Did You Photoshop This?

One fine day at an exhibition and potential customers are milling about looking at my work.  I'm approached by a gallery viewer and she gives praise and criticizes all in the same sentence.  "Your work is stunning, did you Photoshop them?".  I get this all the time as the viewer wants to discard any talent you might have and credit either your camera or Photoshop for the image.  Most times the comment is made with a certain amount of snobbery thinking that they know how you pulled off that magic trick. 

We strive to do as much in camera while we're in the field but sometimes a tweak is needed to finish the image.  Photoshop or any other photographic application is the modern day darkroom.  Processing the "film" went from loading and souping to transferring files from a memory card.  Dodging and Burning went from holding your hand in the light while exposing paper to brushing in highlights and shadows.  The principle is the same, the tools have gotten better.   Photoshop is another way to push creative boundaries like we could never do before.  We still address the same principles of photography as we did in the darkroom.  Color correction, highlights, shadows and yes even removing or adding objects from the image were done in the dark.  We have been manipulating images long before Photoshop, it's just gotten easier to do.

My answer to the question of using Photoshop?  I say "Why yes, I use Photoshop.  Do you like the image?".  Most often the conversation moves to how much they love the image and how it makes them feel rather than the mechanics of creation.  Most don't know the long history of how photographic imaging has gotten to this point and nor should they.


Next blog:  Filters, when to use them and the best ones for your tool kit.