Before and Afters

Before and Afters

A friend and commenter on this lovely blog of mine recently asked to see a before and after example of one of my recent refurbished images and I am happily obliging. Time must be changing me because this is something I would have never previously been really comfortable doing. This is most definitely because I consider the image straight out of my camera unfinished work and have always felt the original impression and opinion of the finished image would then be compromised. Quite like seeing a “making-of” special on a good movie. As interesting as I find them I also believe they kind of ruin the magic of the movie itself. I also don’t like the prospect of having to defend my raw images to “REAL” pompous photographers who take every opportunity to tell ever pour soul who’ll listen that their work is “straight out of the camera” and “has not been touched by Photoshop at all” in a simultaneous effort to put themselves on a pedestal and insult those of us who use and enjoy Photoshop like film photographers of the past used and enjoyed darkrooms. And you know what most of these “photographers” have in common? Their work completely sucks. Any true artist will use the tools available to them to accomplish their objective. It’s about doing what you love and how you get there shouldn’t be an issue. I feel bad for those who obsess over the latter, appearances, and the opinions of others.

At my last solo-show I was actually approached by a guy my age who spent no less than 5 minutes or so praising my work before learning that it was digital. And then like the pretentious prick that he was he said “I can’t believe you shoot digital,” gave me a look of disbelieving disgust and horror and then returned to sit with his hipster art friends. (This is probably why I’ve always been so resistant to the “artist” label. I’d rather not be lumped in with these people if I can help it.) Anyway, it’s almost like he was pissed with me for duping him, for tricking him into believing my work was real art which according to him, it wasn’t of course since it wasn’t film. I was insulted for about a second before it occurred to me that I couldn’t give a flying fuck what this loser thought of my work and my process. And then I felt silly for feeling insulted even at ALL. I think I was just shocked really, that these people actually exist in the real world and not just in some lame late-90’s teen movie.

I will add this disclaimer though (so I’m not eating these words later!): Photoshop, like any tool, is just that: a TOOL and should not be used in excess. There are those existing on the opposite end of this argument that abuse the hell out of that program but I’ll save this rant for another allergy-pill and exhaustion induced day.

Annyywaaayy, the above image is 4 of the same photograph. The first is the raw original (“straight out of the camera”, no less!), the second is the first edit I did back in 2007 which you’ll see wasn’t too drastically different from the original, the third – also done in 2007 – was a much-washed-out version (I went through a phase of this, I think), and the fourth is the “refurbished” edit I just completed last week. I wasn’t compelled to create a refurbished color version of this piece but I did of others in this same series which you can see on my Flickr. My latest love is highlighting imperfections which kinda surprises me since hiding them is all I used to do. That might be evident in this example. I have absolutely fallen in love with the Shadow/Highlight tool.

Finally – for a while now I’ve pondered recording my process on the computer, a video, but because I’m not sure how many people would find that interesting coupled with my privacy preferences when it comes to my creating it’s not something I’ve decided on doing. But if this sounds intriguing to you, definitely make your voice heard!

Join the conversation! 13 Comments

  1. Love it, this is exactly what I wanted to see! I’m getting a little more into actually changing the look of a photo, instead of using Photoshop to just enhance. Your newest edits have inspired me to push it further. I guess I worry about it being too photoshop-y… but yours never do. I’d be SO excited to see a video of you working, only if you feel comfortable sharing of course! I’m sure we’d all learn so much from it.

    And about those ‘real photographers’ – jerks! It’s all about process and photoshop is a part of yours, they need to move on or go hide in their dark rooms and stay there! And don’t forget, you were the one with a show – they were just attending! That definitely says something.

    • That’s EXCITING. I’d love to see some of the results you’re coming up with. Try not to worry about anything looking too-photoshopped and just keep going until you’re happy with the results. You’re an artist and you have a keen eye for what looks good and what doesn’t so try to trust your instincts! If you need some guidance or have any questions I’d be happy to answer them for you. If you’d like to send me a raw file that you’d like me to dd some adjustment layers to to get you started, just let me know.

      And I’ll definitely truly consider doing the video thing. The only thing that sucks is I rarely start from scratch on a new image anymore. I tend to save a lot of my fsvorite adjustment combinations and then will just pull those over onto a new image and add or subtract or adjust from there! Does that make sense? I fear I may be out of practice at starting from scratch!

  2. Becks,

    I admire and enjoy your work, but above all, I admire you as an individual.

  3. I shamefully admit that in the beginning, I was one of “them”. I’ve thankfully seen the light since those days. Don’t let a bunch of pretenders fool you. You ARE an artist.

  4. I would be totally up for watching a video! I am awful at editing photos in photoshop anymore. I’m so out of practice. also, it’s nice to see all these different variations of the same photograph – I don’t think it looks bad before by any means, but I definitely think you do a great job of using photoshop to enhance the photo and make it your own style. you are too good.

  5. Man that scar looks like I got stabbed in the throat.

    I love all the versions :) You’ve never taken a bad photo of me.

  6. Great post as always Becky. I love getting a peek into how other photographers do what they do — and I agree with you 100% with regard to photoshop and the “SOOC” assholes.

    I for one would love to see a video of your workflow!

  7. As if our great photographers over the past two centuries wouldn’t have been masters of digital photography if it had been available to them. I love film, and digital, and any form of photographic expression. A photo major friend of mine said it best: Anything can look good if it’s done well.

    Count me in as someone who would like to watch a video :).


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