In commercial photography, even more time can be spent on post-production than the photo shoot itself. But, is post-production essential? Can we just use the images straight out of the camera as they are?Bottom line, with today’s high-end gear, there isn’t a single photo I’ve ever seen right out of a camera that couldn’t be improved with post-processing. Even if just a little bit, it’s often enough to notice a difference.
That’s not to say I’ve never seen a great picture right out of the camera – I obviously have. It’s just that, for every image you create, you should ask of yourself two questions: “can I improve upon this next time I shoot it” and “can I improve this photo in post-production?” For the latter – and probably for both – if you understand the power of post-production, you’ll always answer yes.
While it’s just about every commercial photographer’s goal to get as much correct in camera, visible improvements can almost always be made in post-production and you can always make minor improvements too. Think of it this way, it’s like the toppings on your favorite pizza… A cheese pizza alone can be good tasting but adding all those toppings you so love simply elevates it. The layers of goodness jazz up the flavor and the visual appeal. Post-production is just that – it always has the ability to elevate an image. There is a lot of creative freedom in powerful post-production software to make images pop just that much more.
There are almost always essential corrections that can be made, like clearing up blemishes on a face or items that you later find you don’t want in the image. For example, it could be a piece of lint or dust ball on the floor or on someone’s shirt. Of course, you might also improve coloring or simply change it completely for dramatic effect. Sometimes you’ll find a better crop in post-production. And on, and on…
Post processing is an essential part of the workflow and it requires the use of very powerful software and machines to do it. There are some very talented retouchers out there that can make your jaw drop at what they can do to a photo. As mentioned, you might spend more time on one photo in post than you did the entire photo shoot. And, that’s not necessarily because the image needed fixing. It’s often for creative reasons.
So, is post-production essential to photography? It’s about as essential as pepperoni is to my favorite pizza pie.