Magazines and tabloids, even here in Perth, are full of stories about how certain individuals have been airbrushed or enhanced and social media is full of chatter and opinion about the latest paparazzi snaps.
So, is it ok in this day and age to make some ‘tweeks’ to commercial photography projects or should photographs be left to stand on their own? Should a company be OK with some ‘shopping’ on their corporate photos? The answer is how the photographs are going to be used.
Professional photos need processing
Most professional photographers will be shooting in a format called RAW and these files need to processed. Raw files have large amounts of raw data, hence the name, but they’re inherently flat and dull, which means things like colour, hue, sharpness, contrast and other variables need to be calibrated.
There’s a whole lot more to it but already we’re adding to the base photo file and making adjustments. If however you’re shooting jpegs then the processing and adjustments happen in camera when to you take the picture. That’s the reason that jpegs look better that unprocessed raw files. So for most pro-photographers this is all part of the job and most would argue – myself included – that this kind of processing doesn’t really constitute manipulation.
Photo adjustments that make sense
Digital media creation is about making everything look its best. So brightening or adding a little colour to a photo to me is totally acceptable. So too is cropping and the removal of blemishes, either from a still life, product shot, industrial landscape, portrait or whatever is being shot. Sometimes a little bit of dirt on the lens or something may have escaped your eye when the photo was being taken and a good editor will make very minor adjustments to get rid of them. The rule of thumb here is common sense. What you don’t want is a total fabrication of the original image or any of its components
Honest representation of photographs
The problem for most pro-shooters is when there’s a temptation to go a little too far and start to misrepresent the original photograph. This often happens in newspapers and magazines, both hard copy and online, and it can happen in corporate context too. So the question really is – what is acceptable when it comes to photo shopping? The answer is simply it depends on the photograph, how much of it has been altered, in what way and the context for which it’s being used. For example, if I’m shopping an image of a person to make them look younger, slimmer and more attractive in order to sell a product then, yes, that’s misrepresentation. But if I’m using the healing brush to remove a stray hair or a pimple from a corporate headshot then I’m certainly going to argue that it’s OK!
Work on creating great images
Another piece of advice I often give to students is to work on producing really good images on location or in the studio. Make sure you light subjects well, use the best available equipment and work hard on creating the best quality photographs you can because you’ll find that by doing that, you’ll have less to edit and when you do it’ll be a much easier and more pleasurable task.
If you need a professional photography and HD video production company based in Western Australia, contact Imagepro today for a friendly discussion about your next project and discover why we’re the image professionals