. :-)

    Just take is easy guys.

  • Rob September 14, 2011 09:38 am

    For all the arrogant people out there, read the original statement:

    "This post is all in the name of good fun. These are over the top SNL esque examples. Please don’t be offended."

    Then, for Dee, I know several very talented, very successful photographers that shoot jpeg's. Unlike some people that are "a working photographer and someone who is studying a masters in the art of photography ", they practice the art of photography the old way, get it right in the camera first. After shooting for over 30 years, with the honor of learning from some of the finest photographers in the world, I know a lot of college educated photographers that are very high on themselves and basically suck as photographers, get over yourself.

  • Mia September 14, 2011 01:00 am

    Selective coloring will NEVER be cool. It just shows you know how to select in photoshop. It's a gimmick to try to add pop to a crappy picture.
    Just hitting sepia? Also unforgivable.

    There are some people that are truly talented post processing and you'll NEVER catch them doing any of these fauxtography tricks. They also know how to take a solid picture. You can't photoshop a crappy picture into a good one, but you can photoshop a good picture into an awesome picture if you have an idea of what you'd like the finished product to look like.

  • Mia September 14, 2011 12:53 am

    @Jay - no you don't, not if it's going to ruin your portfolio. Sometimes they think they want trends from Glamour Shots at the mall circa 1993, but they're going to regret it when they want to reminisce about that time that they actually paid to have crappy effects done to their baby.
    I model and I'm not really supposed to have a say in the post processing of individual pictures. If I agree to a shoot, or even moreso, if I pay for a shoot, I trust the photographer's skill in producing quality images.

  • Dee September 14, 2011 12:15 am

    I have to say as a working photographer and someone who is studying a masters in the art of photography I find your post to be quite insulting to a huge number of photographers. Yes while your examples are over the top to make a point, I have to point out these some of these 'fads' you speak of are the biggest aesthetics in the industry right now. For example no. 2 which I like to call 'digital analogue' is being used in high end magazines now such as British Vogue, ID Magazine and LOVE magazine to name a few.

    Also, by telling people not to use Photoshop until they know their craft is a bizarre suggestion. You NEED Photoshop RAW processor to process your RAW files as without it there are just unprocessed data that cannot be visually seen. If you're not using it (or something like Adobe Lightroom which is a version of Photoshop) you're clearly shooting in JPEG and therefore I would question if you are in fact a professional photographer at all.

  • Trish Badger September 11, 2011 04:58 pm

    I was definitely guilty of a couple of those sins early on, but no more, thank goodness!

  • Kelly chance September 10, 2011 08:01 am

    Moderation is key to everything...too much of a good thing is never good ;)

  • Walter Hawn September 10, 2011 03:12 am

    You didn't even *mention* HDR. Occasionally useful but mostly a sin against nature.

  • Carlita September 9, 2011 01:42 pm

    It seems to me that only "professional" photographers who feel threatened by "fauxtographers" would even care about any of this stuff. If they were actually good and felt secure in their skills, why would they pay any attention to the gazillions of amateurs committing all these sins?
    Also, a little note on photos looking dated: check out some classic paintings, they all look dated, but who cares? We still love them.
    It's art. It's what you want it to be. No need to put down anyone different from you. I say let people do whatever they want and if they end up shooting themselves in the foot, it shouldn't matter to you. You really do just sound condescending here, like you're way, way cooler than anyone who ever tried these photoshop tricks. And like many, many other comments before mine, post-processing did not start with photoshop, it's existed as long as photography itself.

  • Holly September 8, 2011 11:30 pm

    Great advice here! When I first started out I had spent all my money on my camera with nothing leftover for Photoshop which I already knew how to use. I'm kind of grateful, it made me appreciate a more natural looking photograph. Now I only use it to touch up things out of place in the background and to touch up the brightness [the raw tools mostly].

    Everything you have mentioned here makes me cringe when I see it on Flickr or someone's "fauxtography" blog.

  • Mei September 8, 2011 10:52 pm

    I don't like using photoshop and I actually never really have (I don't even own it). Unfortunately, I am positive this is why in the wedding market I am less attractive. I took a lot of time learning how to take a great photo in a matter of a millisecond, I don't feel like I need to post-process. Oh, God, though... Senior Pictures, they always want the high contrast.

  • Gun photos September 4, 2011 07:58 am

    I find this article to be totally dumb and pointless. I agree that some of the "sins" u pointed out is a no no but who are we to sit here and say what's right and what's wrong? Every photographer has their style, if their photos rely on heavy editing in PS, then by all means do it. I myself don't use PS much only to remove unwanted distracting backgrounds or objects. If they rely on PS actions and textures, then use it! A few of my good friends are pro photographers and their style includes a lot of the PS editing and actions. And u know what? They're constantly busy, and they also have to hire additional photographers with the same kind of skills to deal with the work load.

    So for all the posters in here, despising photographers who uses PS to help edited their photos or use trendy actions, u sound really snobby, self-centered and conceded. Some even go as far as saying "they call themselves pro photographer but they rely heavily on post production work to "fix" their images. So what? Who cares! Life is short go out and shoot. If people are willing to pay you for your work, awesome! That means they like your photos and style enough to pay you. What are you going to say? I'm sorry I can't shoot for you cause a bunch of moron photographers on this blog said I shouldn't use PS to edit my photos and committed all these "sins". Last time I checked, you guys don't pay their bills or put food on their table. Everyone has their style, i don't critize your style, you shouldn't on mine nor theirs.

    Happy shooting or happy editing, whatever your style keep doing it, don't let anyone tell you "how to do things" what works for them doesn't necessarily work for you.

    Please excuse any grammatical errors or spellings in advance. English is not my first language and I'm studying in the US to be a photographer. Also I don't mean to despise any photographers or lash out at anyone but everyone is their own artist. I don't think it's very professional for anyone to tell other photographers what they should or shouldn't use or do.

  • paul August 28, 2011 09:20 pm

    i have seen so many photographer do some of the listed sins but still the cilents seem to love there work, like eyes that are radioactive and skin that makes them look like a porcelain doll .

  • Tiberman Sajiwan Ramyead August 2, 2011 04:23 am

    I am a DSLR beginner - 2 years on now. I COULD NOT AGREE MORE WITH NATALIE. Techniques and composition are my priority - especially composition which I now realize is a lifelong affair.
    Natalie, your comments are candid and refreshing.
    Tiberman - Mauritius

  • Blad July 29, 2011 02:00 am

    You just described how 99.9% of wedding photographers post process photos. lol

  • Michael May 3, 2011 10:31 am

    Vicki, your talent with the written word is quite refined.
    Thanks for the clarity. I couldn't agree more.

  • Michael May 3, 2011 10:31 am

    Vicki, your talent with the written word is quite refined.
    Thanks for the clarity. I couldn't agree more.

  • Vicki Lynne May 2, 2011 09:33 am

    I have been shooting for over 30 years. Digital is great in many ways, but has created more work for me in so many ways. I am a master black & white printer and many of my talents I learned with film are definitely valuable for digital. I use great equipment, and it's been my experience that on camera flash photography cheap or expensive, white balance or not, is not consistant. Therefore photoshop and several other post processing software(s) are unavoidable and a necessary part of todays post processing cycle. I hate post processing. However without it my pictures in this scenario would not be consistant. So I must figure out how to ger better at it and faster.

    The filter the camera processes through adds a little softness and with just a hair of sharpness a perfect photo emerges. And then in a low light situation there is noise... I minimize my noise... when necessary. These nuances and others that require post processing make the difference between amature photos and professional ones. It's how we as photographers react to any photograph and what it need from us who breathe the very life into our images using all the tools we have in our artillary. It is our job as professionals to create memorable images that speak the words we wish to convey for our clients and photographers.

    When dropping off our film we gave it to professionals that used darkroom tools to enhance our images with a different set of tools... not as extensive as what we have now. I remember the hours in the darkroom to soften, vignette and bring tone to a black and white photo. Now instead we are lucky to have presets, actions, and plug ins. These tools markedly make us stand out from amatures, from phone shooters, from those who think they are professional with a point and shoot 5x zoom. I had a guy come for an interview who had just that. I asked him what lense he uses and he said a 67mm. I didn't think they made a 67mm lens. He showed me... it was the thread size of the lens. And yet with his camera in "P" he took great pictures as so many do. They don't know how they got what they did as they relied on "P." Master photographers in the early days of photography used vignettes in their portraits and have been ever since. So reading this article confused me somewhat. I belive some things are gimicky and we as pro's need to know how much and where to use these things for our clients and our own art work. The bottom line is that as a creator of images we all have our creative eye and in time it develops, hopefully stronger which builds our style. We can't get good unless we have shot, worked and processed images a lot, made mistakes and understand the differences between timeless imaging, and trend. We may shoot and create a timeless style, however someone's clothes and personal style may date an image perhaps more so than how we have altered an image. Sepia and toning photographs has been since the beginning of photography. How we apply our tools depends too on how we see and what may be best for the photograph. Trending goes on in all industries, especially fashion. We do have to keep up with trends if we want to eat as photographers because that is what people will buy today and tomorrow as well as a timeless image if the buying public can appreciate the differences. Did I think I would be making story book albums, needing to be just as much a graphic designer today as a darkroom technician 20 years ago? Did I think that all that I produced in the advertising industry with a 4x5 view camera would be replaced by a computer only 15 years ago? NO. So as in any profession we have to be willing to move, bend and change if we are going to stay in our professions and grow with the times. It just is. Photography is amazing and I feel very lucky to have been able to work in this field for as long as I have, still successful. Had I not been willing to change as times have, then I would have had no choice then to do something else. Study so you know where to apply and do what lies in your minds eye.

  • Michael May 1, 2011 03:57 am

    You're missing the point...the article espouses the approach of not using PS right out of the gate and the associated "mistakes, fads, trends and whatever" that are common in poor, unskilled editing.

    My contention is that this suggestion/approach/idea is all wrong and damaging to the career or interest of any photographer.

    To "step away from the computer" as you suggest is to step away from the dark room. To step away from the dark room is absolute folly in photography.
    The author of the article and yourself are confounding the idea of post processing with post processing fads/trends. Don't do this. When you do this, and disregarded processing as somehow unnecessary, it tells me that you don't know what your doing in post processing. That's why I suggested as much.

    Fads/trends, whatever, are soon discarded. BUT clients love them...that's why they are fads. If clients didn't love them they wouldn't be fads.
    If you refuse to produce prints that emphasize a fad in processing I can only assume that you don't know how. Why else would you turn down a paying customer?

    There is no better way to expand your understanding of digital photography, no greater encouragement to refine your process behind the lens than to try to edit a crappy photo and make it look at all reasonable. The beginner quickly realizes that it can't be done. Garbage in equals garbage out. This is the first lesson that PhotoShop teaches. The only solution is to spend more time behind the camera.

    Order of priority (yet all invaluable) in producing a high-art photograph is as follows:
    1. Light, light, light!!!
    2. Quality of lens used
    3. Quality of camera and skills in controlling exposure
    4. Quality of post-processing equipment and skills in editing

    The digital and analog dark room is as central to the process of "making a photo" as the prime lens I screw on the front of my camera. To think otherwise is ridiculous.

    The EDITING MISTAKES which you and others address are due only to an untrained "editing" eye. Once trained, such mistakes as "laser-eyes" are soon avoided. These EDITING mistakes are not the result of an undue emphasis on post-processing as you suggest but conversely a lack of editing skill. Skill in editing comes from experience in editing not from clicking a shutter or mastering light.

    Camera/lighting skills and post-processing skills are intertwined and equally valuable. One cannot survive without the other. That's just the way it is. Please, never suggest that someone step away from the dark-room or computer. This suggests that somehow the dark-room/PS can compensate for poor photography skills. To think such a thing reveals your lack experience and knowledge about the photography field in general.

    You took the quote from Don and applied it out of context. Don would be the first to tell you what I just did. Don would never espouse this article or your comments.

  • Kelly chance May 1, 2011 02:51 am

    Post editing....sorry i didnt know how to add on to my comment above. Okay so ill end with this example we shot 3 little kids with antique fishing equipment on a log on the deltas edge...an amazing photograph with a great feel but after we high contrasted it in a sepia form it made it more of a huckfinn kinda vibe so it was completely different and better after post processing...so there is my 2 cents....

  • Kelly chance May 1, 2011 02:46 am

    Geesh everyone is so sensitive. As it should be because art/photography is a very individual subjective thing, and photographers like my husband and myself have delicate egos and only want to hear that ourwork is life changing. Even if our photographs are slightly critiqued we panic and if a client puts in all caps LOVE IT with only 3 !!! exclamation points we kinda scratch our heads like maybe they arent like changing photos..hehehe but anyway i had forgotten about this post a year ago and so it was good to revusit it so thank u for that. I believe that post processing is merely to enhance, polish and finish an already great photo. It can look and feel good in the camera but possibly even better in !

  • Margaret May 1, 2011 01:56 am

    Perhaps the term “TREND” would have been more appropriate than fad. I stand corrected… What I was simply trying to point out is that many photographers have adopted many of the same editing style. It becomes a tad underwhelming, for lack of a better word, to sift through portfolios where it’s difficult to tell one photographer from the next.

    "You haven’t even learned how to produce a fad let alone proper classical results." Wow. I make a nice living doing what I do and have captured MANY beautiful moments.

    I do understand the work that goes into “making” pictures. I understand my editing software quite well. I just choose NOT to have my work look like everybody else’s. As for amateurish comments, sorry that I don’t like whitewashed skin tones! Laser eyes – count me out! I was merely referencing things that previous posters had said. I like the sparkle I can capture in my subjects’ eyes – without relying heavily on post-processing. Perhaps you should take a step away from your computer, grab your camera, and appreciate the art form for what it is.

    “Photography for me is not looking, it's feeling. If you can't feel what you're looking at, then you're never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.”
    -Don McCullin

  • Michael April 30, 2011 12:01 am

    "...I am tired of “laser” eyes; I am tired of people with white-washed faces. Whatever happened to photography for the sake of art? What happened to to the simplicity of nicely contrasted black and white images? What happened to vivid full-colour shots?..."

    How are these issues a result of post-processing fads? What are you talking about? Proper post-processing is as vital to the final image as clicking the shutter. These issues mentioned above are all a result of poor skill NOT Fad and NOT processing in general.

    There is a real problem here evident in the comments above WHICH IS: unskilled, inexperienced photographers fashioning themselves to be photographic purists in an attempt to ameliorate their own insecurities for not disciplining themselves in all aspects of the trade...especially editing. Shame on all of you.
    THE ONLY problem with post-processing is that you haven't spent the time to learn and refine it. You are all lazy and scared of being compared to others more skilled and disciplined in the craft. Yet you all fashion yourselves critics of a higher moral understanding and refined taste.
    So then, take off your false cloaks of self-righteousness and piety and get to work bringing the entire post-processing method to some higher moral plane (whatever that might be). Be sure to lead by example though, you great arbiters of post-processing moral truth.

    Fads are fads. Who cares about them besides the client?
    But, "Why?" I ask you, do you throw out the baby with the bathwater? Why equate "FADS in post-processing" with post-processing?
    Why not criticize dark-room post-processing work? Maybe because it was somehow more organic than digital? I contend that it doesn't matter because poor processing in either medium is still poor processing. Likewise, there were fads then. Nobody talks about those old fads now except in passing and derision. Did those 70's and early 80's processing fads derail photography into an abyss from which it still has yet to recover? Obviously not.

    Maybe you think it makes you appear smart to be a critic. This is a common misconception prevalent in politics. But, alas, it is only those who broaden a discipline with SOLUTIONS and new METHODOLOGY who actually ARE smart. Never the critic.

    Do your customers want fads in post-processing? Give them what they want. They're paying you for it. Oh wait, you can't. You haven't even learned how to produce a fad let alone proper classical results.

    The great value of fad's in any genre or medium is that they always point the artist, and in turn the client , toward the classically highest forms. Fads are a foil against which classical methods and forms grow in stature and allure.

    Winslow Homer, considered the greatest American painter to ever live, painted non-traditionally and traditionally. Did he ever take part in fads? Yes he did. He was a member of the Tile Club in New York. Did it infect his work? Yes it did. Did it ultimately matter? No. Was he ever a self-proclaimed critic and widely published. ABSOLUTELY NOT. He was too busy doing some of the greatest work in the history of mankind. What are the names of the art critics and purists of his day? Any one? Any one? That's what I thought.

    Read more: https://digital-photography-school.com/10-deady-post-processing-sins#ixzz1KuvKDTHI

  • Margaret April 29, 2011 12:37 pm

    Excellent article. As a photographer, I have become so tired with much of the post-processing on images I've seen as of late. I am tired of the fads. I am tired of "laser" eyes; I am tired of people with white-washed faces. Whatever happened to photography for the sake of art? What happened to to the simplicity of nicely contrasted black and white images? What happened to vivid full-colour shots? I know my equipment well and am confident enough with my work to not rely on fads in post-processing. I even ditched my digital slr for a while and worked with an old clunker of a film slr. I learned a lot...

    "Textures are going to be the wood paneling of the this period." Amen to that!:)

  • Queen April 20, 2011 07:07 am

    Amen, Rus Turner!

  • Rus Turner April 17, 2011 08:03 pm

    What a crock!!!!

    A picture sells itself, the method is irrelevant.

    The first rule is "THERE ARE NO RULES" If a great picture is published everyone COULD critique it, but it would still be a great picture.

    The end justifies the means. Only idiot intellectualists place rules on art!!

  • MIchael February 18, 2011 03:00 pm

    "The essential spirit of this article is to illustrate what happens when such a sophisticated tool is in the hands of people with very little knowledge or artistic sense."

    This statement is true...which ironically reveals the superfluous nature of the article.

    What serious professional is concerned with PS being in the hands of ignorant and non-artistic people?!?

    Who cares if the great mass of "unwashed" are using PS incorrectly?!?! SERIOUSLY...who cares?

    I ask these questions from the arrogant perspective of the author. Why bother writing this article?

    I on the other hand I see and understand the vast majority of "Flickr -ites" as self-taught student constantly learning and evolving. They are constantly trying new stuff and mimicking art they aspire to. Do they sometimes get "it" wrong? You bet they do. DO I CARE? NO!

    Was this article funny? Maybe. Was this article "tongue-in-cheek". Yes. Was it mature? No. Was it ill-conceived like most articles on this site? Yes.

    Ansel Adams said, "You don't take a photograph, you make it."

    So make it.

    The people grousing about PS being over used strike me as those who probably need to work on there camera craft the most. That's right...they're just projecting on to others their own frustrations about their own short-comings.

    THE FIRST thing using PS teaches you is that without good camera skills you cant get a good picture. PERIOD.
    Try it. Take a crappy photo and try to make it work with PS. You can't. No body can. It certainly won't be what you intended. It might be some burnt out version of the image but it wont truly be what you wanted.

    Good camera skills = good PS result.

    SO, stop with the pointless and ignorant PS bashing.

    Read more: https://digital-photography-school.com/10-deady-post-processing-sins#ixzz1EHIv44l1

  • Branden Harvey February 18, 2011 02:29 pm

    Just posted these on my 'like' page. So good!

  • Paul Saulnier January 25, 2011 02:38 pm

    @frayon lover ....last summer i was teaching photography to a class of kids 7-12 yrs...the program i was teaching with photography was PICASSA ...its the one i found was the easiest for them to use ...and as i told them ...set your camera as good as you know how and less editing you will need ...the thing is with picassa is that you lose allot of quality ...i love using the disc i got with my canon camera ...then if i need to fix a bit more i just use picnick on flickr ....its good enough for me ..im no pro ...but i do have photoshop and its not even in my comp yet ....you could always go with GIMP also ...does amazing work if you have patience with it ...i dont...if you go to my flickr account you will see that its not great ...but its not bad ...i have fun ...guess its all that counts right?

  • Frayron Lover January 23, 2011 07:06 am

    1. As a beginner, I find it instructive to correct a photo using Photoshop (or preferably some other free tool with basic photo correction, like Picasa). It is one way to get feedback about what adjustments need to be made in taking the photo.

  • Tronam January 13, 2011 07:36 pm

    @Ellen That is actually not true at all, Ellen. Professional photographers have been using Photoshop since the very beginning and the original developers created version 1 as a way of performing darkroom modifications to photographs digitally, not for advertising or web graphics. I hate to break it to you, but professional photographers have been employing post processing for scores of decades, be it in the real darkroom or the digital one. The essential spirit of this article is to illustrate what happens when such a sophisticated tool is in the hands of people with very little knowledge or artistic sense.

  • Jennifer Moore January 13, 2011 02:00 pm

    @Ellen- To be fair, I find the ability to post process very helpful, as someone who cannot yet afford a lot of lenses and filters.

    I do only minimal post processing, however.

  • Ellen December 29, 2010 12:49 pm

    Excellent hilarious article.

    The fine line between commercial advertising and family photography/professional photographing has become somewhat overlapped these days.

    PhotoShop used to be used exclusively by graphic artists. Advertising was it's top use. It made it easy for graphics to be rendered by those artists. Then web graphics...

