For awhile I’ve been posting on some photography groups in social media. Some people are surprised to discover that I’ve done all of my post processing work in Lightroom. Others are more surprised that I deliberately choose to steer clear from Photoshop as my weapon of choice. I actually subscribe to Adobe’s CC photography package so I do have both pieces of software. I even spent several years in graphic design where I heavily used photoshop for many designs. So it’s not that I am afraid of using Photoshop from a technical standpoint, or that I don’t have access to it. When I started in photography my focus was on learning what the camera was capable of. I wasn’t concerned with what I could do on my computer. I had been there. Done that. I knew that I could create entire worlds with software. What I wanted to do instead was capture the world I was living in; capture my kids discovering the magic of our mundane reality. Photoshop could help create some of the imaginary worlds that we see in films and dreams, but I felt like for my goal as a photographer Photoshop was the very definition of overkill. I had all the power I needed with a lens, a camera, and the lightweight champion, Lightroom. I also loved that I could get from a RAW photo to a finished result in a few very short minutes and I didn’t need a supercomputer to do it.
…Photoshop can do everything that Lightroom can do and so much more…
I’ve heard plenty of people try to convince me to use the industry standard by saying how Photoshop can do everything that Lightroom can do and so much more. I knew this. In fact, that’s the exact reason I stay away from it. When I opened up Lightroom I knew that I was editing with limitations. Having these limitations kept me grounded. What I was worried about with sitting in front of the “PS” logo was that I would start to abuse its power. That I would abandon the very core of my photography and embark on a journey to create worlds that might not exist. Because for most of us, the fantasy is far more fun than reality. Then I cheated. One day during my last vacation I went out and took some photos of my oldest son during sunset. I loved the golden light bouncing off the surrounding snow. However, there was one thing that really bothered me… There wasn’t any actual snow falling. I had missed the falling snow because I wanted to wait for the perfect light. That’s when I had opened Photoshop for the first time and played around with a couple of overlays including some from
. I had a little fun with it for the night and even posted the result on all of my social network pages.
However, by morning the whole experience made me feel cheap. I had just done what I had avoided for so long; I created a world that didn’t exist. I fabricated a memory. Now I’m sure a lot of you are saying right now, “so what? You added some snow! It was snowing just hours before you took the photo…” I get that perspective. But I got into photography because I wanted to capture my childrens’ imagination in reality. Not to design a new reality. If it were snowing when I took the photo, the light wouldn’t have been quite the same. My son wouldn’t have been as comfortable. The photo was a sham and I knew it. Even though I knew I didn’t love what I had just done I gave the falling snow another go around. I applied it to a photo that was more fantasy than reality. I had a concept in my head about King Arthur and had a sword at my disposal. The image was fine without photoshop but I figured, sure why not add in the snow again and add some more dynamics to the story. This time I didn’t have as much fun like I did the first time I added some falling snow. After that, I was done with augmenting my reality on my 13" laptop screen. I had reaffirmed that I was a photographer and not a digital artist. Now hold on just a second before you think I’m saying everyone who uses photoshop is cheating or isn’t a photographer. I’m not saying that one bit. In fact, some of my favorite photographers use the tool. Some use it heavily, some use it as if it were Lightroom. I have a very large amount of respect for these artists irrespective of what tools they use to create their final image. The reason I say I felt like I was cheating is because I wasn’t being true to myself as an artist when I used Photoshop. I will continue to avoid photoshop for any of my images and stay true to who I am as a photographer. Just like other photographers and artists will continue creating amazing work utilizing Photoshop. The question isn’t why I use Lightroom over Photoshop. What you really want to do is ask yourself what is at the core of your photography.