How I Use Photoshop

There has been a lot of discussion online lately about how photoshop shouldn’t be used to edit photos. While I completely agree with the sentiment behind this, as it’s common knowledge now that not even supermodels look like supermodels, I do disagree with the thought that photoshop should never be used.

I try to use photoshop  to correct issues, not perfect them. Therein, I believe, lies the difference. Perfection is not only a myth, it’s unrealistic and it gives people false expectations that can be seriously damaging to the psyche. There are, however, always things that can be corrected in a photo, from small little lighting tweaks to larger distractions that just need to be eliminated from the photo.

Take, for instance, this picture:


This was from a recent wedding. What I saw was how the bride and groom’s hands were entwined and how I thought it was really sweet. I loved that you could see her wedding and engagement rings, I loved the contrast between the dress and the black tux pants with the grass there as well. I don’t love, however, the people walking behind them.

When you’re photographing a wedding about 90% of the day things are completely not staged and you have to do your best to capture the day as beautifully as you can. There was no way I was going to walk to the bride and groom and say, “so hey, um, can you walk back down the aisle again, the same way you did, this time without the best man and maid of honor behind you just so I can get this one shot?” Nope – especially since they went straight into a receiving line where they greeted their family and friends.

So I took the photo and vowed I wouldn’t obsess over a missed opportunity and would see what I could do in photoshop. So the task, when I started editing it, was to edit it in such a way that it captured what *I* saw when I took the photo. I had to get rid of the tux pants and the dress and the bride’s face, while very lovely, I found to be another distraction from the photo. About 30 minutes of photoshop later and I got this:

IMG_5447The tux is gone, the dress is gone, and the focus is on the entwined hands, exactly where I wanted it to be. My daughter saw me working on this and remarked that I’d been editing this specific photo for quite awhile. I explained to her that while some photos are quick edits, others take quite a bit longer to edit because I know that they’re photos that are worth taking the time to edit.

I will never use photoshop to make someone look like someone they’re not, but instead take a vow here and now:

I, Randi, vow to use Photoshop to correct, not perfect.

If only more photographers would take this same vow!


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