    The digital age is bringing graphical arts into photography... real easy to apply those filters after-wards, instead of screwing them on the lenses before you took the photo.

    I suspect it's the young ones here that are protesting this article the most. They really are in the dark......

  • Leanne December 25, 2010 12:33 am

    Well thank you Natalie - very good advice I feel. Level, level, level. Most of the time, thats all I do in post production. (maybe a sharpen here and there..) but have been guilty of some of the offences of which you mention... love your work, thanks.

  • GradyPhilpott December 23, 2010 09:59 am

    I'm an amateur who gets lucky enough to have a enough usable pictures out about 400 to do a club newsletter every 4-6 weeks.

    Sometimes the shot I need to illustrate something just sucks and it's way too late to do anything about it, but go to Photoshop Elements and make it work.

    The result may not be art, but it will document some element of our activities that's important.

    I'm not good at Photoshop Elements, either, but I do know how to clean up stuff I don't want in a picture or enhance something that needs it and if worse comes to worst, I can get something where there was once nothing.

    I do agree with all the points in the article, but thank the good Lord for Adobe.

  • drlolly October 9, 2010 10:59 pm

    Great article. I am approaching photography after I have used Photoshop for years. I found PS to be limited by the poor quality photos that I took myself. Now I am learning how to take good photos first. It's like cooking with second rate ingredients. The best chef can only do so much with the wilted lettuce, rubbery carrot and old dried herbs etc........

  • Dianne August 25, 2010 03:56 am

    LOVE this!!! Great advice and hilarious all at the same time. Your edited pix are a riot. Thanks for sharing!

  • Ken August 9, 2010 09:45 am

    Humorous and exactly correct post! Textures are going to be the wood paneling of the this period.

  • simon July 10, 2010 02:18 am

    I may well be a sinner as far as vignetting goes but my textures can hold their own quite happily :-)

    best wishes


  • Paul Saulnier May 28, 2010 09:01 pm

    well....heres a true story that happened to me ....i had a call from a girl asking me to go at her first ever runway fashion show ...so i went ...got there about 2 hours before the show ...met about 15 models ...talked to a few of them ...they asked if i was the photographer for the show ...i said i was just there for one of the girls ...an amateur photographer ...had my gear with me in my back pack ...a couple of flashes ...3 lenses ...but my favorite toy ....my expo disc for manual white balance ...2 hours later ..the show starts ....i go to the front of the stage ...2 pros with the huge gear standing there ...i felt like the little nerd next to 2 huge bullies in the school yard ...said hi to them ...they looked at me ...turned around and kept talking to each other ...took out my expo disc for my manual white setting ...then asked if they wanted to try out my disc ...they looked with a smirk and said ...we do ours on photoshop ...and giggled like 2 little girls ...so i felt like an idiot that didnt know what the hell he was doing...then the show stated ...i took my pictures using a 70-300mm 4.5 canon lens ...my other camera had the canon 50mm prime 1.8 ...had a cheap flash on both camera that i got on kijiji.com for about 50$ each they had the huge lenses that go for about 1500$ each ...the huge flashes ...power packs on there belts ..the whole 9 yards ...at the end of the show ...i took my stuff and left ...gave a few cards i had to a few of the girls to call me ..that i would email them some of the pics ...or get them off my flickr account ...well ...the week after i get an email from a girl ...saying check this link out ...it was my pic ...one of the designers stole a pick of mine for there poster that was going to be used in all the stores here in montreal.....that person was the one that had hired the 2 pro photographers...so i contacted the people that stole my pic ...i was mad...he said he took it cause it was on face book ...some girl posted it on her account ...but ..he stopped ...they told me they liked mine more cause it looked real ...not photo shopped ...the white where perfect ....i told him he could use my pic if i get credit for it ...he wouldnt ...what a jerk ...so ...my story is ...get the settings right ...you might not need to photo shop much ...crop ...lighten ...thats about it

  • Stacey May 28, 2010 04:38 pm

    Seriously, couldn't have said it better myself. Great job, keep it going, some of the photoshopographers really need to be reigned in. I say if you couldn't get it on film you probably shouldn't be calling yourself a photographer. A digital photographer maybe, but just like you said, so many rely on photoshop to fix rather than enhance their work. Moderation is good in all things.

  • Jeff Smith May 21, 2010 12:09 pm

    Wow, Natalie's really pretty.

  • Suresh May 18, 2010 12:13 pm

    i can't agree more for all the points. also haven't laughed so much in a long while. awesome article.

  • Steven April 29, 2010 04:17 pm

    I don't use Photoshop. I use basic things like sharpen, straighten, take out a power line and fine tune brightness a bit.

    That's about it. My view on photography is that you have to take the best image possible at the time. Some of the greatest images of all time were taken and never Photoshoped to death. Get the photo right the first time is the way I work. Sometimes, it can be time consuming, especially on vacation shots, with the wife and kid wondering what %^%^&* is Dad doing.

    I have photographed for 40 years or so. And have learned, with film, that you have to take the best shot because it cost money to print a lousy image.

    Now, that I have gone digital I stll have that same way of working. How will it look? How can I make it look the way I way it to look?

  • Tai April 17, 2010 01:30 pm

    I would have to agree that photoshop can handicap an amateur photographer. Because I have been there! These are all so true and I have either seen them done wrong or been one of the wrongdoers myself, and yes, I'm embarrassed about it now! Anywho, good post.

  • Lacy April 17, 2010 07:22 am

    Oh how I love this article! Thank you :)

  • Joe Miller April 17, 2010 05:30 am

    Great post! Thanks!

  • rachel April 17, 2010 05:14 am

    oh great ...lol...i have totally done half of these...haha! selective color I think can be sweet...although I do have clients that want it and LOVE it..mostly just for kids and babies..is that bad? Totally agree on vignette! and have noticed that some vintage makes people look dead too! and totally agree on textures...i think they are hard to look naturally done...!!!!!!!! I loved reading this..I am so guilty....i do love my flora bella actions though!!!!!!!!

  • Jill Ison April 17, 2010 03:19 am

    now that was fun to read!!

  • Jessica Magee April 17, 2010 02:44 am

    Oh thank you! Wonderfully done. Not going to lie ... I was a vignette noob. I thought - briefly - it helped. I realized ... it did not.

  • MIchael Shuey April 16, 2010 11:56 am

    It would seem to me that the more I work in Photoshop the more I realize how I need to improve my chops when I am under the gun, camera in hand and have a client in front of me. On the flip-side, the more time I spend behind the camera the more I start to think about dynamic possibilities and expanding my artistic/photographic boundaries...like working more in Photoshop.

    I would guess that any hard-working (hungry) photographer who works in Photoshop for too long will start to grow bored/annoyed with their own "garbage" and attempt to change or improve their own methodology...I know I do.
    Therefore, using Photoshop early in the learning stages forces the conscientious photographer to analyze and improve their own work. How could it not?
    Can you throw a Photoshop "filter" on every one of your underexposed "Bridal-session" shots and expect to convince the bride and groom you know what your doing? You can't emulate current magazine spreads with Photoshop alone and everyone reading this knows it.

    Is there any better feeling than to snap off 70 shots (50 of which get the "thumbs-up") of a client and only have to adjust exposure half a stop, with a crop and a small WB adjustment salted in "to-taste"? Thank goodness for Camera Raw!
    I hate spending a lot of time editing. I NEED to get it right when behind the lens because I hate editing until my eyes bleed.

    If spending hours upon hours heavily editing photos is your passion then more power to you. Some heavy, artistic editing still looks really awesome and I want to learn more and more about it. I would say though that it is not to profitable to sit in front of a monitor dodging and burning for days-on-end while clients wait for their stuff.

    From a professional point of view, editing is done to provide the customer with an image that they want. If the customer has paid me then I better do whatever it takes to make a "crap" photo match their taste or I am out of business. If the customer hates my "churchin' up " efforts (for example improving on a "cool pose/crap lighting" shot) then that's another issue entirely. BUT, its better to provide them with something "marginal" than with nothing at all.
    Can you imagine telling your customer something like, "My artistic standards have become particularly heightened since the wedding. I don't post-edit for religious reasons. I need to tell you then that I have decided none of the photos we took are going to work. Therefore, I have deleted them all. Sorry. We'll have to do the wedding again and again until I get it perfect. I know you understand. Call me as soon as possible for rescheduling and available dates. Cheers! P.S. What church will you be using this next time around?"

    Thank your lucky stars for dark rooms and Photoshop people.

    "Product is product" and "art is art". So work hard both in Photoshop and with your camera from the very beginning; you'll be able to deliver product when your customers demand it and art when you demand it of yourself.

  • Andrea April 16, 2010 08:53 am

    This is hysterical... the examples may be over the top but her points are great - a lot of people have really reached the point of overkill with Photoshop. There are lot of "photographers" out there who could benefit from reading this and taking a step back to evaluate the quality of their work instead of their photoshop skills. I sometimes think I'm lazy for not trying harder with Photoshop but maybe it's for the best - it will force me to take better photos in the first place! Thanks Natalie!

  • Craver Vii April 12, 2010 11:48 pm

    Thanks, Eric! That was very helpful.

  • Eric April 12, 2010 11:33 pm


    "radioactive eyes" are over processed eyes that seem to be giving off their own light. It might be necessary be to add a little brightness or color, or perhaps cover up veins in eyes, but too much makes them too bright as if they were giving off their own light.

  • Nando Tampubolon April 12, 2010 07:32 pm

    Ryszard Says:
    March 5th, 2010 at 8:16 am
    Well it is a truth in the statement..but also the false….you can easily overdue pictures but with the same you my under process too…we have to remember we are working with the Digital cameras so every image is process…photos are no longer Pictures they are Graphics…so is no such thing like overdue….if somebody like screaming image let it be….is no limit on art. And is not recipe for a perfect photo…Look in the history of modern art..And judge for yourself if somebody use it to much saturation…or black and white is not right thing to do . In my opinion post is a personal preference and is no body’s business to judge….you my like or not …..But it is personal expression and if you like it go for it.


    I'm agree with what Ryszard said,,we use digital camera, so every image is process, and every process in phtoshop or stuffs are acceptable. About good and bad the process in photoshop, its all depend on the photoshoper.. If we taking pictures and want no process to the photos,,why dont we use the old'conventional film camera ?

  • CJAYJR April 12, 2010 04:27 am

    I think anyone can get a point-and-shoot , point it, shoot, and create art. There are no rules for art - that's what make it art! You're talking the art that is defined as the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance. Think outside the box! Mar 29, 2010 ... Interesting piece in the NYTimes today about pro-photographers, and how pro-photography-work is starting to shrivel up. In other words, the amateurs are coming in full force. Camera can do almost everything and Photoshop can fix what they can't! What rules?

  • Bob Loosemore April 11, 2010 05:40 pm

    No right or wrong Liza? So can just anyone get a point-and-shoot, point it, shoot, and create 'art' just because this person likes it? The 'beholder' certainly has to know what beauty is, but the artist has to follow rules to create it, and the beauty is in the image, not just in the eye.

  • Robbie McLean April 10, 2010 11:45 pm

    This Website is a true gem.

    Although post processing is a necessary evil. Nothing beats getting it right in the camera. I too have been guilty of a few nuclear eyeballs here and there.

    Please keep up the fabulous tutorials and commentary.


    Robbie McLean

  • Liza April 10, 2010 02:46 am

    I appreciate the tips and totally agree with most of them. It is indeed just one person's opinion and not a absolute rule that must always be followed. However, I think Donald E Giannatti said it best with regards to #2, 3, 4 and 6. "BUT they are fads because the clients WANT them." "Not knowing how to do that could inhibit a photographer who is trying to get business." How does a fad start anyway? The infamous "They" THEY say do this, THEY say don't do that. I do not feel that any photographer that has some of the trendy work is making a mistake. It is not a matter of right or wrong, just a personal choice. I may not care for a particular trend but who’s to say something is wrong, shouldn't be learned or even a part of your displayed/posted work? Isn't that all a part of creating art? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What is one man's junk is another treasure.

  • Kevin April 10, 2010 12:06 am

    Great article. You verbalized what I was thinking internally about seeing photos that were obviously over processed. I have a lot of freckles, as well as my children, and boy do they pop out in B&W portraits. I used to "Ken and Barbie" them in Photoshop, but now have come to appreciate the realism and uniqueness of what God has given us. To that end, I was glad to see your commentary.

  • Steven April 9, 2010 10:57 pm

    Great article! I just wish more articles could be like this. Natalie makes suggestions and clearly states that they are only her opinion and what she is telling you to avoid may actually work for you.. I'm so sick of reading articles that say "This is what I do and any other way is totally wrong." Thanks Natalie!

    And for those of you that hate this article I remind you that Natalie did say "This post is truly just a satire"

    For what it's worth, I can't wait until HDR is a thing of the past. I got sick of it after the first 10 images I saw.

  • Vlastik April 9, 2010 07:09 am

    Oh, I am a sinner :-o

    [eimg url='http://photos3.pix.ie/60/ED/60ED48F2DC85448CB69F8F923A3F54E9-500.jpg' title='60ED48F2DC85448CB69F8F923A3F54E9-500.jpg']

  • Craver Vii April 9, 2010 05:08 am

    What are "radioactive eyes?"

  • subodh April 9, 2010 05:03 am

    Thank you for the tips, i normally do hindu wedding which are very colorful.. Most bride and groom like to superimposed on floral background , in heart like shaped background etc.
    All these pictures have no alternative than to really undergo re-touching in photoshop..
    The article above give me the impression that using photoshop seems to be unprofessionl.. i will desagree here ,as i have seen numerous professional working on international model for top perfumes ,retouching their thousands dollars photos on photoshop, i would rather agree that the idea is that you should try your very best to get perfect photos so that you don`t spend times on correction.
    Well brother...whats the use to go on digital then...better have the old rolls 35 mm camera.

  • Modesty April 9, 2010 03:07 am

    I'm greatful
    Thanx for the help Mark!

    Have a nice spring or autumn,
    don't know if you're downunder or up in the northern hemisphere :)

  • Alastair Seagroatt April 9, 2010 02:27 am

    Well that's it - I now want to do a photo that uses all of these (+HDR) and that works!

    Ah well, dream on?


  • JLane April 9, 2010 02:22 am

    I am not sure I necessarily agree with you on the Photoshop point, but I do agree with the sentiment. You should always strive to get it right throught the lens first.

    If you had told a photographer 20 years ago that they shouldn't set foot in a darkroom for at least two years, they should just get their photos printed at the one-hour, most real photographers would have laughed in your face. Many BFA programs still requre darkroom classes in their first semester.

    I think that the rest of your points drive home the 'Don't overprocess' mantra that every good photographer should live by.

    But, of course, rules are meant to be broken . . . but you first must learn and understand the rules.

    Also, please, let's not revel in our own photographic snobbery. "Photoshopographers," really? Why not just call them what they are, novices. I have seen some amazing "photoshopography" that really spoke to me, more than a lot of so called 'pure' photography has, in fact. Last I checked, there were a number of tutorials on this very Web site that helped one master some 'photoshopography' techniques.

  • Mark Pashia April 9, 2010 01:45 am


    near the bottom of the email that you receive because you are subscribed is a link to "manage your subscriptions".

    That page will show all of the threads you are subscribed to near the top. Just put a check mark in the one you want to end and click on the button below that section.

    Good luck.


  • Modesty Sofronenkoff April 9, 2010 01:22 am

    I can't find anywhere to unsubscribe to this thread...can anyone help me?

  • Jennifer Moore April 8, 2010 11:39 pm

    Bob, I'm afraid nothing came through. Try from.jens.pen (at) gmail (dot) com.

    Thanks again for the tips!

  • Bob Loosemore April 8, 2010 05:19 pm

    Correction, I shoot at 800ISO in soft, low light levels, inside or out, lower ISOs when possible. Bob.

  • Bob Loosemore April 8, 2010 05:13 pm

    Thank you Jennifer - I have mailed you, hope it gets through. Actually I bought an Olympus SP-550UZ, snappy name eh?, on offer, on ebay, nearly two years ago. It has much better ideas than I do about when to take a picture; it's a press and wait device, but pensioners can't be choosers can they? I shoot mostly at 800ISO and 1000th sec. outside, but I think the anti-shake thing really works. Playing with photos is a wonderful hobby Jennifer, you will develop a style (or not) by constantly refining your purposes and also by soaking up images from everywhere, particularly galleries and art books and forming your own preferences. Your own preferences.

    I dislike automatic vignette because highlights push through them and the result can be messy, but I dislike all effects that distract for no purpose. However, to darken slightly areas around a main subject can bring the eye into the picture without anyone noticing that it has been done. I use 'smart sharpen' because my own images need it due to the process, but I toggle the image on and off to see if there are 'artifacts' around sharp edges.

    Oh, and I don't buy textures and plaster them on with a virtual trowel.....but a few PS filters are useful, can be minimized by settings and faded out locally with 'history brush'. Natalie is right to share her dislikes, and excellent comments above have remarked that it's the result that matters. You want to see the work of art, digital image, photo, painting, piece of furniture whatever - NOT the tools.

  • Jennifer Moore April 8, 2010 06:01 am

    Bob, this last post of yours was very, very helpful. THANK YOU!

    I've had my D60 about a year, and I shoot with it (well) regularly, but this bit of information you've shared will help me immensely as I perfect my art. :)

    I use post-processing simply for making small fixes. Sometimes, I will play with a photo in GIMP, but when I do that, the end product is very obviously a different piece--because I MEANT it to be. ;)

  • Bob Loosemore April 8, 2010 05:38 am

    It saddens me to think that you believe PS Elements can correct the kind of errors that occur from using programmes instead of learning the very very simple basics of manual photography.

    Exposure is a matter of time and lens setting - there is nothing else you can adjust apart from sensitivity. Programmes can try to give an exposure different to that suggested by the metering - there is nothing else they can do.

    With the tiny lenses of small digital cameras the aperture does not matter very much, No camera of any type can cope with the huge contrast ranges you will come up against - you HAVE to choose the part of this range that is important, and measure the light coming from this. Highlight areas burn out so easily in digital photography, the camera does not know if you want the shadows or the highlights to show detail - if it matters YOU must know. Only with manual will you learn to capture what you want, and it's not difficult. THEN you can have real fun in editing because you have detail where you want it. Nothing to do with being lazy, you will save time if your images are well exposed. Good luck.

  • CJAYJR April 8, 2010 03:59 am

    I've had my Fujifilm FinePix E900 a couple years now and was just about ready to get something new when I read an article here about taking the time to read the manual again. Having done so, I discovered many more features of my camera I never used and have become a better photographer because of it. I use Photoshop Elements 7.0 (started w/4.0) and although I don't rely on it heavily for post processing, I do try to use some of techniques I've learned from photoshopelementsuser's monthly issue. I use the post processing work mostly to accentuate various photos that I will add to one of our three digital photo frames. People on my wife's job and mine will ask about various photos because of the different techniques used on them. As photos are a very personal items people will look and usually say that's a nice picture but when they see something truly different they want to know how it was done or can you do that for me. So I think post processing has its place. To be perfectly honest I use the various modes on my camera to take shots but if for some reason they don't come out like I expect, I can correct it or use some kind of special technique to make a half decent photo better - thank goodness for photo editing software. I will never take the time to learn how to use the manual setting on my camera because I'm lazy and because I have Photoshop Elements!

  • Jason Collin Photography April 8, 2010 03:12 am

    I am very glad you are against selective color as well, to me it screams gimmick. And it's not just because I don't know how to do it! If you image is not strong enough without gimmick, make a stronger one.

  • Erik April 8, 2010 02:41 am

    "Ask any TRUE professional photographer and they will tell you, a heavy vignette is a sure fire sign of an amateur trying to go pro."

    Exactly when does a vignette become too heavy? I remember Laurence Kim writing on lenses, telling about how the vignetting of a lens was not a property he cared about when buying new equipment, as he often added one later on anyway. Also Chase Jarvis goes quite heavy on the vignetting in his The best camera-project. These are both TRUE professional photogs in my book.

    Further, you'll probably never manage to escape any 2010 look no matter how hard you try, at least not by following ten commandments like these. Break the rules instead, that's my best tip. That being said, as much as I agree with timelessness being a great quality, having your picture rooted in time is not the worst thing ever. Aren't we all charmed by those yellowish styles from the 70's to some degree (not that they need to be emulated or held as guidance)? And how about those classic 50's b&w jazz pictures. Many would call them timeless (although we certainly associate them with the 50's), while others would just call them cliches.

    I do agree subjectively to a lot of the "sins" mentioned here, and I realize the author allows nuances. But I think lists like these often creates more limits while what we should be pursuing is diversity (...yes, and quality). Like someone here saying they only use the exposure and blackpoint-faders. Ok, fine, if that's your style. But if it is, why would you want more people to use the same one?

    Just my two cents.

  • Paul Grand April 7, 2010 11:37 pm

    Yes mate I just saw yours too! :-p

    I wasn't pushing textures, far from it, I was just shocked that anybody could pontificate negatively about Photoshop and at the same time admit that they couldn't use it. That's all.
    I looked at the writers site and saw many of the "mistakes" she says will be dated in just a year or two.
    My objection is not personal, and yes I did read the thread.

