As we ride the social photography boom of today with smartphones, social networks and mobile apps, there is a growing dependence on filters and post processing applications to give your photographs that extra oomph. It's a question I always get when posting photos on socials media, "What filter did you use?". Answer is, when the shot is a great shot, "None" and even minimal post processing.
Often times, we are looking to amplify the photo with filters or moods in the way we post process a photograph, trying to stand out or replicate something we saw on another social media post. Great, but my thought process is to use filters or heavy post for special occasions when there is a purpose to it rather than applying it to each and every photo. Focus on what the photo is trying to tell you rather than imposing the mood on the photo. When everything has a filter applied to it, then whats the point. You are just beating the filter use to death and creating a boring series of photographs.
I tell people that "Special Photos often do not need much done to it." When you have captured that moment or emotion in a still and frozen that moment, often times that message itself is bigger than anything post processing can do. When I open up a photo in Lightroom that I know is special, I seem to always notice that I do not do much with it past a few minor exposure, shadows and light filling levers. Leaving more dramatic levers such as curves or contrast to minimal to none.
This is because those special photographs already have the color, light or shadow, and texture to it. These messages shine thru bright and loud and that is really all of what photography is about. The moment we start to rely on filters and post processing for all our images, we have lost our way. Photography applications are a tool to take a photographs flaws and fix them more often than not, rather than magically turning dull photos into a great one. That rarely happens.
I have friends who think that I have used Lightroom to my photos at times to create effects on an image and when I explain to them that those images are minimally edited, sometimes I get disbelief. If you frame, capture and expose your image perfectly for a special moment in time, those items alone are 95% of a great image.
With the emergence of smartphones and increasing quality of photos from it, along with the emergence of more and more photography applications such as Instagram, the craze of photography will only grow. There is a reason the filter industry is huge and most common users of smartphones will look for this. Filters used to differentiate you from a crowd but now with the boom of filters your more of just fitting in than standing out. It really makes me see how the latest popular trend is the old film look has become a thing. It stands out more than ever.
If you look at some of the most classical or popular photos of all time, most of these were in an era where post processing was a non existent factor. Film and pre-tech boom times was a different age but also a great one. We lose ourselves in technology at times and forget to focus on the essence of photography. Don't get me wrong, I am a total tech geek coming from an information technology background, but I try to think less of the tech vs the meaning of the photo. Technology is a great thing to have in photography today, I use it and will never say its not to be used. I just look to share the message of what I believe in photography, that technology is just another tool in the Swiss army knife but not the prime tool in the pocket.
If we all start to embrace both technology and the meaning of photos, I really believe we will begin to create photos that shine. Giving a photograph a view, an opinion and a belief is what will make an album of photos an amazing set of images.