Declutter Your Workflow
Simplifying the Photographic Process
Being of Service To Others
DeeDee and I travel to a lot of places in the central midwest to photograph the images that are in our series of books, calendars, greeting cards, various publications and media outlets. I do mean a lot. In our travels we tend to bump into quite a few photographers along the way. People who take pictures are anywhere and everywhere. There are casual, serious and professional shooters alike. They often times occupy the same locations at the same time. We just join the crowd and blend in when this happens. It’s always interesting to talk shop, equipment, software and discuss ideas and techniques when time allows or the opportunity presents itself. Occasionally someone will ask us for advice or know how and we get to instruct them in a camera function or photo technique, so we’ll stop what we are doing and give them our best instructions to the best of our abilities. It’s always satisfying to assist someone that wants to learn and leave them with some useful information.
Show and Tell
Take a quick minute to look at the “about” page and scroll to the bottom. As you look through the gear list of equipment that DeeDee and I use for landscape photography, one thing you might notice right away is the lack of new equipment. We don’t have an immediate need for it. I find all too often that many people I know and meet are swept up in having the newest gear on the market, or seem to be looking for that magical camera that can take great shots with little more required on their part than pushing a button no matter the expense. This seems to apply to the professionals and the more serious photo crowd rather than the casual shooters. As good as cameras and software have become, we still need to know how to use them properly and how to process our images. People are also influenced by other photographers and the gear that they use, especially when those photographers rave about what gear they used to get their shots. I have heard people say, “Well, this person on social media said I had to have this camera model and accessories if I want my shots to look as good as theirs.” I ask people to look past new gear on purpose because it’s very important to understand that the gear is only a part of making great images. I can’t stress this one enough. Gear is only a part of making images. I do agree that people need certain lenses, filters, and accessories. I’m not disputing that. Different types of photography calls for specific types of gear. I’m saying you don’t have to have new equipment to make amazing images but rather far from it. You just need to know how to operate the camera you own and know some basic photography fundamentals.
Do You Really Need It?
My gear is of high quality and still fits my needs to this day, and with this gear I have no problem making top notch images despite it not being the newest things on the market. It’s not an obstacle for me to overcome at all. It’s also a huge money saver as well and I always look for used equipment and deals when I do decide I might need to have something, but that honestly isn’t very often. Quality gear is out there that won’t break the bank and it doesn’t have to be brand new. There are several camera shops that carry high quality used gear and we all know there are on line auctions where deals can be had if you are patient and take the time to look for a bargain. Don’t fall victim to believing that only a new camera or specific gear is needed to get the images you want to take. My advice to people that are on the fence about what to do with their time and money is not to invest in new gear, but rather invest in furthering their education and better learning their camera and their photography. This is time well spent and once you learn something that can never be taken away from you. There are many outlets available today to further learn what interests us. Tutorials are money well spent in my opinion, and there are no shortages of them for any craft we want to learn and not just photography. Research the ones you are interested in and read the reviews to be sure you won’t be disappointed with your purchase. Some of them are very pricey so be sure to do your homework. There are also online subscription services available for photographers to learn their craft. These are also worth looking into. Obviously the more you know behind the camera, the better your photos will be. It’s a given.
Don't Overcomplicate The Editing
Another area many people tend to avoid learning is the post work and editing. It has gotten to the point where many photographers are now unnecessarily over complicating this task in my opinion. You may find this hard to believe but the images in our book series and showcased on our websites, while yes they are edited, they are not overly edited. We keep what editing we do to most images relatively simple most of the time. I am a firm believer in less is more in my images and I keep the editing grounded in the traditions and techniques I learned in my days as a commercial custom darkroom printer. Once in a while I might decide to spend more time on something, but that is purely by choice. I hear some photographers preaching that the only way your images will shine is to now use several software and filter packages. I personally think this tends to scare many people off because of the costs of buying multiple software packages, but also learning these new programs and filters. In my opinion this is over complicating the editing workflow. I can get amazing results with a simplified workflow and minimal software packages. I use Adobe Bridge for my asset management software. I love the way I can organize, sort, label, mark, search, etc my images in it. I honestly can not imagine a better way to keep track of my images. Once they are ready to edit, the raw files are opened into Adobe Camera Raw where I apply a preset with the basic adjustments I want to apply to my images. Once I am happy with what I see here, the image is brought into Adobe Photoshop and some basic edits are done there. Occasionally I will have to further reduce noise with Luminar Macphun’s Denoise filter if I can’t get a satisfactory result from Adobe Camera Raw or inside Photoshop. Aside from this, all of my editing is done between ACR and Photoshop. I can honestly achieve the results I want in one software package and workflow strategy. I spend less time editing but still get the results I want with no loss of quality. In order to be open minded, I have tried and looked at other software and filters and have came to the conclusion that I can currently do anything in Photoshop that needs to be done to my images, so I opt to keep things simplified. If your camera work is solid and based on knowing how to use it properly, apply the correct settings and techniques in a given situation, the editing will be relatively easy and multiple software packages will not be needed.
Photography, like art, is purely subjective. What one person loves in a photo or art another person will be critical of. I know this is opening a can of worms, but it’s important to keep in mind that there is no right way to take a photo and there is no wrong way. There is only the way an individual prefers to take their photos. Sure, we can discuss the fine points all day long, composition, lighting, location, editing or no editing, but in the end, people take photos the way they prefer to take them. I believe it is important to learn to accept and navigate your wants and needs in making images that suit your taste and style and reflect you as an individual. People that do their own thing and are not worried about public acceptance tend to be more unique. They bring their forth their own visions and not that of someone else. These are the people who are happiest in what they do. In the end, if the way you are taking photos, editing and sharing them makes you happy, then keep doing it. We should never overlook what makes us happy no matter the public opinion. This is what makes your work unique to you regardless if someone else deems it good or bad.
All of this has been basically to say, I’m a firm believer that the newest gear isn’t a necessity, but rather learning to use the gear you have and how to process your images correctly is what is essential to making quality photos. I’m convinced this is the secret ingredient people are looking for, not some magical new camera or software package…