  • Bob Loosemore April 7, 2010 11:17 pm

    @Paul Grand. There is some beautiful artwork on your site http://flypapertextures.blogspot.com/ Paul, but as someone trying to sell texture packs I am surprised you indulged in such arrogant and ignorant comments as the one above. I will bet you read few if any of the well considered comments posted. You have a problem.

  • Bob Loosemore April 7, 2010 10:57 pm

    Poor Susana! Nobody wants to deny any rights; to produce rubbish and be ignored is every artists right. i have exercised it more often than I want to admit. However, don't leave, your disagreement with us is vital to a balanced squabble.

    Tell me, privately if you like, is it not proper that style and talent should be discussed and even judged? There are always reasons why one picture, painting, piece of music, etc. is considered better than another. Natalie's list is an excellent way to get us arguing - as she says, its good fun.

  • Steve April 7, 2010 10:47 pm

    Some great suggestions or opinions here some that are spot on but others, well let's just say some of the greatest most successful photographers today use. There are many GREAT photographers that use textures and vignettes, many of whom are VERY well known for their senior photography work.. I don't like to use them mysef except in very specific instances but I know of others that do al the time.

    The key is not to over do or over-process. I have seen many shots that were over saturated where someone was trying to get and HDR effect or over sharpened.

  • Paul Grand April 7, 2010 10:44 pm

    Really, this reads as someone who is clearly a total Luddite, my toes curled reading this amateurish drivel and I laughed at all that concentrated misinformation printed here.

    Shame on DPS for printing such a negative feature:-/

  • Susana April 7, 2010 09:42 pm

    Blah, blah, blah. Do we really need one more list of what other people shouldn't do? You are certainly full of yourself. People should have a right to express themselves any way they like in their chosen hobby. They don't need to have their wings clipped by some self appointed censor or 500. This site is so full of this type of useless list it has become a vexation to my spirit. I for one, am outta here!

  • Robert April 7, 2010 06:46 am

    Yes, I know what you mean about point one. I've always used Photoshop (webdesign background) and had to slap myself many, many times.

  • Yolanda April 3, 2010 06:42 am

    First of all, to Natalie - sorry to hear about losing your infant child, but you already know that he's an angel and he's now in heaven. Secondly, let the spirit of this celebration (Holy Week) bring us peace in our hearts. At one point I wrote that I refused to use for my profile a photograph that my dear friend enhanced on Photoshop. Well, that photo was heavily enhanced that it took away the natural "me." It was taken by a professional photographer, and when manipulated made me look like a magazine model because it looked so perfect. Nevertheless, I, as an amateur could not deny the fact that I had done a little enhancement on my photographs. On March 28th I was at the Grand Canyon with my husband and friends, took over 300 pictures with my Canon EOS20D. Some pictures were too bright, some were too dark, while some had too much background and less of the subject, to begin with. Of course I will not post those pictures on Facebook without some cropping or some kind of color enhancements. This morning I watched a couple of videos of a guy named Roy Barker, who teaches Photoshop; I was amazed to learn a few simple steps to improve the photos of my children and grandkids before printing them for display. I am 60 and I enjoy technology.

  • Bob Loosemore April 3, 2010 05:53 am

    Hi Stacie, look out, here comes one of the dinosaurs. It sounds right to 'stick with the natural look', but I think it's still more a matter of how you do it rather than what you do. What a wonderful era 'photography' is entering. Process and 'print' hundreds of pictures in an evening, See what you happen to like and concentrate on that for a while. Allow yourself to dislike a result, and ask why perhaps.

    Realistic, natural, surreal, impressionist, minimalist, romantic? Purism = neurosis, give it a miss I say.

    If you are having fun it may be because you are discovering a talent you didn't know you had. If you are NOT really having fun but have to carry on - then you are probably an artist, and will need to be ARROGANT (where have I heard that word recently?). Arrogant? Well, i meant 'self confident' You will know you are an artist, but don't expect others to agree! You will teach yourself to use all the tools available, and select the ones YOU like.

    Like any artist you will limit your aims for any one picture, develop a style, use 'brushmarks' one day, avoid them the next, avoid cliches, except when they are useful.

    If you don't 'crop' - many pictures will be badly framed.

    Digital technology seldom produces the ideal tonal range - 'levels' is an essential tool. The slightest tweak of 'saturation' will improve most images, especially if you are after the natural look. But above all, you will be listening to your own 'comments' as you work. Natalie showed instances of good tools in bad hands, perhaps only the vignette is to be avoided like poison in my view. Enjoy

  • Eric April 3, 2010 04:32 am

    I don't think any of these are sins and of themselves, but like equipment should be used wisely, and subtly, so ultimately the viewer focuses on what should be an good image made More Awesome by the use of a technique, not focusing or being distracted by the technique itself.

  • Jennifer Moore April 2, 2010 05:51 am

    First off, I did not know about the loss of your son. I'm truly, deeply, very sorry. :(

    Secondly, I try to shoot in such a way that very little editing is needed. In fact, I normally have to do very little post processing. I'm very conservative with it.

    I use GIMP, I MAY be an advanced beginner, and I'm OK with that. It's all about the shots themselves for me! :)

    Jennifer Moore
    JenniferLynn Productions, LLC

  • Stacie Rowley April 2, 2010 01:52 am

    Thank you for putting it in perspective for me. I am an amatuer, just learning as much as I can. I usually try and keep it natural, but I have been recently exploring all these techniques you have mentioned in this article. I am glad to see that they are just fads, and will eventually go out of style. I think for now I will stick with my natural look I try to accomplish. Thank you again

  • Bob Loosemore March 31, 2010 07:52 pm

    "For me Photoshop, and digital photography, was a rebirth."

    Thus spake Scottkemp2 above, and his comment appealed to me as a breath of fresh air. It seems to me that what we have in this most instructive discussion however is often the attempt to compare unlike things, images produced for different reasons and to fit different purposes(not you Scott).

    There is photography - produced with limits of lens,film,chemical, and paper. At first even colour was limited to what you could paint with a brush. Some did it well, others not, This medium has produced outstanding art, and important records for 150 years or so. Kodachrome was possibly the senior process, if you wanted to record nature/humanity, BECAUSE of the limitations. Artists impose limitations - it's what they do.

    There is image-making for clients. A pro is limited to a. what the client asks for, or b. what he/she can sell the client. The client likes to know in advance what the photographer's preferences/style/skills are.

    There is image-making for fun/art. This is a vast continuum - and anything goes, in a way. The artist is limited by imagination, but the results can have a following of one, or find appreciation among millions. Art imposes and changes its own rules through the human mind, and the human brain (two different things). It is my personal opinion that the value of a work is often related to the amount of (skilled)effort put in, but chance can also arrange a wonderful result, and the viewer may not know or care how the result happened.

    Does this make sense? Gissa job Max, or Darren, - I post my qualifications at Dr-Awsom.blogspot.com. Take care Natalie - you wouldn't think so but my thoughts are with you. Bob

  • James Brown March 31, 2010 04:19 pm

    I think discussion is incredibly healthy for the progression of any kind of art form. Well done Natalie for getting something started. And as far as the battle for "How much photoshop is too much?" Well I think time and personal circumstance will prove that in each individual's life. Personally, I'm just focussing now on "How to create a good looking image" as oppose to "How to make an image look good" and Natalie's article really spoke to me in that respect. Thanks. Throughout history new and developing art movements have been grossly criticised and over used, but those who successfully employed a new and dramatic method were the ones who did so to make a statement and make people feel something. Whether we process or not, I think the strength of the statement is what will define who is the next Jackson Pollack or Andy Warhol, and which images get hidden at the back of a hard disk in embarrassment.

  • Michelle March 31, 2010 02:20 pm

    Let's all thank Natalie for her post, in spite of the recent loss of her infant son, she still has a passion to share her thoughts and opinions that have helped make her photography 'tick". May God Bless Us All.

  • max ferguson March 31, 2010 01:13 pm

    Guys.. I'll discuss photographic post production till the cows come home. The reason I found myself here was to research online photographic comment. Some former teaching and photographic colleagues and I are researching putting together an online photography school.

    I came across Natalie's post and it tickled me. I thought her comments made a lot of sense. It also had a little bit of mischief about it. And isn't fun what it should be about?

    My comment about clients was a commiseration with Connie and biting one's tongue.. Arrogance was not my intention. As stated I have the luxury of finding myself in a position of being self indulgent.. gee's ain't I the lucky one?

    Now if someone want's to have a pop at me personally I'll trade punches till someone steps down - usually the other guy :-) - or the moderator steps in.

    As with in anything all processes and techniques are valid, as long as the result is worth it. So use whatever tools your happy working with to make that happen. Any comments lofty or otherwise here are about how I see it.

    Personally, whatever your craft/art the greater your technique and knowledge the more chance your creative efforts will stand in achieving your goal. When technique and process overwhelms the image it tends to undermine the image rather than enhance. I think that's what Natalie was on about.

    Catch you all on the flip side.. next week.

  • Paul Saulnier March 31, 2010 12:39 pm

    omg ...will you all just grow up for God sakes ..i think photoshop is for people that do magazine shoots and cheezy weddings ...also ..if you know how to set your camera good ...and shoot in raw ...you wouldnt have this bull crap fight ....so shut the hell up and remember this site is for amatures .....opinions ...i hate photoshop ...some people love it ...whats all the fuss about

  • MIchael Shuey March 31, 2010 12:35 pm



    I did not like having to wade through high-key arrogance in Max's post and simply pointed out that it smacked of arrogance.

    TO DO SO IS NOT A PERSONAL ATTACK!!!! But apparently it is on this site.


    You will all be very pleased to know that I have no intention of visiting this site again.

    I am taking this 40 year old business entrepreneur backside on down the road. So much for getting interested in photography.

  • max ferguson March 31, 2010 12:33 pm

    Thanks Mark for your support. As I said I'm away for a few days and rather discuss photography..

  • Darren Rowse March 31, 2010 12:30 pm

    guys - lets just cool it shall we. We've had a good discussion - but I think that we're not going to change anyone's opinions by continuing this so lets just leave it at that. Appreciate your input but its feeling like we're getting a little into personal attacks and non-constructive territory.

  • max ferguson March 31, 2010 12:28 pm


    There was absolutely no need to comment on me personally. I have made absolutely no judgement calls on anybody here at all. Not polite.. and not needed.. You called me arrogant.. an opinion of me .. personally.. In the context of this blog, not polite and not needed.

    I responded. Note, I haven't called you arrogant, shrill or a ninny or childish or made any comment on you.. personally what soever. I merely justified my point of view with some form of resume.. in defence of a judgement of my personality. A conversation which basically you initiated.. Now you call me shrill and childish.

    Rubbish well you certainly said it. Now Michael I'll get personal.. So far you've contributed not a lot to this blog in terms of constructive comment except smug appraisal of my personality.. which I hasten to add yet again, you don't know me. Maybe I'm an ageing, grumpy, opinionated old has been.. but it is certainly better than being a never was. Now THAT is arrogant. But I do have the T-shirt.

    I have no idea of your credentials. A quick Google search led me to.... nothing, zip, bopkiss, squat. You know very little of me and it would appear less about photography I suggest you are all f#$t and no s^&t. Take that as personally as you like dear boy.

    So Michael I hope you like sex and travel..

    For Easter I'm off to a major music festival here near the beach in Byron Bay Australia. I hope everybody here has a good break whether it be Passover, Easter or non of the above.. and maybe we can get back to discussing photography and not my purported arrogance or childishness :-)

  • Mark Pashia March 31, 2010 12:04 pm

    @michael -- Yes this is rubbish. I am tired of you stuffing my inbox with personal attacks!!!!!!!!!!

    You need to seriously grow up!! This forum is to inform about ideas, not attack other posts SO STOP IT.

    I am somewhat disappointed that no moderator has intervened before now.

    And Max, please continue to post as your input is valued even when I disagree. Your posts at least make me think about another angle.

  • MIchael Shuey March 31, 2010 11:54 am


    Sorry old chap...I said that your statement was arrogant...read it again my good fellow and you'll see what I saw. I am just being honest with you.

    Your claim that I am making judgments about you based on your words is exactly right...everyone does that including you about others.

    Quit being shrill and claiming that your being attacked...you come off as a ninny.

    Its seems obvious that anybody who wants their opinions to be considered and their resume to be validated by nods, should equally want someone to point out when they are coming off as arrogant. I would if I were sticking it out there like you are. You're being far to immature and defensive about this. Literally, your being childish.

    Read again what you wrote...see it from a prima donnas perspective...change or don't...deal with it or don't...I am done with this conversation...it's reached the point of rubbish.

  • max ferguson March 31, 2010 09:22 am


    "Notice: I commented on the arrogance evident in your comment above. Arrogance is not acceptable whether it is found in the likes of Donald Trump or yourself.

    The more you defend yourself and prattle on about it the more I wonder if the arrogance is not due more to insecurity than anything".

    You're still making assumptions about me. I guess that's maybe what you do, make snap judgements based on a couple of paragraphs in cyberspace. No need. I haven't made a judgement on anybody on this blog. Commented on their comments. Offered an opinion. When someone makes a personal comment on me based on a couple of dozen words then I feel that I am quite justified in pointing out that maybe I'm not talking through my .....

    So comments about people are maybe should left out. Please fell free to comment on my opinion but please not me. As too my arrogance or insecurity, what? Not your call. This was about post processing. That's all.

  • Jochystarz March 31, 2010 08:29 am

    I hate post-processing, i do use photoshop and lightroom proficiently but really i hate using them, i'd rather try to get it right from the beginning even if i have to take a few extra shots t different settings. believe me ... it will make you a better photog in the long run, lots of people i know take their expensive dslrs and shoot in program mode, whaaat do you ever use av or tv or manual , nope i just put my cam in p (for pro) and worry about the rest in photoshop. like the way we see in this examples posted, too much post makes pictures very unrealistic, even professional fashion shooters i seen on the model-mayhem website have the courage to display such overdone, overkilled unrealistic, barbie look like pictures. i agree with most of natalies don't do, and disagree about disouraging some not to try to it, hey a least let them learn the ways of do's and don'ts, mayke a dont will come handy for some artwork for a magazine or gallery presentation. other than that, be happy campers and shoot shoot shoot, the more you shoot the more experience you'll get and finnaly ... Keep it real , yeah softenitup a bit but not too much !

  • MIchael Shuey March 31, 2010 08:26 am


    In response to your last post let me say this:

    Then let us all proceed like Adams did. First with editing at our own pace and then to refine and mature at our own pace. None of us need self-absorbed industry prima-donnas lecturing us from their self-exalted white towers.
    Let each mans work speak for itself. Let the market demand and set the standards that commercial photographers must meet. Let the photographer create and redefine what the market place desires.

    I regret having ever stumbled upon this blog.

  • MIchael Shuey March 31, 2010 08:18 am


    I never claimed to know you nor am I "hating" on you...I would imagine that in your heart of hearts you actually know this. I imagine so because you felt so vociferously compelled to drop your resume in our laps.

    Let me admit that I didn't know you from Adam.


    Notice: I commented on the arrogance evident in your comment above. Arrogance is not acceptable whether it is found in the likes of Donald Trump or yourself.

    The more you defend yourself and prattle on about it the more I wonder if the arrogance is not due more to insecurity than anything.

    I still make no claim to know you personally or in any other way.

    Likewise, if you'll notice, I did say that I agreed with the rest of your statement.

    Analogy: My father is one of the most successful "First-Responder" contractors for FEMA in the USA. I say that to say, as such, my father is an extremely successful, self-made business man. For arguments sake he is as successful in his field as you are in yours.However, the last thing he would do is write a book about his field of business or blow his own horn about it on the internet. He is too busy succeeding and achieving goals that have driven him all of his life.

    Just an observation...not an attack...thank you very much.

  • natalie norton March 31, 2010 08:05 am


    hiding. shhhhh.

  • max ferguson March 31, 2010 07:38 am

    Hi Bob.. Nobodies enemy.. but..

    "The arrogance evident in this statement tells me that you are and never were successful in satisfying your clients desires…I would guess that they probably got rid of you.
    It is also hard to imagine that you had such an elite and refined sense of photographic art that it ultimately caused you to be unable to “deal” with paying/potentially paying clients and satisfy their needs and desires. As a corollary to this point I can’t imagined that such a refined talent (eventually frustrated talent-as you elude to) would be wasting away while you pontificate nightly on this blog.
    The rest of your comment was spot on though.
    Please leave the BS elsewhere".

    I don't need that..

    Michael doesn't know me from Adam. I'm just the guy with an a opinion on a blog on the net. I'm also the guy that invented split grade printing nearly 20 years ago, lectured on darkroom techniques all over Britain including the LCP at the Elephant and Back Hill and was considered one of the top 20 darkroom guys in London for a very long time. (Not my words) blah blah.. etc etc..

    I was trying to make light of prima donna clients (and they exist) and generally throw some comments up for grabs. I was trying to avoid the "I am" comments.

    My opinion does come from a long time in the business. So my previous post was to indicate that I indeed knew a maybe a thing or two with some reviews of just the writing part of my career. It matters not a jot whether people agree with my viewpoint. I'm just voicing it and don't need a personal attack from someone who doesn't actually know me.

  • Bob Loosemore March 31, 2010 01:11 am

    "the final print gave no appearance of being manipulated in the camera or the darkroom. Adams was soon to become straight photography’s mast articulate and insistent champion."

    Giving 'no appearance of being manipulated' would surely have been Adams' priority, but the negative stock had way more density range than any paper could handle, so straight prints were never an option in a landscape. As it 'appens, unsharp positive masks were a fantastic manipulator - a low density positive made by contact-printing the neg through a sheet of glass ( so that it was unsharp) and processed to the density required to modify the contrast range when sandwiched with the neg.

    Personally I was enough of a tearaway to fog partially developed negs or positives in the dish for partial reversal, or fog and still-bath develop for 'mackie-lines', which were caused when developer got exhausted around areas that were developing dark areas, and produced outlines in a final print. Etc.

    Many hours spent doing these things, when I should have been out getting work, gave me a perspective on digital editing later perhaps - and I loathe so many of the horrible effects you dislike Natalie, and more so because they are so easy. Beginners have the power to embarrass by not knowing WHAT to do, and delight by doing great things, at next to no cost.

    My advice is simple - do less things, and more subtly. Clear out the rubbish you would not have painted if you were painting a picture.

    I hope you two can be friends now (Mike and Max) And where are you Natalie - building another hornet's nest I hope! Go well and take care, Bob

  • Richard March 30, 2010 11:54 am

    So many people mention Ansel Adams and his post-process. 'm pretty sure this article isn't about not using Photoshop. It's to help people use Photoshop (or other tools) to create timeless images like those of Ansel Adams. For example,

    "Adams began to pursue "straight photography," in which the clarity of the lens was emphasized, and the final print gave no appearance of being manipulated in the camera or the darkroom. Adams was soon to become straight photography's mast articulate and insistent champion. [Ed. Note: Manipulated in this instance meaning altering the clarity or content of the photographed subject matter. Techniques such as "burning" and "dodging", as well as the Zone System, a scientific system developed by Adams, is used specifically to "manipulate" the tonality and give the artist the ability to create as opposed to record.]"


  • max ferguson March 30, 2010 11:48 am

    Michael Shuey

    Whoah!! Thirty+ years in any biz can make you cynical. Trust me trying to shine crap for some people was impossible. Some of my clients were wonderful and appreciative. Don't quite know where you fit in this biz, but I do know where I fit.

    Please leave the abuse out, because it is obvious you know not of what or whom you speak with regards to my ability to deal. My comments were intended as a humorous take on biting ones tongue with difficult clients. Basically I don't wish to have clients.

    I do have some friends I work for. One who is flying me from Australia to England for 2 months to work with organising the digital postproduction of his Australian library shoot. Another of my efforts is a large exhibition of Led Zeppelin photographs earns money to sponsor orphans in Brazil. An exhibition I helped organise crossed the US last year including the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. I have the luxury now of choosing what I do. And no I am far from wealthy.

    I have a modest talent and have put in many years of hard effort to gain a pretty reasonable knowledge in this field. I am published on Photoshop and darkroom processes. These are the reviews to my meagre efforts on Amazon so you be the judge. Trust me I do know my own abilities. I also what they're not.

    'I will buy anything by Max Ferguson... This is a book I want to read and I would imagine that the majority of those involved in darkroom or digital printing would too.'
    Adam Woolfitt - professional digital imaging photographer; founding member of the Digital Imaging Group, London.

