The good old days. Everyone has a different idea in mind when they hear that phrase.
For me, it means the days when photographers all shot on film--either black and white or Kodachrome. The corporate photographers that I work with used to shoot the job, send the exposed film to a lab for processing, and then go on to the next job (or go home). Everything else in post-production was left to yours truly.
I remember standing over a lightbox in the early days of DB&A editing boxes and boxes of slides with a loupe, trying to weed out just exactly the perfect images. And there were always so many.
The next step was stamping each slide or contact sheet with the copyright symbol, the name of the photographer and the date. Quaintly, I used a rubber stamp and a black ink pad.
And finally, putting the "perfect" images back into the boxes, labeling every box with the job name and photographer, packing them up and sending them off to the client. The whole process could easily take more than a full day.
Back then, the photographer was hired strictly for bringing his or her vision to the situation. And by vision I mean the light, the exposure, the composition, the color and contrast, not to mention experience.
Of course, the photographer is still hired for his or her vision. But, with the advent of digital cameras, the photographer is expected to process the images (better known as downloading to the computer), editing the shoot (on the computer, of course), and organizing the images so they can be sent to the client electronically. In other words, a couple of new skill sets for the photographers who were used to shooting film.
But the biggest learning curve for those photographers, I think, was getting the retouching (or Photoshopping) skill down pat. Though it seems to be a requirement now on all photo shoots, some photographers still don't feel comfortable doing it, and so they farm it out to a professional.
That's really not surprising when you think about it. Many, many photographers were taught to shoot so that the image they capture in the camera IS the final image. No cropping, no manipulation of any kind. So, trying to deal with the client's expectation of Photoshopping one's own images, well, it can be a bitter pill to swallow at best and downright impossible at the worst.
Amos Chan is one of those photographers who recognized early on the need to have at least a working knowledge of Photoshop. But, just because he's good at tweaking his images in post-production, doesn't mean he needs to do so.
Take the ten personal images shown below. Only two of them have been Photoshopped. All the rest are straight out of the camera. Can you tell which two he "worked on?" Check in with me if you want to know which two they are.
All images ?Amos Chan (based in NYC)
As far was whether retouching is necessary, it's really up to you. Executive portraits, yes, I get it. Employees working on site, not so much.
But here's a tip for those of you who hire photographers to shoot for your company. Find out how the photographer likes to handle retouching before the shoot. And then be sure you know how he/she charges for it. Some photographers bill by the hour; some by the file. And there are wild differences in pricing from one photographer to another.
Retouching has been around for a long time, of course, but, for those of you who like this kind of info, the first Photoshop software was introduced by Adobe in Oct. 1988 (only for Macintosh).
And apropos of nothing really, today, April 23, 2015, marks the 10th anniversary of the first video posted on YouTube. It's called "Me at the Zoo," with the sub-headline, "With Nothing Much to Say" ( Not really. I just made that sub-headline up, but you'll see why when you watch it).