Thursday, October 23, 2014

To Edit or not to Edit

How far will you go to fake your photos? That is a question I have asked myself quite a few times in the past few years. I started my toy photography thing with the noble idea of not making any changes to my photos after they were exposed in-camera, barring some colour and contrast tweaks. It was a challenge, a rule, I set for myself to make this more fun. I held on to that rule for quite a long time. It led to many discoveries—figuring out ways to create, say, a sun in the sky or rays of light in the air without adding them in Photoshop. I experimented a long time to get these things right in-camera and had quite a lot of fun with it.

Gradually, over the past couple of years, I have been slipping on the rule. After doing some commercial photography work, I realized that I will not die if I make things a little easier for myself from time to time. I still wouldn't add a sun in a post, but I began editing photos more liberally. Nothing exotic, not yet anyway.

You know those beautiful, heavily edited photographs that leave nothing to hope for, perfect in every way? I think they're fantastic, yet I find myself admiring the simple unfiltered photo just as well. While a technical brilliance can leave me in awe, a simple straight photo can be emotionally much more rewarding. This is true whether or not I’m photographing toys.

Now, the question "how far are you going to fake your photos?" lingers in my mind as I am starting work on something new. Does heavy editing make the photos closer to being perfect – or just generic? Is editing killing something in the photos? Is it like in the music business: would you use Autotune to sing better than you actually can?


  1. To me what makes this photo interesting is the lighting. The red laser is merely a necessary part of the star wars landscape. Would you need to do this type of edits if you were not playing in this world? I think that all those years of shooting without edits was necessary to get to this point, you need a mastery of the basics to move beyond them.

    1. You make an excellent point, it takes a lot of experience to know how to fake things properly in a photograph. This one has some moderate fakes, the laser, however, is real, not edited in. It is also a question about the general editing of a photo, not the manipulation of content as such. The colours and contrasts, cleaning all the little specks of dust, fixing imperfections on surfaces, things like that. Where is the line, when does an image become an illustration?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.