    'When [Max Ferguson] gets going on computer usage there's no flannel, just hard-won experience laid out for everyone's benefit Â… I am loathe to praise Max too much, but this is the best digital imaging book IÂ’ve seen. Not just for transferring skills from darkroom to computer but for presenting photographers with a methodology for how to do their digital darkroom work.'
    Joël Lacey, Best of Books 2000, Amateur Photographer, December 2000

    ‘Thanks to his unique combination of experiences, Ferguson is one of almost certainly only a few people who could have written a book like this with such authority… Were it not for the fact that the digital world changes so rapidly, this ought to become classic in the best tradition of digital darkroom masterclass books. As it is, every digital image worker should go out and buy a copy right now.’
    Jon Tarrant, British Journal of Photography, December 2000

    ‘Max Ferguson has put together an easy to read book giving professional ways to achieve on the computer what you would once have done in the darkroom… A must have for any photographer who wants to get the best out of his images.’
    A reader from Amazon.co.uk

    '...well thought out with 'clean' imagery, well-planned screen grabs and a blow-by-blow commentary on the creation of some impressive illustrations. I loved this book for its clarity, simplicity and plain good sense. Suits all levels of experience - from novice to the well-accomplished pro photographer.'
    Better Digital -- Review

    I could go on blowing my own trumpet. I just wanted an interesting conversation with intelligent people. OK?

  • MIchael Shuey March 30, 2010 11:20 am


    You said;

    "I think to go along with the learn-photography-before-you-learn-photoshop point, I am a firm believer that one should learn how to shoot a FILM SLR before claiming to be a professional with a DSLR. With digital, any person with a camera can go back and fix their “oops” moments, so long as they shoot in RAW (and really, you can fix mistakes in JPG, to a certain point). In film, you are pretty much forced to do it right the first time.

    Excellent list. I agree wholeheartedly!"

    Apparently, in your world, a film photograph cannot be post-edited to the same degree as a digital photo.


    dharvell, to extend your line of thought, lets remove all artificial influences on all photos shall we? Lets remove flash lighting/studio lighting, lens filters, all lenses, studio backgrounds, shooting in specific settings, shooting in morning and evening light, all clothing and etc. Those few influences listed here artificially effect the image to a greater degree than Photoshop ever could.
    For every guy holding a digital camera and condemning the use of Photoshop there is a guy holding a 35mm film camera condemning the guy with the digital. For every guy holding a 35mm film SLR and using a dark-room for post-editing there is a guy holding a 35mm SLR condemning him for using a dark-room.

    In all of this the client and the joy of photography is lost in the pointless minutia of the argument.

    Please, don't lose your perspective on this though...I'll take all your customers inn the interim.

    Read more: https://digital-photography-school.com/10-deady-post-processing-sins/comment-page-5#comment-99364#ixzz0jcLiVldh

  • MIchael Shuey March 30, 2010 11:02 am


    I agree with your comments made to Natalie. Bravo.


    You said;

    "That’s why I don’t wish to have clients anymore. I’ve chased them all away. I just got sick of dying a thousand deaths for every tasteless #@%$*%^*^% I had to deal with. I’m going to be an accountant in the next life. I’d be happy to do that for money."
    The arrogance evident in this statement tells me that you are and never were successful in satisfying your clients desires...I would guess that they probably got rid of you.
    It is also hard to imagine that you had such an elite and refined sense of photographic art that it ultimately caused you to be unable to "deal" with paying/potentially paying clients and satisfy their needs and desires. As a corollary to this point I can't imagined that such a refined talent (eventually frustrated talent-as you elude to) would be wasting away while you pontificate nightly on this blog.
    The rest of your comment was spot on though.
    Please leave the BS elsewhere.

    Read more: https://digital-photography-school.com/10-deady-post-processing-sins#ixzz0jcIlwLin

  • Bob Loosemore March 29, 2010 09:22 pm

    @ Natalie - "If you jump into photoshop (or any other editing software for that matter) too soon, you run the risk of not mastering your technique as a photographer."

    I have to say about 'not mastering your technique as a photographer' So what? At the London College of Printing in 1957 I 'mastered' glass plates processed in ID2 in a dish. I did not master producing a negative with a rich range of tones this way. In fact, although obsessed with technique for another 40 years, (and being 80% at least dissatisfied with results!) I cannot think of any reason why a beginner should progress through chemical photography now, (perhaps you did not mean this) or be limited to unmanipulated images.

    The RESULT is what matters. The client must be satisfied, and the 'amateur' (like me now) must enjoy. For OTHERS to enjoy the result it must have something they want to look at twice - or even buy to put on the wall. It's the result that matters not the method.

    Perhaps the raw image is only the first step to the result, and Photoshop provides the other steps. I think you highlighted some good examples of ugly image-making Natalie. There is in fashion and out of fashion for sure, but the brain surely has its own idea of what is right and wrong, and these preferences exist below the conscious level. Because all our brains are made the same way, these preferences influence many viewers. But to differing degrees.

    Cropping - balance of masses and tones - arrangement in the frame - control of 'units' so that they read clearly, - how the 'lines' lead the eye about the page. 5 things to consider in order to 'craft' an image. There are more of course. We won't go into 'message' or 'meaning' !

  • max ferguson March 29, 2010 12:37 pm

    Wow this topic has certainly brought out the comments.

    Connie, I know that, the client is always right moment. That’s why I don’t wish to have clients anymore. I’ve chased them all away. I just got sick of dying a thousand deaths for every tasteless #@%$*%^*^% I had to deal with. I’m going to be an accountant in the next life. I’d be happy to do that for money.

    While I don’t think you need to start with film to make good photographs. An appreciation of film helps. Digital certainly allows for much more post production and covering up for shooting errors. The number clients arses I saved by being really, really good at doing my darkroom job…… See earlier comment about ‘clients.’

    Let’s step away from photography.

    Two years ago I went to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. I saw some truly exquisite paintings from a young Pablo Picasso that were truly fantastic. Everybody thinks that he painted 2 eyes on the side of a head and that was it. This guy could really use a paintbrush. He had so much technique that he could finally ignore it and go for that heart of what he was after… to paint like a child.
    All that capability could be called on at a moments notice.

    Now having the ‘heart’ of an artist doesn’t make anyone an ‘artist’. Having all the techniques, bags of equipment, Photoshop chops, doesn’t make anyone an artist either. The idea is to have a great idea or see a great moment capture it well using your hard earned knowledge of camera operation – no matter what format, film or digital – and turn it into often a good print using, again, all your hard earned knowledge of post production – darkroom or Photoshop. That means probably trying out everything you can think of, even if just having a look at what it does.

    Natalie’s 10 deadly sins are quite often a sign that someone hasn’t had a good idea. It usually a sign that someone is trying to compensate for a really underwhelming shot. I know I did. Most of it pretty bloody woeful. Sometimes you just need to own up to it not being that good.

    By and large her comments are pretty much bang on. If you read what she has written you’ll realise that it’s been written quite light heartedly with wit and humour. That however doesn’t undermine how valid her comments are.

  • DHarvell March 29, 2010 10:23 am

    I think to go along with the learn-photography-before-you-learn-photoshop point, I am a firm believer that one should learn how to shoot a FILM SLR before claiming to be a professional with a DSLR. With digital, any person with a camera can go back and fix their "oops" moments, so long as they shoot in RAW (and really, you can fix mistakes in JPG, to a certain point). In film, you are pretty much forced to do it right the first time.

    Excellent list. I agree wholeheartedly!

  • George March 28, 2010 03:11 am

    Connie, when I read your comment about hating when your clients ask for "fad looks" on their portraits, about the only thing that comes to mind is that when we're producing art for someone, we are often reduced to saying (quietly, out of their earshot): "The client is always right, even when they're wrong." That's the downside to any sort of creative endeavor for pay!

  • Michelle March 28, 2010 12:59 am

    p.s. I went back and read a lot of the posts where people felt the need to defend PS use, but I don't think you were saying that there is anything wrong PS, only not to rely on it to make up for one's own deficits as a photographer...what struck me most about this post, and I agree with 100%, is to perfect the photography technique first, and then use editing to enhance what you have captured if necessary, or requested, or to fulfill your creative gene..at least that's what I gleaned from your post.

  • Michelle March 28, 2010 12:48 am

    Dear Natalie,
    I just read your post and cried because I felt a weight being lifted from my "I'm not good enough" shoulders! I do not own PS, but thought I needed it to be a pro. I do own elements, but I don't really use it much. I kept thinking that there was something wrong with me because I don't do a lot of editing. My weak point right now is lighting, because I don't want to use flash, so that's what I'm working on perfecting. Thank You So Much for this post. Can we keep in touch? Today you are my heroine, no I mean hero, but the female version as in "hero-ine"...~LOL~

  • Connie March 27, 2010 12:46 pm

    hahaha! This was perfect! Everything I've been thinking. I've only been charging for my portrait sessions for 5 months so I know I was guilty of some of that. The thing that bugs me the most is this vintage look fad. My clients specifically ASK for them edited that way- but I hate it!

  • Modesty Sofronenkoff March 26, 2010 09:57 am

    :D :D :D
    Yes Jennifer..I have been thinking in the same ways, when arguing with conservative people :)
    When TV arrived, gosh a wicked thing!!!
    And the entrance of the automobile :D
    actually people thought you would turned crazy if you overspeeded 30 km/h..

    But I don't think it all has to do with age...I think it has to do with how curious, and open minded you are
    or how stuck you are in old fashion thinking..and that has nothing to do with age....just with people....

  • Hugo Villalobos March 26, 2010 04:24 am

    Well, I have to say that I don't agree at all with the points on this article. I think all techniques can be well or wrongly used, and that is what you perceive when you see a photo. I think point number 1 is the only one I would support a hundred percent. I have been learning photography for four years, and I have focused on exposition and composition issues for all this time, but I have lately feld like expressing inner feelings, and I have found that different edition techniques can really give you tools for working on the mood of a photo on a real authentic and valid way. What I mean with this is that there are no limits for creativity, and creative artists will take full advantage to potencialize their artistic expression trough all availble techniques and tools.

  • Jennifer Ressmann March 26, 2010 12:00 am

    This is so funny! It reminds me of a conversation I just had with a wedding photographer friend who talked about all these same ideas! Funny. I started thinking, oh no, we're the old generation now, fighting the new whipper snappers and their crazy ideas! I'm sure people fought TV, the phone, radio, the car! People look back at the beginning of photography and know when it was taken - when the hip thing was a daguerreotype or a tin type. Those radicals!

    For me - it's all just subjective. Which, happily, makes art...art!

  • Rob Bixby March 24, 2010 07:41 am

    I agree with Bob that there are rules even in art. I always tell new photographers to learn the "rules" well enough that you know how to break them and make it look intentional. For instance, the rule that you don't cut off extremities. You break the rule by intentionally cutting off an arm between the shoulder and elbow for a portrait, but cutting off fingertips looks like a mistake.

  • Bob Loosemore March 24, 2010 03:07 am

    @Daniel Mollino. " Photography is art and people need to stop making rules on art. You like and do what you like and do." Substitute 'rule' for 'reason' Are they not the same in this context?

    Art always is and always will be governed by rules. The rules will surely change, and artists will show how rules can be broken - the rules are not what an artist MUST do, they are what is the logic and form distinguishing a work of art from random marks on the paper. Even if random marks are taken and presented as a legitimate and interesting work of art, the presentation must surely have followed rules which other minds can relate to in some way.

    Perhaps you can say that the artist's intentions (conscious or subconscious) are all that is required to define a work of art. But, an object or image can become art in the mind of the viewer who sees something in it, which is what Daniel appears to be saying. The big question is if no-one ELSE sees anything is it art?

    The expression 'Art is what I like' has been around for a long time. Is this not a denial that art exists?

  • Bob Loosemore March 23, 2010 10:14 pm

    @Michael Shuey. As an ex-pro, I can find nothing to disagree with you on your excellent comment above. We used to say that weddings were the hardest commission a photographer was normally faced with - but of course the difficulty, as with all work, is related to the standards the photographer sets for him/herself (as much as by the client)

    How I regret that digital photography came along after I had retired, but I can also see that me being me i would have spent days rather than hours making the most of my shots! I used spotting ink and a surgeon's scalpel extensively, but would never remove completely facial defects. I worked without zooms, changing the lenses on my Mamiya twin-lens as required, and running around a lot. I never worked with smaller than 6x6 formats, and often with larger - even at a wedding! This is the kind of 'hard; i meant Michael, when if you were an artist you had to get as much right before you pressed the shutter.

    The point i was trying to make is that digital techniques give the amateur so many tools they don't know which to use first! The standard of 'amateur' work these days is technically much higher than before, but the volume of appalling rubbish seen is much higher because of the ease of production and clueless editing. Art IS difficult, and the more natural talent you have the harder it is. Thankfully luck is a factor, as you say!

    I look forward to seeing your work - if this is possible. Bob

  • Leslie Nicole March 23, 2010 06:07 pm

    I found myself thinking the other day of "fads" in photography. There will always be styles that come about with new technologies. That doesn't take away from the fact that there are great works of art in any style. Styles change with the techniques available. Photography in it's inception was soft focus. There is stunning work from that era. Then the f64 movement came about with Ansel Adems and Edward Weston. There's been hand coloring, Polaroid transfers, platinum prints, cross-processing. There is no such thing as a photograph that hasn't been interpreted by the available technology of the day.

    I was thinking about that "fad" called Impressionism. I bet there was a lot of really bad Impressionist wannabees back then. I've studied art history. There are always movements. There will be those creating art in those movements and those following. An example today is textures. Sure, someone can grab a free texture off Flickr, slap it in a layer and call it art - but one can also carefully arrange texture layers with masks to create a balanced beautiful piece. What difference does it make if I painted a backdrop and put it behind my still life before photographing it or if I place a background afterwords in Photoshop? Why does one have merit over another? Many techniques in the camera and studio and even in nature are artifice. Is using a flash less of an artifice than doing selective enhancements in Photoshop?

    If it gives someone pleasure in doing as much as they can in the camera, Cool - go for it!, but to rigidly claim that is the only way is rigid and narrow-sighted. In many of the examples I've seen online of people proudly announcing that their image had no Post-processing - it badly needed it!

  • MIchael Shuey March 23, 2010 11:51 am


    You said, "But I am awfully afraid our wonderful wonderful craft is just not ‘hard enough’ for amateurs any more...":

    Everybody and their brother has at one time or another "painted by number". Some have picked up a fishing pole and caught a monster fish. The same is true in photography. What separates the pro photog from the wannabes is the daily task of capturing/making photos for the satisfaction of themselves and also for their customer. Wannabe's will fail in any number of ways at this and then quit. They will only mimmick and never define and then tire of it.

    Taking a top-fuel photo is as hard as it ever was. Only the pro can take 100 photos and out of those 70 to 80 might work. This is the case because they have to feed their families, to one degree or another, by their art. The wannabe can maybe keep only 10% of the photos and even then, even after editing, maybe one or two will meet the "pro" standard. The mastery of capturing fleeting light effects and translating them artfully is still a b*#^h for the average bear not to mention the pro. What about handling all aspects of a wedding professionally and successfully; the differences between pros in this can sometimes be quite large let alone considering the ineptitude of the average amateur in comparison. How many times have you heard the horror stories of wannabes burning and running and neglecting?

    That being said, please don't take away or make any harder my PhotoShop program. PhotoShop is what I use to edit my photos. If Ansel Adams could heavily edit his photos then let me heavily edit mine.

    Bottom line, could you imagine a bride informing you of her admiration for the cheesy B&W portrait/pose with just the bouquet in hand painted in color (you know the one) and you in turn informing her that as a "professional" you cannot in good conscience provide her with such a "Photoshopped"/doctored photo?
    If you tell her that will you give her my number please when she tells you she'll look elsewhere for a photographer? I'll produce that photo for her and then, in addition, shoot some very professional and unique photos for her and her husband which will separate me from you and also the wannabes in the crowd.

  • Bob Loosemore March 23, 2010 02:35 am

    Well written Natalie, a theme you could develop, and so true that people retouch rubbish so that it just becomes dishonest rubbish. But I am awfully afraid our wonderful wonderful craft is just not 'hard enough' for amateurs any more, and 'craft' is something for geeks (is that right - I'm too old for my own good) Go well, Bob

  • kelly March 22, 2010 12:49 am

    Exactly Modesty and there is always the delete button ;)

  • Modesty Sofronenkoff March 21, 2010 06:40 pm

    Yes as Max ferguson said..manipulation isn't something new!
    & as I have pointed out before..
    use the tools with joy, then you learn how to use them

    more...whats good or bad is actually a matter of taste.
    Not wrong or right...

    I really wanna spread to the newbies (those who are new in photographing),
    don't be afraid to try everything in photography..there is nothing like this you can't do or that is the wrong way.
    Dare to explore & be open minded, experiment wildly! Then you will learn & having fun during the way :)

  • kelly March 21, 2010 08:45 am

    Max i love all your peanut gallery commentaries....I'm a beginning photographer and as far as I'm concerned its all art....and it always up for interpretation because everybody's got an opinion good bad or indifferent. There is nothing like taking 2000 photos at a wedding and finding one that you say thats it. All the stars aligned and its magical but to get a few more you just might have to tweek it baby.

  • MIchael Shuey March 21, 2010 06:03 am

    I will only bother to disagree with point number 1, which disagreement should indicate how I feel about the rest of the article.
    My disagreement with 1. "Don't buy Photoshop right out of the gate." goes something like this:

    Ansel Adams would sometimes spend an entire day post-processing a single photo (dodge, burn and etc) until he got it "right". It has been said by Ansel's contemporaries that "40%" of the process involved in the making of one of his photo's was due to post-processing.
    Since I don't invest 40% of one of my photos into post-processing maybe I am missing the boat. Secondly, unless the photo conveys what you the photographer (or your customer) want it to convey then you better do what needs to be done. People who limit themselves by false bravado and fanciful ideals (not grounded in reality) such as this are no threat to my happiness or business.

  • pepi pielismaa March 20, 2010 05:39 pm

    If you don't try and experiment, you'll never find your own style. This applies to both taking the photos and post-processing it. You want to be creative in photography so no sense to be non-creative in the post-processing.

    If you do it for yourselves, you are your own judge. If for others, let the clients choose. You shouldn't be intimidated by someone not approving what you do. Successful people seldom listen to others opinion what is proper and what not.

    On the other hand, wise people listen to prudent advices though :)

  • max ferguson March 20, 2010 05:15 pm

    You might have gathered that I'm quite passionate about photography. I'm passionate about music, it's just that I'm a bit average at that. I have very nice guitars but I wouldn't dream of charging anybody to hear me play.. You'd all want your money back. :-)

    Every now and then I stumble onto a forum that looks interesting, say what I think and maybe somebody gets what I'm saying. I used to teach this stuff all over England and my main message was always, do it because you have to and make it about the image. The rest is just about the stuff you use which isn't really about anything really.

  • max ferguson March 20, 2010 05:07 pm

    Irving Penn was once asked "Do you use available light?"
    His reply was "Yes. Any light that is available"

    My take on that is you use what works.

    I use pinhole cameras, a Nikon D200, a Canon G9, an Epson scanner for scanning things directly including dead toads, leaves, flowers, dead beetles, dragonflies, stones, shells, corkscrews. In the past I've used Hasselblads, many Nikons, Sinar 4x4. I've owned Leitz & Durst enlargers. I now use Mac(s) with Photoshop, Lightroom a Canon iPF5000 printer. It's an impressive list of equipment over nearly 40 years. It has been my job and what wags my tail. It's the same as a carpenter having routers & drills and saws. It enables. Nothing is better than anything else. Everything is used for what it enables me to do. Lightroom has the same RAW processing front end as Photoshop. It isn't better, I use it when I'm working with a lot of pictures. If there is real "hero' shot in there I open it in Photoshop and stroke it the same as when I used to print in a darkroom.

    The point is I don't actually care if anybody likes anything I do anymore as long as I find my own meaning.
    What I do is image led. I'll use 'any light available'.

  • ryszard March 20, 2010 01:54 pm

    Well....it is the point in this discussion.. And I have to agree it is better to process photos in Lightroom than Photoshop..:-)) Adobe under the pressure of “traditionalist” develop program much less graphic driven, Lightroom .....If you still believe use of Lightroom is a sin than is time for me to withdraw and switch to watercolor or go 3D and sculpture something in the stone using only hands and bronze chisel.

  • George Beltzhoover March 20, 2010 12:03 pm

    We've all seen photographs with elements dropped in from another source (sky, etc.) that looked totally out of place. I submit that it takes a great deal of talent and practice to know how to match them seamlessly. Like Max and others, including myself, have said good photography has always been manipulated one way or another. Even some of the Civil War photos showing bloated bodies taken with the primitive equipment and processes available in the 1860's were many times staged for effect. That is what art is about. Translating our vision from an idea to a reality. Whether we are dealing with photography, painting, sculpture, music, the written word, or any other creative endeavor. If all we are about is recording "reality" we might just as well go get a point & shoot box, and let Olan Mills shoot our portraits for us on their assemble line.

  • Max ferguson March 20, 2010 10:41 am

    Sorry to dissapoint you Jim, every element of heavy manipulation has been in existence since the beginning of photography. The famous Capra shot of the soldier dying. Posed. The lovers in Paris. You should see the contact sheet. They 'loved' all over Paris. The chap who photographed the Shackleton expedition to the south pole dropped in dramatic skies into his war correspondence photographs from The Great War in France. I think his name was Frank Hurley.

