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Technical perfection vs photos with soul

Technical perfection vs photos with soul

When you’re learning a new skill or trying to perfect your craft, it’s natural to aim for perfection, to want your shot to be absolutely the best it can be.


And it’s great to have high standards and to push yourself to grow and improve as a photographer.

But there are times when perfection matters less than taking a shot that has soul, a picture that tells a compelling story, despite – or maybe even because of – its technical flaws.

In this video, from popular landscape photographer and youtube, Thomas Heaton, he talks about a few recent shots that he knows are far from perfect, but he loves them anyway.

He loves the mood or the atmosphere or the way the imperfections actually add to the image on some level.

So, if you’re still learning your photography craft and sometimes feel disappointed with your level of technical skills, take heart that there is more to great photography than the perfect exposure or depth of field.

As Thomas says;

“It’s all about what happens in the moment, that split second when you press the shutter and capture what’s in front of you.”

Photography without Photoshop

Photography without Photoshop

It’s undoubtable that Photoshop is a fantastic tool for photographers and lots of the professionals out there swear by being able to tweak their images in order to provide clients with a perfect service or create a style that might have been impossible without the help of photo editing.

However, it isn’t imperative to use Photoshop or any editing tool for that matter to achieve fantastic quality images, take a look at the brilliant images on this top 100 best photographs without photoshop list for some great examples of the affects you can achieve even without the handy Photoshop editing tool at your fingertips.

For those of you out there that argue that Photoshop shouldn’t be used at all and that it lends photography to merge more closely with graphic design than it should, this article might have the odd useful tip or reminder in there.

However, this post is less about a stance on photo editing than that. I can agree with both sides of the argument to a point one side being that a photograph can be made beautiful in its purest form and the other side being that when working for a client any tool there is available to you should be used to ensure client satisfaction and the best results possible.

What this post is saying is that if you are right at the beginning of your photographic journey and you can’t get your hands-on editing tools like Photoshop it might not be the end of the world. In fact, it may actually benefit you and help you learn how to get some great results pre-editing.

Here are some ideas of ways in which you can get picture perfect images with less editing:

  • Reduce the need for post-production by knowing the goal of your photos and selecting lighting and sets that will lend themselves to your desired outcome. For example if you are looking for an image to be used on a valentines card or advert you might want to consider a romantic backdrop with subdued natural lighting and your subjects posed in a way that you can take close ups and angles that make the image ‘glow’ with romanticism without the need of touching up or adjusting
  • If you don’t have the option for post editing you might also want to consider taking similar shots in different locations so that you can have some options when it comes to lighting and backdrops
  • Get up close and personal with all the workings of your camera. If you know how to use the tools in your hand effectively then you’ll reduce the risk of mid-shot panic and be able to get in tune with the right shutter speeds for the subject. Generally if your shutter speed is low then shots taken in darker locations will come out better and vice versa but practice, practice, practice and don’t be scared of the manual!
  • You can often get great scope, contrast and lighting on an image that will naturally look fantastic just by using the location and lighting you have available wisely. This will take research and practice so don’t give in easily.

Now if the reason you aren’t editing your images is simply due to lack of financial investment to put into programmes then don’t despair, there are a few decent editing tools out there you can use for free to get you started, take a look at things like GIMP, The NK Collection or similar tools you can download for free online (try to get recommendations and research them before downloading though).