Is Post-Processing A Chore?
I recently came across an article on the excellent photography site, Light Stalking. The article title is: How to Take the Stress Out of Image Editing When You’ve Got Tons of Photos to Edit.
Although there is some very good advice for cutting down your workload, I found one quote particularly surprising:
“For many a photographer, this unwelcome chore is post-processing. And you know that the more shots you’ve taken, the more work lies ahead of you — but you can’t let your disdain for image editing dictate how many shots you take”
The idea that post-processing is a chore for some, and that some even felt disdain towards it, genuinely surprised me. Even wedding photographers and event photographers, who often have mountains of images to sort, and deadlines to work to, can take great joy in post-processing.
Granted, every photographer would prefer to be out in the field shooting rather than sitting in front of a computer. Yet, there’s a beautifully creative element to post-processing that can excite our minds if we let it. Even tweaking a few sliders can bring our images to life, which, to me, is still an enjoyable process.
To add to this I also received a comment from a friendly photographer on one of my images in flickr. This particular shot had taken 45 minutes in post. His comment was ‘Nice one Jimmy, but 45 minutes?’
The interesting thing is, while I include the processing times for each of my images on my blog, I do not consider time in any way when working. I’m simply absorbed in the wonderful process and let things flow until their natural progression.
It’s not uncommon for me to go through an entire workflow, wait until the next day to view it with fresh eyes, and then start again from fresh. I don’t feel any negativity when this happens because I love tapping into my creative mind and seeing everything unfold in front of me.
I’d prefer to process an image for 3 hours straight than to sit in front of the TV for that length of time, as many people do. In fact, our TV hasn’t been switched on once in 6 months.
Our lives are full of activities, like watching TV, that cause what psychologists refer to as ‘psychic entropy’ – a state where our mind is unchallenged and we lose the incredible functioning of our brain as time passes. Research has shown this to be a major cause of Alzheimer’s.
Alternatively, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, psychologist and author of the book Flow, talks about enriching our lives by taking part in tasks that absorb us, that make us lose our sense of time and self, that challenge us, and that we truly enjoy. He calls this the ‘flow state’.
While I enjoy some tasks more than others, with every step of photography, I feel myself absorbed, and I’m sure you have felt that too. When you’re sitting waiting for the light to change, with stunning scenery around, imagining the possible compositions and mood, there’s nothing else in the world to think about, nothing else but you, the camera, and the scene in front of you.
When I upload my images to my computer, I retain that flow state almost as soon as I have my chosen exposures in front of me. I feel like everything else fades away and it’s just me, my vision for the image, and Photoshop. Post-processing is one of the few activities that makes me forget my appetite, which is no easy task.
While every one of us has different tastes and preferences, and some don’t do any post-processing at all (apart from the in-camera post), I can’t help but think that those who do partake in post-processing, but see it as chore, are missing out on an important experience.
Clearly this is a one-sided view from me, not able to see from another person’s perspective. When someone is trying to explain to me their love of train/plane spotting, I just don’t get it. But I would never partake in those activities so I don’t need to get it.
However, if I found any part of the photography process a chore, like washing the dishes or taking the bins out, I think my passion for photography would dwindle somewhat.
Through post-processing we bring a flat RAW file to life, and no matter how short or long that process takes, it will always be an exciting one for me.
This entry was posted on Friday, August 29th, 2014 at 10:52 am
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