    I used a printers mezzo screen to fake grain with pictures taken with a 10x8 camera. Very nice they looked too. It's part of the process. It was all done long before computers. Now I can do the same with Alien Skin Exposures 2 filter in Photoshop. Same thing.

    Too pick up a camera capture a moment in the real world and present it as print on a piece of paper is itself manipulation. I never won a competition. Stopped trying. As long as my clients liked what I did for them back in the day, and paid for it, and as long as I like what I'm doing for me now, that's a win for me. I do know what you mean, though.

    Is it a good picture? Does it tell you something? Photographs aren't really the facts. Unless it's an Xray for your dentist. They are images.

  • Jim Weatherhead March 20, 2010 08:28 am

    Love this article and agree with it completely.
    Whilst not completely a dinosour I cannot abide those who heavily manipulate photographs, add skies from other photos, partially colour, add texture then submit their work as a photograph to a competition and claim a victory when they win, over others who have learned their photographic skills the photographic way.

  • Max ferguson March 20, 2010 12:00 am

    ryszard I don't think this was a golden rule "You must never ever do this or the jazz police will visit and take away your Nikon"

    I think it was a look at common pitfalls people make when they finally get Photoshop. I think Natalie's take was pretty good and had some wiggle room and not to be taken so seriously.

    Many people Photoshop the S#$% out of everything and it looks it. I did it myself, until I got a handle on it. It was so liberating to use the stamp tool to get rid of blemishes or little marks. With final darkroom prints I had to sit and spot all the little dust marks and maybe scrape back the print emulsion carefully with a scalpel to lighten some wrinkles. If I messed up I had to make another print.

    I could make a more contrasty image just by pushing a Curve etc etc. Then I got back to looking at the image and not the toys.

    Photography is great. You can use film or digital, expensive multi megapixel beasts or cheap plastic cameras. With a good idea well realised great pictures can be made. Nothing beats a great idea well visualised and well crafted.

    The toys are just tools. My point has always been that too many people get bogged down with the toys and trends and forget about what the image is about.

  • Max ferguson March 19, 2010 11:41 pm

    Suzette. The best advice I can give is slow down and think about what you're taking a picture of, why you're taking it and what you're trying to say about it. Then how do I set my camera to do this. After awhile when your technique improves you'll only be thinking about the image and the rest becomes second nature.

    The better you do with the camera, the less you need to do in Photoshop.

    You'll reach a point where you know just what you need to do in Photoshop (darkroom) before you take the picture. Maybe I want it really contrasty, B&W, with maybe just a hint of a warm sepia. Maybe I'll use a long shutter speed and get some blur. If I put it on a tripod that can stay nice and sharp and the people will just be streaks with a long shutter. They're just examples.

    What your trying to say about your subject often tells you what you need to do. Both with the camera and your post production software.

    Watch any really good musician. They don't really look at their instrument, they know what it does, they're thinking about the music.

    Better pictures come with practise and then some more practise.

  • ryszard March 19, 2010 12:54 pm

    It is time to remind the youngsters of similar discussion when color was introduced to photography
    The real art photographers use only Black and white and the lacking talent and good taste armature use color….it was a sin to shoot color.. later only shoot and point was a real camera and reflex was a sin……then 6x6 now Photoshop…..if you like organic go organic..Use a pin hole camera but do not talk about others work, concentrate on your own..Is no such thing like 10 commandments in photography and is not such thing like sin. ” You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor, including Photoshop.:-))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

  • Suzette March 19, 2010 11:54 am

    AHH HA HA HA HA!!!!!! I'm laughing because this is so me. I'm regretting it too because I am frustrated spending too much time in post processing photos because of my poor technique. I'm embarrassed!!! So, how do you suppose you fix this problem?!

  • Jeremy C March 19, 2010 09:48 am

    I'm not a fan of photoshopping myself. Although I've seen some great overworked stuff, I consider them to be more like digital paintings than photographs. Sometimes I do crop or go b/w, never anything else. Before I started taking photographs I wrote myself a philosophy or style I wanted to portray. I want a photo i take to make the viewer see something they usually pass over, and (hopefully) make them try and look around more themselves afterwards to see these cool/beautiful things that they are missing out on. So heavy editting or removing of objects just doesn't fit with what I'm trying to do.

  • modesty Sofronenkoff March 19, 2010 06:03 am

    Well On Natalies exemple most of it looks tacky..& that is because she want to make her point....
    all tools can be used very elegant if you wanna..
    Do NEVER hesitate to try!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Fooooook all the besserwisers and enjoy the ride by learning!

  • jackie March 19, 2010 02:26 am

    I'm happy to say I've never done the excessive vignette haha...I think it appears tacky...

  • Max ferguson March 18, 2010 04:37 pm

    Occasionally. I'm heading over to England in May to help a friend sort a new system and organise all his library stuff. He shoots for Getty. We are planning a major show for Sydney in 2012. It'll be a joint exhibition of 40 years of work. Some my friends, some of mine and some collaborative. I'm aiming at having it open on my 60th birthday.

    You can find my book on Amazon. It's over 10 years old so my techniques have shifted as software gets cleverer. The basics are quite sound. Most of them are based on 30 years of darkroom work. I also write occasionally for Better Photoshop techniques in Australia.

  • Author: natalie norton March 18, 2010 03:27 pm


    Are you for sale? I'd like to buy you and bring you to hawaii to do all things photoshop for me.

  • Max ferguson March 18, 2010 02:12 pm

    Kelly.. that's the way to live. careful we could seriously head way off topic ;-)

  • kelly March 18, 2010 01:10 pm

    Gorgeous place max...i live in discovery bay....google that.

  • Max ferguson March 18, 2010 11:51 am

    All of that said. I often spend hours 'working' an image in Photoshop. The bold moves are usually easy. The nuances are what takes the time. Photoshop often has too many choices. So I work through a lot of them before I finally hit print. Sometimes I wont hit print. I'll come back later. Sometimes later is months.

    The great thing about Photoshop is I can do that. I can delay decisions. There is no chemistry slowly killing me or suffering from the slow depression that a lifetime in the dark gives you by the end of every London winter.

    I now live by a beach in Australia.

    Fortunately I've fired all my clients. I only have one client left and that would be me. I've become an amateur photographer at last. The best bit is I don't have to be at work on time, I don't have to put up with some awful prima donna photographer who thinks he's the greatest thing since the late great Bob Carlos Clarke and there is no such thing as a deadline.

    The downside I don't have any money. Would I swap it? Just Google Byron Bay and have a guess.

    My photographic maxim is always. - Let Taste Prevail.

  • Paul Saulnier March 18, 2010 11:09 am

    @max thanks for saying what i think ....no photoshop miracle can make a bad picture great ...hell no ...and here is my 2 cents ...most photoshot photographers i know make the pictures look so damn cheezy ...weddings omg ....the worst ...keep it organic people ...and shoot in raw for god sakes

  • Author: Natalie Norton March 18, 2010 11:08 am


    I really like your comment, a lot.

  • kelly March 18, 2010 11:06 am

    Very well said Max!

  • Max ferguson March 18, 2010 11:02 am

    Sorry I was being a little flip.. I do test Photoshop for Adobe and have written a book quite awhile ago on digital darkroom. My first royalty cheque bought me a stunning Les Paul Gibson guitar. I've always wanted one.

    Also way back in the early 1990's I devised a darkroom method now commonly referred to as Split Grade Printing. Yes, you can blame me for the confusion that created.

    Photographic post production is something I have a little experience in. I've seen some of the best and some of the worst examples of professional photography.

    Most of Natalies 'sins' are pretty accurate.

    The problem is most people emulate, some just outright plagiarise the examples that are currently fashionable. It's often a case of "I want my photos to look like ____ (insert name of appropriate lens hero)."

    The trick is to find your own eye and let taste prevail when you either print it (darkroom) or take it into Photoshop/ Lightroom/ Aperture etc. By taste I mean, what makes the image work not what the current flavour is.

    No matter how much digital fairy dust you throw at a picture you will never make a bad picture good. You'll only disguise it for a short time.

    That's only an opinion, but it comes from making a living for a long time out of exactly what we're talking about.

  • kelly March 18, 2010 10:37 am

    Oh ha ha ;), guess I don't know you well enough to hear your sarcasm....I envy talented people like you (no sarcasm).

  • Max ferguson March 18, 2010 10:12 am

    I wasn't being serious. Mind you i did make an image that looks photographic using brushes and Grads downloaded from the Adobe website. it's a little sunset with trees and a boat floating on the water. A little clichéd perhaps but absolutely no use of a lens anywhere.

  • kelly March 18, 2010 10:02 am

    Just a little extreme Max don't ya think?

  • Max ferguson March 18, 2010 08:57 am

    With 10 sins I'd say the 4 filters of the apocalypse will pay a visit.

    i wouldn't bother taking a picture - there will be nothing left anyway - just start with a blank document and Photoshop the sh$% out of it. There won't be any difference.

  • Skip Nelson March 18, 2010 07:02 am

    Travis this sounds like a 'Throw Down Challenge'!
    We should have a 'Throw Down' to see who can apply all 10 PS techniques the most creatively to one of their
    images...and have the honor of being.."Top Dog PS Sinner of All Time!"

    Unfortunately, I have to go out of town until Monday.....but...I do hear the PS Devil calling my name :-)

  • George Beltzhoover March 18, 2010 06:23 am

    Travis, if you applied all of the above "sins", then you would be in deep, deep trouble with the PS police. You might even be in jeopardy of losing your PS license!

  • Travis Forsyth March 18, 2010 06:19 am

    What if I apply all of the above "sins"? :D

  • Chris March 17, 2010 11:41 am

    I must admit, I find this article a bit disappointing. So much of this site is really inclusive and level-headed. This - along with most of the comments underneath - feels a bit like the school kids I work with sitting around and giggling about the year's fashion, and people who aren't up to date. It's so subjective it's actually a bit juvenile, like the staffers in 'The Devil Wears Prada'. And I know that there's a disclaimer in it, but if the article really is so flexible that people can ignore it or not, it might as well have been called '10 Things I Personally Don't Like In Photoshop', or maybe more helpfully, '10 Things That Are Currently Out of Fashion with Photographers in Photoshop'.

    Sorry, but it didn't do it for me. Partly that's because I don't agree with every rule here, I'll admit, but mostly it's that elitism, which is normally not on this site, but which I think got into this article and comment thread.

  • Nina March 17, 2010 05:31 am

    That was great. Well said. I'll never claim to be a Photoshop Master and am very proud of that.

  • mancandy March 17, 2010 12:45 am

    Here is a list of sinners that Popular photography voted to be the best in wedding photography: http://www.popphoto.com/Features/Top-10-Wedding-Photographers-2009
    Some of the same “photoshopographers" are key note speakers at WPPI and other events.
    Sheeps are paying big mula to attend their workshops.
    I personally don't have problem with photographers or photoshoppers pushing the envelope.
    So what are we to do? follow Natalie's advice or be sheep.

  • Adam Cavanagh March 14, 2010 06:37 pm

    Great post! Good tips for everyone.

  • Rob Bixby March 14, 2010 11:41 am

    Yolanda makes a great point. When retouching a person, it is easy to lose the personality. I've seen images of a beautiful young lady that has a mole on her cheek. The photographer edited out the mole. Maybe subduing it would work, but completely removing it removed part of who the girl was. The trick is to enhance, not replace.

  • Yolanda March 13, 2010 07:22 pm

    I had my pictures taken in a professional studio. Despite the imperfections I have on my face, I think my pictures came out really nice. A friend of mine who is a photographer and has done lots of enhancement using Photoshop, did me a favor of "cleaning up" one of my pictures. Boy, did I look 10 years younger and really very pretty on the enhanced photo. She asked if I want to use it as my profile picture on my site, I politely said, "I prefer to keep the profile picture that I have right now." What was wrong with my enhanced picture? It just didn't feel right to deduct another 10 years off my age. At 60, I already look at least five years younger, and I am happy with that. I am a mother of four and a grandmother of six. I want to look glamorous but not over-glamorous.

  • George Beltzhoover March 13, 2010 12:52 pm

    I've read the article, and read the responses, and I think we all as photographers of many skills, ages, and interests have some really great tools to use with the advent of the digital age (both camera and PS). The key to a happy ending is to learn to use our tools well, and to use them with purpose.

    Those who call themselves "purists" seem to have forgotten that possibly the greatest master of fine art B&W photography, Ansel Adams, was not afraid to modify his processes to bring his imagined image to life. In fact, he was an expert at manipulating his exposure, film development, and print imaging however he needed in order to bring his vision to completion.

    One of the problems with the digital age is that we can make things happen with just a few clicks that it took film photographers years to master, so it is easy for someone to overwork an image "because they can", and haven't yet learned how to go beyond the program and into the art. That is when the results look clumsy.

    Great discussion!

  • Modesty Sofronenkoff March 13, 2010 01:57 am

    I have photographed for many ears now....mostly analog but the last 10 digital as well.........

    an article like this just scares newbies away I think......from learning by the "trial & error" way...

    I guess it's with a nice intention written...but I'm affraid it will be the opposite for some..
    don't do this...pointing fingers......

    If you'll learn to master a tool you have to be openminded & try to, like a child with no limits
    learn...then you have the opertunity to learn the tool your own way..not guided from a
    so called teacher........and be able to make your own "finger-print".

    I use textures made by my own..I use vignette...I don't retushe peoples faces If they don't ask me specific
    I use tones..sepia or what ever the costumer wants. ..& what ever I whant!
    I use selective colours to...(they did so on the analoge black n white time as well..but hand coloured the photos) :) I have tried that to.....

    Why are you folks so against challenges & find new ways? & why are you telling the newbies What they are going to do? Dont you think they will learn by their own mistakes?

    I'm a swede I have not English as my main language!

    Finally..my message to all newbies...adding from the first one.."try the shit out of every tool"!
    view as many pics as possible...painted, photographed...and scenes from real life :)

  • Max ferguson March 12, 2010 09:36 pm

    Mike I couldn't agree more. I think good Photoshop use is like a good printer (darkroom). I have seen some bad Photoshop and some really bad printers that can really kill a good image.

  • Mike March 12, 2010 08:20 pm

    I've been a Photoshop Pro for over 12 years, used to manipulating photos mainly for advertising (images, not strictly photos). I only got into photography in the last year or so. Even though I can do all of the techniques listed above to a high standard, one thing I have found is that a good photo is a good photo and no amount of photoshop will make it a great photo!

  • Sue @ Collage Picture Frames March 12, 2010 02:39 am

    Must admit I use photoshop on my images practically every day and for the amateur digital photographers like myself I think it's fantastic.

    I know effects can be taken too far and must admit to being guilty of most of the above examples (bows head in shame, ) ;) but I suppose it's like everything there's a learning curve and you learn by your over processed mistakes.


  • Max ferguson March 11, 2010 09:53 am

    Absolutely bang on, except the vignette. Having spent 30 years in darkrooms the amount of vignetting I did for very pro photographers was ridiculous. That said, it was more a case of balancing an image in the darkroom.

    Good "burning in" (digital or darkroom) doesn't look like overt vignetting. Mind you a slight un-obvious darkening of the corners often pulls an image together. A bright white corner can often lead the eye out of the image never to return.

    Good post production is one where your skill doesn't show. As Ansel Adams said the negative (Raw file) is the score, the print is the performance.

  • Melissa March 11, 2010 01:39 am

    Best laugh I've had all day. You speak the truth, Natalie. I freelance and do post-production for photographers that include photoshop and album design. I cannot tell you how many "photographers" use Photoshop as a crutch to try and make themselves look good. And some of the images I see are downright hideous.

  • alan March 10, 2010 01:15 am

    hahaha!! this was really funny!

    though i, too, thought HDR would make this list for sure.

  • Natalie Norton March 9, 2010 04:18 pm

    Just to be clear, I like photoshop. A lot. I use it every day. This is in NO WAY an anti post processing campaign.

  • julie March 9, 2010 11:26 am

    I agree. But, sometimes photoshop can come in handy for the technicalities. Like this weekend, I shot an event that took place in a poorly lit church, so shooting in RAW and then tuning up the exposure in ps does help the photos a bit. Otherwise, I am a very "natural" photographer, I don't use ps for anything else much except converting files from Raw to jpeg, cropping, black and white, requests for removing blemishes, and the occasional technical difficulty such as this weekend. :)

  • James Brown March 9, 2010 11:16 am

    Also, its obvious that Natalie is talking about general photographic work and portraits here, not creating the latest Polysics album cover, or becoming Andy Warhol, so in this place her advice is very valid I feel. I can't agree enough about point #1, it can be as damaging to your development as a photographer as sticking with that 18-270 kit lens you were given with the plastic camera body in your hands ("I mean, why would you need anything else?") But hey, whatever's your bag. If you want to level horizons on the computer for every picture you take, or want to take a picture of a snail 2 kilometres away without moving an inch then DO AND LOVE IT! And hope that you find someone else who loves you doing it to (unless you don't care what others think in which case you're a king among men and clearly far superior to this saggy bag of boots.)

  • James Brown March 9, 2010 11:00 am

    Natalie- Dude- the only thing I disagree with here is you incessant apologies. Damn girl, these people need to be told! I totally agree- I downloaded Gimp the minute I got back into photography, and immediately proceeded to make all these mistakes! But 6 months later I was over it. Over processing is right up there with buying the latest camera (not looking at anyone in particular canon 7d and nikon 300s ("Yes, that's right, it's the S model. No, not the original, I decided to go for the S, it's worth paying the extra.")) to improve your photography. I have seen so many supposed "professional" photographers over the last couple of years here in Okinawa that would totally benefit from your article! Keep it up!

  • Phillip Edwards March 9, 2010 07:30 am

    What a fabulous article. Very funny indeed. More please, more.

  • Simon Walden March 9, 2010 12:51 am

    Ha ha - one man's cliche is another man's fashion statement!!

  • Marjorie B March 8, 2010 05:36 am

    Photoshop (or similar software) is absolutely essential for digital. It's the digital darkroom, and yes, it has some tricks that can be overplayed, but each and every one of them has a valid use as well. For instance, is it over-processing to remove or distort the background so much you don't know where the shot was taken? That's a pretty hefty change to the picture. Yet by doing that, and a few other little tricks, I saved a very ordinary snapshot my brother took of my mom in the last year of her life. It was taken on the spur of the moment on one of her good days, i.e. she got out of bed that day. I got rid of the walker, the dresser with the sweater-sleeve peeking out of a drawer, the clutter of pill-bottles on the table, and the peeling wallpaper; I kept my mom dressed up hin her pretty pink blouse, and the smile that could light up the whole room. It's a portrait I can display on my desk or mantle to see every day, not a snap I have to hide in an album and see once a year. Don't be afraid to use Photoshop, just remember to also use your good taste and common sense.

  • Bill Dobbs March 8, 2010 04:21 am

    I couldn't agree with Natalie more. It's about time someone stood up and pointed out passing fads, overdone effects, and personal statements that are often a replacement for good photography.
    That said, there is a wonderful place that welcomes extreme post-processing and it's called Art; be it abstract, surreal, cubist, whatever. The key is not to mix extreme concepts with simple, straight-up photography.

  • Modesty Sofronenkoff March 7, 2010 06:47 pm

    *sigh* the debate goes on and on..against or with...

    I personally don't give a damn! :)
    What I choose It depends on what I wanna achieve... If I don't use or Do use..

    I do whatever I like, whenever I like..no matter what!

    SO my advice; play the Shit out of every tool you can get into your hands and the you learn,
    so you further on know how to use them tools to achieve what you wanna express :)

  • Enrolled Agent Exam March 7, 2010 02:22 pm

    Funny post. I wonder what it would look like if you combined all of these fabulous techniques into a single image. More is better...right?

  • Mark March 7, 2010 01:01 am

    While I agree that I don't personally like things that are taken to extremes, I also do not like the premise of this article.

    It seems to me to be the difference between the photo journalist (100% in the camera or accused of manipulation) and the artist (anything goes).

    Before digital, you learned to get it in the camera until you advanced enough to do your own dark room work. Then you could learn all kinds of PP work!!! And again, anything goes!!! Dodge and burn, layered negatives, tons of dark room tricks to make your photos stand out!!! Ansel Adams himself taught these in advanced classes. But for beginners, his classes started with a piece of cardboard with a rectangle cut out in the middle so that the students could learn to "frame shots" everywhere they went!!!!

    Photoshop (or Gimp for the poor folks) is just the new dark room!!!!!! If you go there too soon without learning to shoot photography, it will show in your work.

    Recently, I took a burst of pictures of a male mallard duck in a grassy area off of a parking lot. Unfortunately, the best image had a cigarette butt near his foot. Do I scrap an otherwise great image because of the butt??? No, I just clone it out of the picture!! Is that a photoshop sin?? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!

    All of you "pros" out there crying about the post processing newbies need to get over it. A true market economy reigns. If you are losing clients to the aforementioned newbies, then you need to re-evaluate the market. What the customer buys is what you should be doing!!!! The true photo purist is just one form of an artist and may or may not be marketable. If you do not adapt to the market, you will fade into obscurity. Just simple economics.

