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Is post-processing important?

I think that today for many young photographers, post-processing is the most important part of the creative process.

While it's certainly true that the creative process does not end after we've released the shutter, many people see the initial image capture as a very small part of the process and can lose sight of what makes a photograph special.

Here's an example; below is one of Edward Weston's most famous photos.

Weston was on his way home from a day of shooting when he happened upon his wife, Charis, who was sunbathing on the back porch.  He stopped, she looked up and then put her head back down, striking the pose we see.

He quickly set up his camera, exposed a plate, and continued on inside.

Interestingly enough, it is said that Edward always disliked the shadow on her right arm.  It has been said it would have been easy for him to simply re-take the photo.  After all, the model was his wife and it was taken at his home.

If Edward had lived in the digital age, he could have used content-aware Photoshop to fix the annoying shadow.

However, he never changed it.  Never re-shot.  Never fixed it in the darkroom.


Because there was no need to.

The photo is perfect just as it is.  The most important part of the process for him was complete; he recorded what he saw and presented it to us, shadow and all.

Something else that I find interesting about this photo is that I never noticed the shadow until I read that he disliked it.  Oh, I saw it, but it was just a small part of a whole that was truly greater than its parts.

And that is why the post-processing step that today's photographers swoon over, is really the least important.  I think many people today lose sight of what photo

I'm glad the shadow is there.  It reminds me that no photograph will ever be perfect and that in some cases overzealous use of post-processing technique can hurt more help.