I don’t post-production the photographs I take because I want them to portray reality as it is!”
Surely among those who are reading this article there is someone who thinks so or almost everyone knows at least one person who thinks this way. Well, if you also belong to this philosophy of thought there is bad news for you: photography does not portray reality faithfully and cannot ignore post production, especially in the digital age we are experiencing now, whether you like it or not.
For example, taking a photo in RAW format, or the format of the image directly captured by the sensor without processing, when we go to display it on the computer screen, if we do not make any type of changes, it is very little “captivating”: the image it is flat, with little contrast, with dull and not very saturated colors and also not very clear. In short, a disappointing result that in most cases does not reflect what we saw directly with the eyes. However, the original image must be so visually “disappointing” because its destiny is to be subjected to post-production to make it more captivating and interesting to see.
The photo left is the result of the RAW format file without any type of processing, the photo right is the one obtained after performing post production in Camera Raw. The difference is there and you can see it, the elaborate photograph is more seductive and vibrant than the original and, if we want, even more real: in fact, after downloading the photo from the camera and looking at it on the screen as it was, it did not fully reflect the memory I had of the place, where the sky was an intense blue and the lawn had bright and saturated green and yellow hues. So, I made the adjustments in post-production trying to reproduce what I had seen with my eyes and that had remained imprinted in my memory. Considering that, for each of us,
Photography itself cannot be understood as a representation of reality, but as an interpretation of it. Already in the shooting phase we have to choose which portion of “reality” to include in the frame and which to exclude and already in this process a personal interpretation is implicit.
Shooting directly in JPEG, we should choose the settings with which the photography is developed directly by the camera software through the preset styles (landscape, portrait, monochrome etc.) or customized, in this case post-production (or perhaps in this case it would be fairer to talk about pre-production?) is done before shooting.
In conclusion, I personally believe that photography in a general sense cannot be separated from post-production and this must be considered as integral part of the workflow as taking a photo, as it completes a process that begins when we choose the shot.
Note: with the term post-production photography I mean any type of intervention that is done on the file in order to alter the image, from the simple adjustment of light and shades in Lightroom to the more complex interventions performed for example with the clone stamp in Photoshop.