    Those that do photography for themselves as artists - anything goes if it pleases you since you are the "customer". If others like your style and are willing to pay for it - all the better!!!!!

  • Horst-H. Zocher March 6, 2010 07:10 pm

    Great post, it reminded me to do my post processing with moderation and self-control.
    Thank you.

  • daniel mollino March 6, 2010 04:39 pm

    Kelcey , In photoshop you can recover an image and make it "better focused" however it will never be perfect unless you well take a long time but bringing a unfocused image back to be a little better "focused / sharp"

    duplicating your image layer
    Filter - Highpass
    Change layer mode to softlight

    you will need to mess with the highpass filters setting to get what you want but its relitavely simple way of bringing sharpness back

    as for the highlights
    duplicating your image layer
    ctl + shift + alt + ~
    Select inverse
    make layer soft light

    If you work these two you can usually recover an image to some degree, however it will never be the same as if it was taken properly

  • Gretchen March 6, 2010 03:15 pm

    This post is a little passive aggressive, no? This is "digital" photography school blog. From what I've seen one of the biggest "sins" of photography would be imitating someone elses work.

  • ryszard March 6, 2010 02:39 pm

    It is not exactly true. You can fix out of focus pictures in Photoshop..:-)))) often…more than I will like to I’m involve in the process of bringing fuzzy and out of focus images from security cameras to focus….not professionally more like a helping hand to the police. I started this process many years ago and is done in Photoshop…it takes time and whole bunch plug inns but you be surprise what can be done..On the end may be is not a picture any longer but is sharp and you can ease tell who did it…))))))))
    Listen to your teacher you may learn something useful ……sometimes you cannot shoot another picture and you have to make an effort to save wherever it is there...don’t be frustrated by other people work..Focus on yours...in last 30+ years I spend photographing the planet I continually learn something new every day. Photoshop is a endless tool. I personally thing even people who wrote a program have no Idea how to use it…)))) Till now I have shoot “terabytes and terabytes” of pictures but somehow I do not have even one…. perfect.

  • meg March 6, 2010 01:20 pm

    Bwhahahahahahahaha!!!!! guilty!!! one recent image featured 5,8,9 AND 10!!! ...

  • kelly March 6, 2010 12:51 pm

    I agree with the majority of the article and comments too. Have to say guilty to all but again in moderation. However, given the subject. Trust me for boudoire photography, really classic tasteful photos should be simple and very little make up, but thats when you're photography 20 something almost perfect women. Try going natural and no photoshop on a 55+ women....doesn't work too well and their not happy about not wearing cute lingerie and no makeup...ehehehe there's my 2 cents.

  • Kelcey Olson March 6, 2010 12:46 pm

    My photography teacher is definitely a photoshopaholic. She swears by it and teaches the class that it's as necessary as oxygen.
    I have had kids in my class ask me how to fix very blurry photos or out of focus photos with photoshop and they act like I'm keeping some sort of secret when I say it can't be fixed. A conversation usually goes like this.

    Classmate: "Can you show me how to fix this photo? My camera didn't focus right when I took it."
    Me: "Uhh it can't be fixed...just retake it."
    Classmate: "No seriously, how do you fix it? Like an unsharp mask or what?"
    Me: "There's no way to fix it in photoshop, sorry."
    Classmate: "Ya I know, just show me what to do to make it unblurry."

    It's kind of frustrating. What's even more frustrating is people that use the fake sunflare on a picture taken inside. Who are you kidding? Your wall isn't the sun.

  • Queen March 6, 2010 12:00 pm


    Forgive me for my broken English... if you don't get it what I was talking about. Not my fault cuz my English is VERY limited.

    Now for my personal humble opinion.

    Photoshop is not a sin. In vintage days, they drew a pencil on many pictures to create more bold or some lacking (hands, some whatever) even erase on bad spots on face (a.k.a freckles) or smooth the faces, etc.. many more for Hollywood, fashion, even outdoor, and whatever... even they used a cardboard to create a faux shadow, and many more.. Just like Photoshop. They did!

    I know some people gone too far like your "Warning 10 deadly processing sins" ... that makes me cringe and laugh! True. I often see on some people did add bad "tubes" from Paintshop Pro on pictures... *choke* You know.. what can I say? Many people do not see things even themselves, too. I've seen the worse. They did the best they could! Maybe all my photos are full of crap, I bet but it's my own eyes, they are FINE, some people happened to love my photos or maybe they pretend to love them. I don't care! Anyway, I refuse to follow EVERYONE's photography rules" I have my own rule, period. I believe each person have their own rules. I rather to see people to be proud and happy. Be free.. do whatever they like. Art is an art is an art and of course is an art! I myself prefer my photos to be more natural and less Photoshop and of course still using Photoshop. Zero guilty!

    Express your photos with PS or not!


  • annie jones March 6, 2010 09:52 am

    errmmmm guilty guilty GUILTY! And yep I look back at some of my work and cringe - especially the selective colouring!!!! Oh the shame!

  • Joy March 6, 2010 09:23 am

    Ha ha ha, great post! Very good and true! I agree with you on all of the points you made, and I think you have a knack for hilarity!

  • aj March 6, 2010 08:27 am

    Colour film took processing, at least for most of us, out of the camera out of the dark room and delivered it into the lab. Digital brings it back to the photographer / artist. It is there to be used and abused. I loved the article, makes me think more about getting the best 'raw' material i.e. the picture in the camera and some of the fun things that could make my post processing picture look dated, weird, artificial, creepy and the rest.

    Most importanlty, you made me smile... thanks.

  • Carrie March 6, 2010 07:35 am

    This was hilarious! I can think of a few people I'd like to get to read this advice...the truth hurts, don't it ;) I admit, I learned photoshop (selftaught via the Internet) to fix my pics before I ever got a real camera and started learning photography (we're still learning!). I loved the violent slap thing...it's easier to fix little stuff before you shoot it anyway...(thinking of patching out a hundred stray hairs from kids' eyes).

  • Jason E. March 6, 2010 07:21 am

    If you use 2 of the above mentioned items do they cancel each other out and make a spectacular photograph? LOL.- Great article it made me laugh!!!

  • Tronam March 6, 2010 04:31 am

    "Sometimes using an action makes a photographer feel that a not so great image becomes great. Not true. A not so great image remains a not so great image!"

    Not necessarily. This greatly depends upon what aspect of the image you feel is "not so great". If you're referring to the actual composition being poor, then I would completely agree. But if you are talking about lighting, color saturation, contrast etc... even highlight/shadow recovery or bokeh, almost all of these aspects can be adjusted in Photoshop and if done well will never be noticed without knowing what the in-camera shot looked like. The lesson to learn in all of this has nothing to do with *not* using Photoshop, it is learning how to use all of the tools at your disposal properly and tastefully.

  • Donna Lere March 6, 2010 03:36 am

    Great points! General clean up of an image is a good thing. However, photographers are always in competition with each other to come up with the most artsy image they can produce. Just because you have all the tools in your tool box doesn't mean you should use all of them. Sometimes using an action makes a photographer feel that a not so great image becomes great. Not true. A not so great image remains a not so great image!

  • Jenn @ CanvasPop March 6, 2010 01:12 am

    Thanks for the great post Natalie and DPS. Very fun and good points to remember about the pitfalls of photoshop.

    @Darren I agree with you that Every photographer develops their own style. It is really a personal preference of what you edit and photoshop in regards to the over integrity of the shot.

  • Diana Mikaels March 6, 2010 12:01 am

    Natalie, you write wonderful tutorials and advice, and I've learned a lot - I have to tell you that and thank you!! You are a happy person who enjoys life and photography. It's great to be able to share that happiness with others by means of photographs :) And I want to tell you also that I've been thinking of you for the loss of your child.
    But here is one comment ON GRAMMAR. Well, I'm not a native English speaker... so forgive for being picky. By the way, DARREN SHOULD SEE THIS TOO, hehe...

    IT'S = contraction of IT + IS or IT + HAS.
    ITS = denotes ownership. In the group HIS - HER - ITS.

    All my love! And thanks again for your great advice :)

  • Darren March 5, 2010 11:56 pm

    While your article highlights some good points, I'd simply add for those who do 'edit' their pics, don't 'over do' it.

    EVERY single photo taken I've seen posted on this site and numerous others has been modified in some form of post production. EVERY photographer develops their own style.

    There are those pics that are taken with the express purpose of post-processing, even to quote Zack who suggests that such thoughts should be violently corrected(slap) is overlooking an individuals own 'style'.

  • Rob Bixby March 5, 2010 11:18 pm

    I have been guilty of every one of these. I remember my first entry into digital photography and Photoshop. I was thrilled that I could shoot all I wanted without having to pay for the bad ones. Then, I thought, I 'll keep those because I can fix them later in PS. Well, I've still go disks full of bad images that I never have, and never will "fix in PS". I've since fallen back to the retouching guideline I learned shooting film, if it looks retouched, it's too much.

  • Jack Fussell March 5, 2010 10:30 pm

    Absolutely hilarious post. Thanks for pointing these things out and making us laugh at the same time.

  • Karen Stuebing March 5, 2010 08:35 pm

    These are good points but I can't agree about not learning Photoshop. Or a similar program.

    My first digital camera came with a horrible editing program.

    So I got Photoshop. At that time, Photoshop CS. Like you I struggled a long time to learn how to use it. I read tutorial after tutorial. For me, it was worth the effort. Just using basics like levels or curves and sharpening can improve a photo immensely.

    And then you learn how to use layers and masks, etc. and get really creative. In good ways. Not like the ones you're describing above.

    One treatment you didn't mention was high key. In or out?

  • Leslie Nicole March 5, 2010 06:46 pm

    @Rob I agree. While I think to each his own as far as how far one wants to take post processing, for one to say that they won't even use Photoshop is ridiculous. That would be like saying you will only have your negatives processed at a 1 hour film developing place rather than take them to a pro lab. There's not an image that exists that doesn't need interpretation in Post Processing. If you aren't doing it, your camera is doing it for you, interpreting how it thinks an image should be processed.

    I see many images that would be nice if the person knew how to correctly process their image with at least white balance, sharpening, levels or curves, and maybe judicious burn/dodge.

  • Rob March 5, 2010 06:28 pm

    I don't entirely agree.

    I find that using photoshop is meant to bring out the best of what you have done, and if it isn't a great shot, then no amount of psp is going to remedy that.
    also people begin to realise quite quickly that the amount of post processsing work they do on their photos can be reduced at the point of using the camera. I haven't come across anyone who hasn't learnt that lesson quickly ( including myself and yet I have been taking photos for 35 years mostly wthout psp and digital !).

    Psp can be a bit of eye candy stars in their eyes toy when you suddenly realise that the possibilities are quite extensive and so you tend to get carried away hence the selective colouring, vignette and sunfalre etc.
    I wouldn't knock it, people should be allowed to do crazy stuff and let their imagination run wild and encourage the creative streak / phase they are going through before their either get disallusioned or calm down to be more serious but still creative.

    would we knock ansel adams for his "photoshop processing"?
    taste in photo styles is always going to be selective and every photograpgher knows that there is only one rule "there are no rules"

    If we want to discourage anything, then we should encourage people to change when they use psp to make a bad photo worse.

    This is still a good article for encouring debate about the weird stuff we do and helping everyone do better.

  • Mike T March 5, 2010 05:10 pm

    I do agree with all that Natalie said. As a person (like myself) who grows in knowledge and experience with his/her camera, he/she will want to add some form of post processing to bring up the color/contrast/lighting, etc., on their photos if you get to the point of using manual mode w/o any in-camera boosts. I took several digital photo classes at a local photography school and thankfully they did not mention using any PP at all until the very advanced classes. It's all about getting the shot right with the camera (or as 'right' as the camera is able to get it). Once you start using Raw you will have to do some PP anyway, but the key as Natalie said is to learn to get the best shot you can in the camera. Then use PP to make it the best it can be. Or use PP to experiment with all kinds of artistic adjustments. Can't learn w/o giving it a try a few hundred times....:)

  • Michelle March 5, 2010 04:07 pm

    Experiment, enjoy and learn, forget about 'never do this, never do that other people imposing their unimaginative unartistic views' do as you feel is right! Love the image above.

  • Ray March 5, 2010 03:08 pm

    photoshopographers. Such a disgusting word, but I'm one of them. Great points which I should remember in the future. Thanks for the article.

  • Stephen March 5, 2010 02:26 pm

    Hilarious post!

  • WP March 5, 2010 01:30 pm

    [eimg url='http://www.thempa.com/awards2009_presentation/images/winners/open/Lynsey%20Thompson.jpg' title='Lynsey%20Thompson.jpg']

  • WP March 5, 2010 01:30 pm

    i dont know about No.2.

    check this image out: http://www.thempa.com/awards2009_presentation/images/winners/open/Lynsey%20Thompson.jpg

  • Erica March 5, 2010 01:17 pm

    Amen--I was relieved to read this. Often I feel like the bad photographer in my community because I am not doing the crazy shiny eye thing or other fads.

    I loved the article, but I think Natalie made a good point--if you are busy and getting well paid to do what you do--do it! If not, this may give readers things to contemplate. If you are doing this for hobby do whatever you want.

    I think these points are very valid and it was a very entertaining read! the only thing I would add (and this really has nothing to do with post-processing) is don't get an awesome camera the minute you decide you want to be a photographer. I had a low end DSLR and the ISO and shutter speed ranges were really narrow. it really taught me how to take photos. After I upgraded things seemed so easy (and were), but I felt having a camera the earlier camera taught me to find the light and taught me how to be a photographer.

  • Kieron March 5, 2010 01:09 pm

    Great article. Agree with the view about selective colouring, but what about selective desaturation? Sometimes it's nice to highlight a wedding bouquet by desaturating the rest of the picture. But not to the extent that the client relly notices it's happened!

  • Remi March 5, 2010 12:39 pm

    I have to agree with you on this esp on Barbie and Ken one. I prefert to do things moderately. Most of the time it's just a fad. New things will come.

  • Darryl March 5, 2010 11:54 am

    Post processing is where 50% of the magic comes in, thats where I get most of my business, people just love it. I can take an ordinary photo that most might discard and turn it into something special.

  • daniel mollino March 5, 2010 11:46 am

    Wow i am stunned, So many of you saying you will never use photoshop, I do wonder what you will do with the photos that need some post processing, Let the lab do it? O i guess you forgot that 99% of labs will color correct your photo by default! As for this whole dilemma Photography is art and people need to stop making rules on art. You like and do what you like and do.

    True visionarys and pioneers in art have always done what they want and many broke the rules. The Beatles for music Carlos Mollino for photography Lary Flint even maby not art but hay it counts and many more

    The people making rules and statements like this article are people that lack their own vision and need rules to make something they are proud of, A true artist gets a vision and goes for broke.

  • Tabergid March 5, 2010 10:56 am

    Probably one of the most true posts I've read here..... GREAT!!!!

  • Heather Georger Round Rock, TX Photographer March 5, 2010 10:44 am


  • Jayde March 5, 2010 10:36 am

    WOW! I knew the comments were going to be wild, but I didn't expect them to be this wild. Here is my response: http://jaydescorner.blogspot.com/2010/03/am-i-photoshop-sinner.html

  • Ryszard March 5, 2010 08:16 am

    Well it is a truth in the statement..but also the false….you can easily overdue pictures but with the same you my under process too…we have to remember we are working with the Digital cameras so every image is process…photos are no longer Pictures they are Graphics…so is no such thing like overdue….if somebody like screaming image let it be….is no limit on art. And is not recipe for a perfect photo…Look in the history of modern art..And judge for yourself if somebody use it to much saturation…or black and white is not right thing to do . In my opinion post is a personal preference and is no body’s business to judge….you my like or not …..But it is personal expression and if you like it go for it. [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/ryszard_pabis/4406709997/' title='kwiatek_s' url='http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2729/4406709997_41eaaaed66_o.jpg']

  • CEB March 5, 2010 07:26 am

    Good thing I didn't purchase Photoshop yet, I did almost talk my wife in to it. Good article,

  • Lauri March 5, 2010 07:05 am

    LMAO! This is hilarious...thanks for injecting a little humor in my day!

  • Tiffany March 5, 2010 07:05 am

    um, I have broken tons of these rules! I think some of them are a bit arbitrary but overall I think not over-editing will make me a better photographer so I will try (TRY) not to overuse these edits anymore!

  • Bad_Manners March 5, 2010 06:53 am

    But. But. But.

    It's all so true. Really well written article. Sometimes we need to take the mickey out of ourselves, so we can take that ste back into reality.

    I gave up on Photoshop when I found Photoshop Elements. Less is more.

  • Eric March 5, 2010 05:39 am

    @ Lees

    Selective coloring is when the photog picks one color or one area, leaves that alone, and makes everything else black and white.

  • Jackie March 5, 2010 05:33 am

    Blahahaaa! I totally enjoyed that article, thanks, Natalie, for making light of all of our i-did-that-at-one-time goofy mistakes. Love it!

  • Skip Nelson March 5, 2010 05:33 am

    The more things change the more they remain the same. I grew up on B&W and developed my own film and made my own prints. There was always some new 'trick' coming out in processing or printing that I would try to emmulate. After I would get the 'trick' down I would inevitably never use it again. Yesterday, I spent nearly 3 hours working on a new PS process only to look at the end results and thinking..'Yech!'
    But, there is a time and place for everything. I have had clients ask for some facsimile of just about every process that you discussed. When used with a light touch they work. And when someone asks and pays..I plays.

    Enjoyed your article and it was well written.

  • Leslie Nicole March 5, 2010 05:27 am

    OK, I guess I have another comment. ;-)

    It's interesting how religious many photographers are against post processing. When it comes down to it, we have many techniques to create an image. Some of them can happen before taking the photo and some of them can happen after. Is applying a honeycomb filter on your light any different from doing something after in Photoshop? Both things are manipulating what's there to best convey what you want. I worked 10 years in a pro photo lab. There is no such thing as a negative that doesn't need "post processing." Have you ever seen a before and after of Ansel Adams "Moonlight Over Hernandez?" Wow, talk about PP. I know, perhaps you say that's different - but is it? It's manipulating what you captured to better show what your vision of the image is.

    I've seen some images on online art communities where people proudly write "No post-processing!" and man did it desperately need it!

    I know these examples in the article are poking fun at "easy, gone too far, for the wrong reasons" fads. And I agree with them - to an extent. But so many of the comments proudly say they don't even want to use Photoshop. To that I say, what difference does it make if it was done before or after the shot if it works?

  • Tronam March 5, 2010 05:21 am

    There is no such thing as a professional photograph without post processing, unless *maybe* if you're a photo journalist. Even then, the digital camera's computer itself applies its own post processing through custom tone curves, contrast, sharpening, white balance, shadow lightening and saturation enhancement. Professional film photographers are not immune either; they just went about it in different ways. Where do you think the concepts of dodge and burn came from? They existed for decades long before Photoshop existed. Photographers also use all kinds of optical filters to control exposure, reflections, color saturation and color tinting, not to mention controlling depth of field to blur the background. What if you use a gaussian blur filter in Photoshop to achieve the same thing? How is one any "superior" to the other if the end result is the same? It's all just a classic example of the traditional clashing with the progressive. The past feeling threatened by the future.

    The key, like in all disciplines, is moderation and a good eye. It doesn't matter how you get there. All artistic traditions are subjective and the methods you use to achieve your goals doesn't matter. If the end result lives up to your vision, then you have succeeded. Sure, there are tons of amateurs creating garrish junk, but this has always been the case, regardless of what century you live in. Remember, photographers are just second class citizens to *real* artists who draw, paint and sculpt. ;)

  • Matt March 5, 2010 05:09 am

    I hate it when people say "do not shoot in raw" because to me they have no idea what they are talking about. Yes, I will admit you can get great looking photos in jpeg, but you are really limiting yourself by just shooting in jpeg. RAW images preserves the most information taken from a photograph (including color inforamation). Jpeg, on the other hand, is a type of file created to save space and share information typically on the web. Jpeg is considered a "lossy" format meaning it doesn't save the most information but rather optimizes the photo to save space. There are lossless types of jpeg out there but I would be really surprised if you actually were using them, because most computers don't support them. So if you are okay with loosing a part of the picture then by all means keep shooting in Jpeg.

    Furthermore, if you say not to shoot in RAW it is probably because you have no idea what you can do with it. Photoshop is setup to mimic dark room editing techniques, which if you understand, makes the editing process so much more powerful and not just the sliding of bars to correct the problem. You can do a ton more in the RAW editing process before bringing into photoshop to complete the editing...that is I am gonna say about that.

  • Chris P March 5, 2010 05:08 am

    Wow! Natalie's article generated much less inner strife with me than did some of the comments. For instance:
    "If you want to muck about that much give up photography and take up painting."
    Really? Whatever medium one wishes to use to express themselves artistically is a wonderful thing! Given the phenomenal things one can do with a camera and software, one has to wonder what Van Gogh and Monet might have chosen as their medium of choice if the tools we have today were available to them. As photgraphers and artists none of us should ever forget that beauty is, indeed, in the eye of the beholder.

  • Leslie Nicole March 5, 2010 05:04 am

    I've been a photographer for 27 years, used to be a professional hand-colorist and I've used Photoshop since 1991. I've always loved playing with post processing of some kind or another. It's not to ride a fad or cover up bad photography. I just enjoy it. I have a fine art background and I love creating a more painted effect. Sure, there are always fads. Hand coloring, Polaroid transfers, cross processing, Holga cameras, textures, you name it. Those "fads" can still produce really nice art. I think it depends on if you use a tool/technique to create art or if you use it in place of creating art. I use a lot of textures right now, but I spend time integrating it into my photograph. I hate it when people just slap a texture on their photo and call it art.

    As far as the numerous sniggers about selective coloring, I recently scanned in two images I made before Photoshop existed that are silver-gelatin fiber prints selectively colored. I still like them. Your mileage may differ.

  • SteveDH March 5, 2010 04:48 am

    I almost agree. 6&7 can be way cool but only when photographing a cat.

  • Federico Presti March 5, 2010 03:56 am

    I do use photoshop, but I'm not a pro... sometimes your photo didn't come out the way you expected and that's hard to see in a 2 inch LCD screen. Also, quite often colors are not what you would like them to be, sometimes your picture is a little crooked, sometimes you need a vignette to hilight a subject that would otherwise be unnoticed. Another thing I do is fixing what should be a seamless background; when your working materials are not the best, you need to have some resource to make it look good.
    I try not to overdo my photoshop work, but I think that if you are not a pro, you are allowed to do things that might only please yourself just for fun...

    Anyway, I liked the post, it makes a lot of sense and I think those are good things to stick to. Thanks!

  • jastereo March 5, 2010 03:32 am

    Great stuff. The excessive vignetting and "eye work" - especially over whitening the whites and over sharpening just the eyes on photos to make them pop is bugging the crap out of me. All of these used with a bit of common sense can be a great thing but man do people over-do it.

  • Bob Wood March 5, 2010 03:29 am

    Great article and certainly timely for new photographers like me. I had Photoshop right away, but luckily I resisted the traps you mentioned, for the most part. I used to tell my students, there is not a mistake out there that I haven't already made before you.


  • Deecajun March 5, 2010 03:22 am

    2 comments I love..

    What ever happened to taking a good photo and letting it be

    If I can tell its been in Photoshop i've gone too far.

    I feel I can't compete with todays photographers because I still enjoy the adrenaline rush of getting it right in camera, we were all on the same level playing field. I refuse to manipulate my photos to the point that they don't represent what I see for the sake of getting a "good photo". they are all good.

    I don't want to know how to use Photoshop.

  • Teleman March 5, 2010 03:08 am

    Photoshop is just a modern version of the darkroom - if used in moderation. A photographer may only use a fraction of the PS functionality, but that fraction can make a big difference! A little tweak to the curves or color balance can really make a photo pop, yet stay true to the original image. Plus, if you really want to get crazy, PS has all the tools to go pretty much anywhere. My advice, don't be afraid of it but don't be a slave to it either.

  • Dan Baker March 5, 2010 02:59 am

    While I agree that CS4 might be a big pill to tackle an investment in Photoshop Lightroom is well worth the money. Tagging and file management are worthy skills and you can do many of the "tweaks" without jumping into a vast tool box that is CS4.

  • Michelle March 5, 2010 02:54 am

    great post!and i'm probably guilty of them all ;)

    #7 totally laughed out loud! love me some twilight!

  • Ariana Murphy March 5, 2010 02:45 am

    Great article! It gave me a good laugh, as it was intended to do, and taught me/reminded me of some important points too. Thanks!

  • Danny March 5, 2010 02:08 am

    I'm always wary of lists like this, because they are a very personal thing.

    I can find myself in agreement and disagreement with most of the points, because for me it's all about scale; how far something is taken.

    What this list is saying to me is all these techniques, when overdone or done badly, are not good. However I could equally create a list with all these techniques displayed in wonderful ways - they'd just be good quality examples of subtlety and skilful processing.

    I also have an issue with the concept of what is 'timeless'. It's almost impossible to know at a given point in time what is going to be considered timeless. I remember many things going out of fashion from the 70's that are now considered timeless or classic (the Rayleigh Chopper bicycle for example), yet in the 80's, no one would have agreed with you had you suggested such a thing.

    Trends tend to happen for a reason, and one of the things that happens in a trend is it gets taken to an extreme. What usually happens is it then tones down and becomes part of a range of techniques, looks, styles etc.. Only occasionally does a trend maintain it's individuality and become a timeless thing, and that tends to happen retrospectively.

  • Nai no Kami March 5, 2010 01:35 am

    Natalie: If we weren't married people, I would be asking your hand right away.

  • Juan Origel March 5, 2010 01:11 am

    I started the opposite, i learned photoshop first for the design and whatnot, and now i'm focusing in photography learning techniques, actually i do very little in photoshop....curves, unsharp mask...maybe removing pwoer lines here and there, and what not...

    but that's it!


  • Maria Sabala March 4, 2010 11:52 pm

    Thanks for this! Amusing - and true! Gave me a nice little chuckle this morning. The speech bubbles are a nice touch!

  • Steve Chastain March 4, 2010 11:48 pm

    A fun read and reminder for we the creative! Although it's very important that we not discourage a person's creativity and that we remember that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. Also be very careful here Natalie...many of the issues you were kidding about I found on your site...LOL...just go to show that we all fall back into old outdated habits because it feels good and is comfortable.

  • Heather March 4, 2010 11:44 pm

    Who says photographers who are processing are not getting it right. This is art people! One is not better than the other. It is sad when we feel that we need to follow suit of whomever claims superiority and lose our orginality and true vision as artist and end up looking like clones of whomever is leading the way. I agree,these examples are over exaggerated and are not appealing at all and to claim all of us who process make our images look this appalling is plain mockery of alot of very talented people.
    But to sit in judgement of what is "right" in art,those that do this just plain need their egos deflated a bit. All I see coming from the mouth of so called purist is a right to claim that "we" are the only ones who know photography. I say BS !! I was told by a photographer that in her day the purist of film frowned on cropping. SHOCK!! I bet all you who claim purism crop as I didn't see this mentioned in the top 10 as a purist no-no.
    Those of us who choose to use the tools at hand are no different then those who pushed the tools available to them in their day. The problem with our industry is not those photoshop,it is photographers that refuse to take a stand against the ever increasing micro-stock,newcomers coming in who hang a sign without knowledge just because they have a camera .
    Please do me a favor,don't label all of us who choose to "process" as photshop-photographers and maybe the rest of us won't label purist as a bunch of over inflated photographers. I say to newcomers spend time learning to follow your heart when you create,listen to it when you process,learn your equipment,and never forget to push outside of the realms of the norm in camera and out! Stay original and unique to your vision! There is nothing wrong with being a minimalist or an artist. I refuse to use the word purist as those toting digital cameras are far from purist and I hate the stigma of those who seem to spout that word now. I would comment on the original image,but it isn't my place unless asked.
    I say if you want to spout purism,get yourself a pinhole camera,put a pipe in your mouth and smoke that! Otherwise,show some true professiolism and realize there is room in this world for more than one type of artist,it is what keeps the world unique.
    By the way,I am what you would call a "eclectic" photographer,I do whatever feels right for the vision I have from minimalism to whatever. It truly is freeing and a feeling of sheer joy to not be ruled by what someone thinks . I shoot with film still as well as digital, and the days I shoot film I don't consider myself a purist anymore than on the days I am processing a photoshop-photographer.. I just know I am creating for the sheer joy of it...that is the core of an artist. Try it sometime,it sure is liberating.

  • Sarah K March 4, 2010 11:20 pm

    Finally, someone speaks the truth!!! I agree with all your points. I'm certainly tired of the vintage-y/texture-y look that is so trendy right now (and getting all the play on blogs and flickr pools.) If you're spending money on good lenses, it's such a shame to wreck the quality with over processing, and make the photos look like a point and shoot took them!

  • JamesD March 4, 2010 10:23 pm

    Spot on. Whilst each photographer may have their own style I think what you've pointed out above could be the 10 Commandments for post processing.

  • IRWAN March 4, 2010 07:52 pm

    Great article,.. i did all 10 of it before ha ha ha,.. thank you so much !! and for all the comments,.. points taken,all true :) .... seems im gonna slap my self even more than before... lol

  • hfng March 4, 2010 07:06 pm

    I think everyone has their own style and liking. As long as their clients like them and continue to purchase their photos, I don't see why any photographer should not do this or that. Photography is all about experimenting and trying out new stuff. There are no hard and fast rules. That goes for post processing. Even Helen Bradley has her own style in over halo-ing HDR images.

  • Neil March 4, 2010 06:14 pm

    Thnaks for an extertaining way to get a point across. i agree with you - less is more. If you take a good photo it shouldn't need any touching up

    In the 'old days' of real film most of what can be done now either wasn't possible at all or took a lot of hard work and skill.

    If you want to muck about that much give up photography and take up painting

  • Lesley March 4, 2010 04:28 pm

    you just made my night! Thanks Natalie. And I think it's funny how people think they have to do what their clients want, even if it goes against their own style. Just say no, people.

  • Notta March 4, 2010 04:22 pm

    Sorry, but I guess I don't think it's as funny as everyone else. While I completely agree that a photographer shouldn't aim to shoot with the intention of fixing later in post, I think the rest of the article comes across as a little condescending. Just like the person who "teases" you with somewhat mean-spirited comments and then when your feelings are hurt says "SHEESH, I was JUST KIDDING...". You know they aren't REALLY kidding or they wouldn't have said it in the first place.

    I have way more respect for someone with the balls to say "I hate these things, I think they're tacky" and stand by that opinion then I do for people who go out of their way to underline, bold-face and make red their numerous attempts at saying "this is all in good fun" so they don't get too many mad comments from offended people. All you end up getting is everyone else commenting "yeah, me too, I hate those things" while the people you've offended just go away and feel bad. It's just not as constructive as I think you intended it to be.

  • Aimee March 4, 2010 02:57 pm

    OMG That was the funniest thing I've read in a long time!! I literally snorted at her thought bubble on #8!! LOL!

  • Neil Hargreaves March 4, 2010 01:25 pm

    Another great article Natalie, but I'm afraid you might have ruined my monopoly on "natural" photography in my local area ;)

    So many of my "competitors" ruin their images with PP for PPs sake, what if they all see this article? :D

  • daniel mollino March 4, 2010 01:16 pm

    You know while Agree that under normal circumastances you are correct on the "sins" in some artistic forms or design form these are essential well some not all like the lens flair i never a good idea.

    Now as for the photoshopographer thing, I have to Agree to disagree while I peronally am a light photoshoper ( 1 of 100 shots and usually to remove blemishes or add motion blur) There is an age gap on this older photographers and those who learned from such and never used it have your stance, while the younger generation is grasping it. I am in the middle of the two groups i have used photoshop since v 5.0. I constantly hear this bicker. My stance, If you get what you and your clients like it dose not matter which path you take. If your camera skills are lack but your photoshop can make up for it, well go for it you may want to learn your camera better but if the photos make you money and you have clients good job. If you can get everything off the lens then congrats. Yes I am aware you need to get certian things off the lens and most likely they will learn that however there is no reason to say what i hear so often "if you rely on photoshop for your photos your suck as a photographer".

    We are in a buisness that is highly competitive and the older are being squeezed out by technology. 5 Years ago i had to hear phtographers claim digital was crap and you were not a pro unless you shot film, I wonder what they have to say now. As generations take over things will change and if you do not adapt you will disappear, This might not happen with photoshop however some things kids like now in terms of their images well you cant get off a lens in most cases.

    Remember when it comes to the customer they do not give a crap how you got to what they like and buy they just care what the final looks is and if it will look good how they intend to use it.

    Do you think any customer is going to say "Do you use photoshop?" and if you say yes they leave. No they are going to look at your portfolio If they like your style they will stay.

  • Tim March 4, 2010 12:56 pm

    Okay I know I'm jumping on this band wagon a little late, and should have probably read all the posts here. So I apologize for saying anything that is redundant.

    Putting it simple, YES you are right in General that sacrificing photographic technique because you can fix it in photoshop is a bad habit to get into. However we we can ALL agree on, or at least I think can agree on is that we aren't always blessed with ideal conditions in which to shoot. How many times have you seen that lovely landscape shot but it wasn't at the prime times (Sunrise, sunset). If you don't shoot now you lose an opportunity period. Yes I'm guilty I've been places where the lighting was dismal, but I did say to myself, yeap I can fix that in Photoshop, and NOPE I don't feel guilty about it at all. But alas I babble, in principal I agree with the list. Just not sure I could stand behind everything that was listed.

  • Mikel Daniel March 4, 2010 12:19 pm

    I think you've summarized all of my pet peeves into one nicely wrapped article. However, it needs to be stated that any technique, when used correctly, can yield highly impressive results. And naturally the opposite holds true.

  • jamzik March 4, 2010 11:52 am

    Rule 10, it's such a pleasure to violate.


  • josh March 4, 2010 11:20 am

    For everyone who is posting that they don't agree with this article, and PS is a great tool, and blah blah blah... There is a 2 paragraph diclaimer at the end of it! You should go back and read it again.

  • Paul Saulnier March 4, 2010 11:08 am

    1 agree 1000% ....i try to stay organic as much as possible ....i know a few photographers that use photoshop ....but they use it for fashion ....thats about it ....i try to keep it clean ..natural ...and if ever i do need a bit of a fix ...i edit with the disc i got with my canon xti ...thats all i use 99% of the time ....sometimes the picture is a bit dark ect....i do use the crop 99% of the time haha...if you need photoshop all the time ...maybe you need to learn camera settings ....manual white balance ect.....the more you set your camera ...the less you need to fix ...the less time you waist also ....shoot raw ....and dont ever trust the little screen on your camera ....if it looks great on your camera ..chances are it isnt ....i always shoot darker than what i want on the camera screen ...its easier to lighten a picture ...but darken a picture ...not as good

  • Mei Teng March 4, 2010 10:45 am

    I have to agree that post processing is pretty much an individual thing. Still, this post is a great reminder that an overdose of something might not be a good thing after all. I am guilty of some of those things mentioned here. Thanks for sharing! :)

  • Killian March 4, 2010 10:24 am

    Lees asked what selective coloring is:

    It's any photograph rendered in black/white, but with one colored object left in. I did this one just for fun:


    Unfortunately, it has become a habit of some photographers to overuse it. Baby portraits in black and white, except for overworked blue eyes, for example, or wedding pictures with just the flowers left in color.

  • Rachel March 4, 2010 10:22 am

    Love it! A good reminder that I might need a hard slap in the face every now and then.

  • Rob March 4, 2010 10:11 am

    oh noooooo!!! Guilty of 5, 6 AND 7!

    I am trying to break to get the vignetting monkey off my back but its hard. I have soooo many lovely presets with it!

    I use "some" over saturation but usually to make it look over saturated, not to make up for something else.

    Selective coloring can work but I use heavy desaturation more than complete removal.

    Im kinda backwards on the Photoshop front. I was really good with Photoshop before I started getting serious about photography. Now much of what I do with my camera is trying to reproduce effects I perviously added in Photoshop. I actually think Photoshop has made me a better photographer because it showed me that there was more in that image than I thought.

    Great list!!

    P.S. - um....NO to Twighlight - book, movie or anything else!!! :)

  • Brittany March 4, 2010 09:50 am

    Brilliant! I'm still an amateur photographer after 4 years, and only now I'm just learning to digitally edit.
    Before I would crop, maybe add brightness, but that's it.
    Now I use Aperture, its quite fun being able to adjust the pictures, but you still have to do your very best to take a good picture!

  • keith March 4, 2010 09:49 am

    Good thoughts about over using PS.

    And I like your idea about learning how to use your camera before fiddling with photoshop. Yep, get it in the camera is the best way. I'd like to add HDR Grunge to the list of over done PS effects.

    I've had students sign up for my Photo 101 class just to learn the basics of shooting photos & learning how the camera works -shooting film- & making their own prints.

  • Morgan March 4, 2010 09:46 am

    Great points, Natalie! I agree with every single thing that you said. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that so many photographers use Photoshop to make their pictures look "professional," when really I think that photography should be about trying our best capturing everything exactly as we see it. This natural world is so beautiful. People are naturally gorgeous. If something's beautiful to begin with, why use Photoshop to make it look completely different? I do believe that Photoshop has its time and its place, but it is so often overused. Sometimes less really is more.

  • Rayleigh March 4, 2010 09:30 am

    I just recently updated all the photos on my website and I struggled with the decision to include some spot color or not. I realize it's a fad that most photographer's are sick of but still, almost every one of my clients still ask for it! If the clients like it, maybe I should keep a few as part of my portfolio so that the clients who do like it, will see that I can do it. So I left a few on my website but I don't usually do spot color unless the client asks for it specifically.

    If I do any of the "fad" kind of techniques, I usually also provide the image in a natural form so that 10 years down the road, if the client no longer likes the technique, they still have the natural version.

    The post processing hazard I often see that wasn't mentioned is over-gaussian blurring. I was very guilty of that early on!

  • damaris March 4, 2010 09:18 am

    this post was great. I am a total amateur and I learned a lot from this. I do all these things, and yes it's lame. I have so much to learn.

  • johnp March 4, 2010 08:46 am

    Thanks, I have found myself sometimes saying 'that'll be ok I'll fix it later with photoshop'. The slap in the face I needed!

  • T Kennah March 4, 2010 08:28 am

    Not even a budding profession, just like the medium. Liked the article. Thanks for sharing.

  • Crystal March 4, 2010 08:18 am

    This list is a satire, I get that. I also get that a lot of what's on this is horrible stuff that I wish I never had to look again. And I did laugh out loud at many of the things pointed out here. But it also seems like a slam against Photoshop too.

    Knocking Photoshop as a tool, is like telling a film photographer to get out of the darkroom.

  • Emma March 4, 2010 07:54 am

    I could not agree with you more! This is amazing!

  • Steff March 4, 2010 07:42 am

    I heart you! This is hysterical.

  • Mandy March 4, 2010 07:33 am

    Fantastic post I love your style of writing and I completely agree, although I was trained in Photoshop loooongg before I seriously became interested in photography (I'm talking Photoshop 4!!! - that makes me feel old).

    Oh and yes I love Twilight!

    ...Glad to see you back too....

  • Elise March 4, 2010 07:26 am

    I didn't realize vignettes were so disdained! I don't do them on all my photos, but I do put little (like JUST the edges) on mine on occasion. It seems to make the photo pop and I've gotten lots of compliments?? I agree with the HUGE vignettes though.. I hate those.. as well as the awful colored ones. Seriously an aqua vignette? Ack Really, that is the only "sin" I commit other than bumping saturation a few notches on occasion! Great post and an eye opener!

  • Trisha Zemp March 4, 2010 07:14 am

    Natalie! This post is awesome! Radioactive eyes.... so true... some people get carried away with it! This is an excellent post! I loved it! :)

  • meredith hanafi March 4, 2010 07:09 am

    Love this! Well written, funny and true! I am guilty of lots of these and am trying to get back to good old fashioned true photography.... that said the processing options are sometimes sooo tempting :)

  • Richard March 4, 2010 07:06 am

    My impression of what Natalie says is that she is poking fun at extremes. There is a place for these things in moderation. The ultimate goal in my opinion is to create art that will stand the test of time. I think Natalie has communicated this in a witty, clever and satirical way. GREAT article 1000% agree!

  • Michelle March 4, 2010 07:03 am

    eek! Guilty on a few counts and needed this gentle slap on the hand. I've been casually shooting for years (with some skill I've been told) and decided to get serious about it around three years ago. Definitely not pro but make a little $$ on the side. I recently started delving in to PS - actions and flare and vingettes and ooh, the toys! They're a lot of fun but can definitely get out of hand.

    Thanks for this Natalie - good advice and a great laugh.

  • Yolanda March 4, 2010 06:48 am

    Definitely a post-processing sinner here. But I’m a very amateur photographer and have been using PS for ten years for graphics work. Right now, I’m a LightRoom addict. My goal is definitely to learn to take better shots in the first place and to learn how to get images that look close to the way I want straight out of camera; but for now I will admit to doing a lot of learning by processing (meaning I see my exposure and framing mistakes clearly as I adjust or discard them). But I realize that hobbyists are judged by different standards than professionals.

  • Corey Ann March 4, 2010 06:47 am

    This is such a great article for SO many reasons.

    I'll admit, I overused photoshop back in the day (hello #31... gaussian blur is not your friend) but learned, quickly, thankfully, that it is a tool to enhance but not to cover up.

  • scott March 4, 2010 06:46 am

    GREAT list! I would add the halos to people over processing HDR to that list. I am also quite annoyed with mega sharpening.

    Of course sometimes you can process an image into something really different like this:

  • Shelly March 4, 2010 06:42 am

    Hahaha! I LOVED this article! I truly laughed right out loud at the humorous way you wrote this "oh, so true" piece. It's all good stuff to think about, isn't it? Moderation in all things will always remain a great motto.

  • Mark March 4, 2010 06:34 am


    Thanks, neither did i

  • Tiffany March 4, 2010 06:19 am

    all very good points! i esp. like the first one about photo editing. first of all, better your photography skills so you don't have to do any major editing. second, photoshop is not all that great for photo editing anymore. it's more for design. i have so many friends who has photoshop but doesn't know how to use it. but they have it because the name "photo"shop implies their photos will be better if they own it.

  • Natalie Norton March 4, 2010 06:19 am


    I just want to draw your attention to a few things from the article:

    "I recognize that post processing is incredibly individual. For a lot of people, what happens in post is an extension of their art. Hold on to what makes sense to you artistically! By all means. I would NEVER want to discourage someone from creating their art!"

    If something WORKS for someone, I would NEVER discourage them from doing it!!

    Also, I would like to reiterate this:

    If "you’re booking well and getting paid bucketloads. . . then there’s obviously no reason to rethink your strategy!"

    I said it in regards to one specific aspect of what is being said above, but I really believe it fits with ANY of the tips from this post.

    I also really really like what @jay said in the comments above quoting Zack Arias:

    "You have to give the client what they want. I do remember Zack Arias saying during one of his web critiques that if a client wants selective coloring or photos with actions, then go ahead and do it, but do NOT make those images part of your public portfolio."

    These are just things to think about. . . and again, a satire of sorts. :)

    Truly did NOT intend to seem arrogant nor did I wish to offend.



  • Doug March 4, 2010 06:08 am

    Oh god yes, I hate the current fad for excessive vignetting!

  • scottkemp2 March 4, 2010 06:03 am

    I spent 20 years shooting Kodacrome, so, maybe my point of view is affected by that. All slide film was very unforgiving. You pretty much had to nail the exposure. Composition was important too. There was not cropping later.

    For me Photoshop, and digital photography, was a rebirth. Suddenly I could do better things done than I ever could with the expensive process of having an internegative made and having a lab make adjustments. Photoshop is a wonderful tool.

    When I read this article I feel like people are being told not to try things; to make mistakes; to learn by being messy. I do not buy it.

    I say try everything and learn good taste.

  • Jerry March 4, 2010 05:52 am

    Quite frankly, pictures with eyes that are over worked: creep.me.out.

    HA! Couldn't agree more. First time on the site, loved the article. I look forward to many more visits.

  • Rhonda March 4, 2010 05:40 am

    Great post! Thanks.

  • B March 4, 2010 05:39 am

    Good reality check for people who liek to use vignettes, color reduction, tonemapped HDR, cross processing or "vintage" coloring.

    I do disagree with #1; knowing some kind of post processing is vital, and the equivalent of a film photographer's darkroom knowledge. You wouldn't tell someone shooting B&W film not to try developing their own film or prints when they start out. Good photographers quickly learn that it's way more efficient and less headache inducing to get the best shot you can in camera -- but knowing what you can do in software can expand the type sof shots you can take my leaps and bounds.

    Nice article. The end could be less wishy-washy; stick to your guns, you're right, this stuff is crap.

  • Mark March 4, 2010 05:07 am

    I was just wondering if you might publish the official approved list of effects and filters that a "true" professional like yourself would deem as approved. I mean, like many, I've fallen into the horrible trap of not checking with you prior to checking with my clients and have foolishly dropped my "true" professional moniker and fallen to the level of my stupid clients who actually still like the very things you have declared to be so passe'.

    What to do? What to do? Do I retain my "true" professional status, or do I please my client? But I jest. Listen, if you don't like certain styles and effects then please by all means don't use them, but belittling those of us who still use "last decades" styles just belittles your own "true" professional status.

  • Lees March 4, 2010 04:56 am

    since I'm new, please don't laugh...what do you mean by selective coloring? I don't want to just "assume" I know...I want to be sure.

  • Silverzz March 4, 2010 04:48 am

    I was a photoshop user long before I ever owned a camera, although mainly for web graphics work where you use the program very differently. But I do admit I try to fix too many photo's in PS and it is definatley something I am trying to do much less of this year.

  • Lon March 4, 2010 04:46 am

    Joe, regarding borders, I feel that they can enhance OR destroy a good photo. I'm sure the subject has been discussed here before, but the color, style, size etc of the border can definitely have an affect on the outcome. Just like how the color, style, size of the frame and matting affects printed and mounted artwork. For printed photos I prefer the framing to be done manually, and that adding borders digitally should only be done for images that are to be used in publishing or remain digital.

  • Richard Skoonberg March 4, 2010 04:43 am

    I am with you 100% on all of this. ( I was a pro for about 10 years.) I agree with Todd Eddy, HDR belongs here too! Very few do it well.

  • Royz March 4, 2010 04:42 am

    What ever happened to simply taking a picture with proper camera settings and letting it be...

  • Lon March 4, 2010 04:33 am

    I have seen wedding photos friends who paid a "pro" thousands of dollars for providing photos that incorporate every post-processing sin Natalie just listed. I guess some photogs have to justify their bill by spending all that time photochopping everything up.

    Personally after learning the rudimentary stuff for two years on a Yashica FR-I, going digital has given me a lot more interest in the field, and I would not want to lose the extra tools in photoshop I use to make my images better. However, being color blind I don't like to post-process anything having to do with color, except for fixing white balance or other blatant problems. The histogram is my intimidating but worthy conscience.

  • Killian March 4, 2010 04:28 am

    Wow. That photo hits several of her "sins" all in one shot! Perfect example!

  • Ashley March 4, 2010 04:27 am

    some of those things are too funny! I can take it with a grain of salt and it's nice to see another who can as well. You like what you like right? One person's art can be another one's nightmare, to each his own, and all that jazz... lol :)

    Great article!

    (am totally a fan of selective color in certain aspects btw! I will not be ashamed! :p )

  • BC March 4, 2010 04:18 am

    here's one example i love!: http://twitpic.com/16evnn

  • Maite March 4, 2010 04:14 am

    I love this post. So true on all counts, yes they are extreme, but some people don't realize that indulging in extreme post processing should be a crime and PS should be taken away indefinitely! lol.
    great post.

  • Kate March 4, 2010 04:08 am

    Bless you, Natalie. Your list of deadly sins made me smile... and cringe... ;-)

  • Tyler March 4, 2010 04:05 am


    I have gotten clients because I don't selective color stuff. It's cliche, it's tacky.

  • Jake Markland March 4, 2010 04:04 am

    lol i hate to admit it but im guilty of 5 of these at some point lol some more extreme than others haha

  • Katie March 4, 2010 03:53 am

    Haha these were great! Having worked in a pro lab... each one of these reminded me of a different photographer. It's not done in post, but I would also add: shooting everything at an angle.

  • Michael Crawford March 4, 2010 03:53 am

    Vignetting every picture bothers me a lot! I like natural vignetting back from film days or doing it by using zoomed in flashes or snoots.

    I agree with your list. The only other thing I can think of off the top of my head is teeth that look like they have been sandblasted. I am definitely guilty of that one and eyes that pop a little too much.

  • ricardo March 4, 2010 03:52 am

    11th. deady-post-processing-sin
    Do NOT use RAW....(it's all about drag sliders to edit (monkey level).

    12th. eady-post-processing-sin
    Do NOT use aRGB...(We do not see 48 milions of colors).

    13.th deady-post-processing-sin
    Do NOT use a SDLR ( buy a M4/3)

  • Ashley March 4, 2010 03:38 am

    Wow, I am SO guilty of a lot of these. Except for the freaky eye thing. I've seen that one a lot and it scares me to death.

  • Caroline March 4, 2010 03:37 am

    This was a great article, but I noticed a lot of the commenters ragging on Photoshop. Adobe Photoshop is a powerful, industry-standard tool that ALL photographers should be familiar with. If you want to stay cutting edge, you must be able to use it, and use it well. That being said, I agree with all of the rules! However, that doesn't mean you should stay away from post-processing. People who couldn't make the film to digital jump got lost in obscurity. People who refuse to post-process will also get lost. Every photo needs a tweak here and there, because your eye and your camera see differently.

  • Jason_OX4 March 4, 2010 03:36 am

    Ironic, really, considering the author's profile pick has some obvious post-processing effects applied.

  • Killian March 4, 2010 03:35 am

    Natalie, it's wonderful to see you back. We all mourned with you on the loss of Gavin, but your inherent joy shines through once again.

    I loved what you said in this article, but also the way you said it. Honestly? If this article offends someone, it's probably because it mirrors their own style and lack of technique/composition/light mastery. You were witty and amusing, but above all, you were right.


  • BC March 4, 2010 03:28 am

    i don't like selective color, but focal black&white can be cool

  • Jesslyn March 4, 2010 03:20 am

    I don't normally comment, but I have to agree with the Photoshop commentary. I am purely an amateur, but am utterly afraid of Photoshop. I like the fact that I can produce an image and no one can say, "Oh, well, its been photoshopped". I DON'T EVEN OWN PHOTOSHOP. I want it, for certain things, but not because I can transform my images with it. A photographer should be able to create the image within their camera. Also, on the skin post-processing, this happened to me. When I got my wedding pictures back, my "beauty mark" mole on my cheek bone was gone! Needless to say I made my photographers but it back in and supply me with another disc of digital negatives.

  • Kent West March 4, 2010 03:19 am

    Well written and dang funny. Thanks for the tips!

  • marc March 4, 2010 03:16 am

    Hello Natalie. Thank you for your post. I read yours without fail because they always give me an "ah ha!" moment.

    Like the other poster, I am was suprised not to see the amp'd up HDR images that seem to be the current rage. While some HDR images do look interesting and engaging, I mostly feel like I am looking at a comic book picture rather than a photograph. I do not mean to be unfair to our HDR breathern because they do produce some very moving images, but at a certain point, HDR images no longer feel to my humble eyes like a photograph. Of course, YMMV. :)

    I look forward to your next article with great anticipation.

    On a personal note, please add my thoughts and prayers to the thousand of others I am sure you have received for your loss.

  • JohnS March 4, 2010 03:12 am

    Darn, there goes my entire post processing work flow.

  • Zack Jones March 4, 2010 02:57 am

    Natalie, it's so good to see you back after all you had to deal with. This is a great article and I love the quote from Zack (spelled with a "k" not "h") Arias.

    Regarding #4 I turned down a job because the woman wanted me to remove her double chin and other blemishes as part of post processing. I explained that wasn't something I was comfortable with doing so I told the couple to find another photographer. To me you are what you are, fat, ugly, skinny, pretty, I don't care but I'm not going to significantly digitally alter how you looked on the day I took your photo.

    I do like selective color though. I guess I need to keep those photos in my private stash :).

  • Victor Howard March 4, 2010 02:52 am

    Great points. As a learner in photography (had D40X for couple years, but really focusing on the art of photography in last few months), I am trying to get the image capture correct. I started out using various programs (not Photoshop) to do a lot of post processing to fix my shots, but found that it was so time consuming. I am getting better productivity and a more streamlined workflow by trying to get the shot "right" in camera. As a newbie, I have not been able to completely get away from post processing, but my efforts to learn better exposure control have helped tremendously.

  • Flores March 4, 2010 02:40 am

    I learn photoshop first then later on enter into hobby of photography. Editing in moderation is justified and even in most cases is a must. Editing in extreme way simply destroys the image and the originality. But we may do that for a particular purpose or by request of a client, All DSLR cameras actually are photo editing devices in such a way. Set up a white balance in camera and in photoshop, what a difference is it? Likewise setup a color (vivid, neutral etc) in camera and in photoshop. Anyway is there any professional photographer who never uses any post processing with photo editing software?

  • Joe March 4, 2010 02:39 am

    What about borders? It really annoys me when I see an oherwise decent photo, ruined by an ugly, clunky looking plain colour border. I don't know what people think when they add them. It's just bizarre.

  • jillycrystal March 4, 2010 02:09 am

    Oh! thanks, I´m just starting in photography and these not-to-do-tips are really useful for me. I loved the reminiscence to Bella and Edward. That vapirish red-eyes are SO out of date.

  • Diane March 4, 2010 02:00 am

    Thanks for the article Natalie - great reminder to keep photos real and make sure the photo is done right in camera. I had to laugh at the eyes comment - when i see those radioactive eyes it just scares me!

  • Quck Photography Tips March 4, 2010 01:54 am

    My general rule of thumb (unless I'm just playing around) is that if it's obvious it's been through Photoshop, I've gone too far.

    When applying adjustments in Photoshop, I'll often dial the effect up to the point where it starts looking too much and then dial it back a good chunk.

    This post reminds me of my 4 Photoshop Cliches to Avoid (and how to do them) post from a little while ago.

  • philippe March 4, 2010 01:52 am

    Hi, very interesting article... stay away from the hype/effects!! I will retain one sentence, the most important to me, because the others are consequences: "My goal for my work is timelessness.". It should not stop from experimenting, trying new effect, but it reminds the importance on why we are applying a specific treatment to a picture.

  • Brandon March 4, 2010 01:38 am

    Thanks for the great article! It made me laugh. Well written.

  • Todd Eddy March 4, 2010 01:28 am

    I thought for sure HDR would be on here. Although I guess there are quite a few number of people that can do it well, it's the large number of super hdr "lets have a dynamic range of 50EV" that gives it a bad rep.

  • Beth March 4, 2010 01:24 am

    Hahaha... This makes me feel so much better about my minimalist approach to post-processing. There's a lot of pressure out there to "do cool stuff!" to my photos. But... I kinda just want the photos to be cool. Without lots of color changing and sparkles and whatnot. Thanks!

  • Trevor Sowers March 4, 2010 01:22 am

    I agree 100%.

    I consider my shoot a success when I simply import them into Aperture 3 with my favourite preset and I'm done.

    If I need to do more than that I start asking myself what I did wrong.

    I have pixelmator but use it very little for my photos.

    I agree with selective colour, unfortunately I have had people specifically ask for it on an image so off to pixelmator I go (in the interest of pleasing the customer).

  • TJ March 4, 2010 01:19 am

    ahaha this was a great way to start out hump day! I feel good that I've only really broke 2 of the "rules"...but they were the photoshop and selective coloring of course! For how much I agree with the photoshop rule...I think it is important to get used to using PS or some sort of editing software. It just makes things easier in the long run if you already a program integrated into your process. As for selective color...ugh...they make shots look great to those who don't know..but to those who do, it only gets worse. Some of my best shots get over looked, but as soon as I do a little SC...boom...it's golden. All in all, great stuff here!

  • Colin March 4, 2010 01:17 am

    I especially agree with (4). I had a mole on my chin and our wedding photographer removed it from all of our wedding photos. It didn't look like me anymore! I had to have the mole removed so I looked like my wedding photos :-)

  • Nicole March 4, 2010 01:13 am

    I so agree!!! I am really sick of scary, over processed eyes, smooooooth, pale skin and colors that make your eyes bleed. I especially hate newborn pics that are so over processed that the baby could be . Seriously, the wrinkles and pink/red skin are what newborns are supposed to look like.

    I am not a pro, but I am a serious photographer. I fell in love with photography in the days of film. I swore I'd NEVER go digital and I'd NEVER use Photoshop. I did end up going digital in the end....and I did take a Photoshop class and learned to love the medium. But sometimes I open a pic and edit it, then decide that I like the original as shot. I like that I have that background where WYSIWYG and you can't easily "fix" it.

  • Astrid and Rene Photography March 4, 2010 01:06 am

    Sure, actions, textures, vignettes etc. don't replace a good image and they certainly don't make a good image. But they can make a good image great in the right hands.

    It also has a lot to do with what your clients love and commission you to do. If you do it well and your clients love the work and are happy, then why not?

  • Bryan Creely March 4, 2010 01:03 am

    I agree with these but wanted to make a point about the selective color. I HATE using selective color for the most part but those images that I do selective color on (for weddings) ALWAYS get the best response. I don't know why. People think it's magic.

  • Donald E Giannatti March 4, 2010 01:01 am

    I may not be on board with this at all.

    And while I practice most of this, telling others not to is something I am uncomfortable with. I will try to articulate why this article didn't resonate with me.

    1. Agreed.

    2. Processing 'Fads' are annoying - BUT they are fads because the clients WANT them. The look that is so popular using three lights, increased shadow detail and post-processing that is somewhat over the top with desaturation and selective zones of color is widely popular (ESPN, Music magazines, advertising.) Telling someone to not learn what is a 'fad' may be limiting their ability to do a job for a client who wants it.

    3. Agreed. I don't like the look. But who made this decision?

    4. And again, while I agree from a personal standpoint, the editors at Vogue, W, Bazaar, Wallpaper and a couple of hundred other fashion magazines and fashion agencies seem to disagree. Not knowing how to do that could inhibit a photographer who is trying to get business.

    5. Yep. LOL... Yep.

    6. Oversaturation seems to be a subjective statement. One person's oversaturation is another photographers style. I am not mentioning names here, but there are some major players in the increased saturation style. Would the same then be said about de-saturation?

    7. Agreed.

    8. As a former, for a very brief time, I will tell you that I never showed that in my book, and was pointedly asked for it by the client. On several occasions. Should I have told my clients 'no'? As a commercial photographer, I like happy clients. I have no emotional attachments to the images my clients have paid for.

    9. LOL. Yes, oh dear God yes.

    10. Agreed. It can be tricky and somewhat challenging to pull off. I would suggest that the photographers try doing it with their own touches.

    I don't mean to come off as a curmudgeon, but this seems so much like a "I don't like this, so you shouldn't like this either list.

    That said, it does have some valuable information that beginning photographers should think about.

  • dcclark March 4, 2010 12:50 am

    Great stuff. It's good to have some things like this when you're just starting out -- then later on, when you've developed more confidence and knowledge, you can start "breaking the rules" a bit more. I often hear complaints about "rules" being too restrictive and stifling creativity -- but they really do help when you're just beginning.

  • Matthew Dutile March 4, 2010 12:45 am

    Couldn't agree more. Especially to selective coloring. Don't ever do it! It just makes me lol whenever I see it.

  • Lin March 4, 2010 12:45 am

    Great article! I must admit I rarely post process my pictures. I did try several times, but not a big fan. I'm still learning, though.

  • Zim March 4, 2010 12:44 am

    Well, I feel like I'm a disaster now. But it's nice to know I'm doing some things wrong. Interesting article, thank you :)

  • Bengt March 4, 2010 12:38 am

    Check this post as well http://photoandpictures.com/2010/03/more-simple-tips-to-remember-when-shooting/ Learning photography is a and o even if your david hill...

  • Susie March 4, 2010 12:33 am

    Thanks for the post, lots of good information & tips! I am new at DPS and also a new photograher. I am guilty of using vignette, however i never use it to the fullest, it doesnt look nice, like the picture you use as an examle. I cant say i have ever used any of the other techniques you mentioned..that makes me feel great! Thanks

  • Chris March 4, 2010 12:31 am

    I couldn't agree more with #1, although I myself didn't know photography when I first learned photoshop. I learned Photoshop 10 years ago as a sophomore in high school in a multimedia class. In those days, we were on Photoshop 6...I remember when Photoshop 7 came out and we were all chomping at the bit to use it haha!! I haven't used Photoshop since then, so this whole CS stuff is entirely new to me. I began getting into photography just over a year ago and have been delving into books on photography technique, reading this blog and learning about all kinds of stuff here, having conversations with friends of mine who are professional photographers and getting tips from them, and just getting out and practicing.

    In the last few months, I've begun to get a book or two from the library on Photoshop (although, they're old books with dust on them because yes, I still have Photoshop 7 and that's what I'm working on). I figure the basic concepts of Photoshop still exist regardless of the version I'm on, but I would love to upgrade to a more recent version at some point. But for now, I'm focusing on learning the art of photography and keeping the Photoshop stuff to a minimum (like adjsuting the overall levels, etc.).

  • go15 March 4, 2010 12:27 am

    I love this article. I'm just a newbie to photography...**8 months** but I don't use photoshop, I just adjust adjust a little brightness or contrast over Microsoft Office Manager, I only use photoshop if I really really really need to remove something. My friends would ask me, Do you photoshop your photos??...no..and they would be surprised, because they use it ALL THE TIME....XD...

  • Jay March 4, 2010 12:27 am

    Good article. One thing I will say is that sometimes clients will ask for things like selective color and photos processed with actions and/or textures. You have to give the client what they want. I do remember Zack Arias saying during one of his web critiques that if a client wants selective coloring or photos with actions, then go ahead and do it, but do NOT make those images part of your public portfolio.

  • Greg Taylor March 4, 2010 12:21 am

    I agree with the above points. No amount of post processing will make a bad photograph good or great for that matter. Be patient and concentrate on getting a great photo from the start. I am not a big believer in a large amount of post processing (just my opinion.) I use Aperture and typically the only corrections I make are cropping and adjust the exposure highs and lows (blk point & exposure controls on Aperture.)

    Here is a blog post with my three favorite tips for beginning photographers: http://grtaylor2.com/2010/02/three-photography-tips-for-beginners/