My friend and fellow photographer Andy Armstrong recently posted the above image on Facebook. I think it highlights a problem in photography today. "I can fix it later in Photoshop" has become a mantra to many photographer these days. To some, Photoshop has become the shortcut to actually knowing how to take a properly exposed image in camera. There is the belief to get it close and tweak it later in post processing. Or that by adding a funky PS action will "fix" an image. The skills involved in taking a superior photograph at the time of capture is being replaced by skill in front of the computer.
Now don't get me wrong, I am not a dinosaur pining away for the days of film and disappearing into a darkroom for hours on end. I love many, many features of digital capture. The ability to try something new and see the result instantly is priceless. As a tool to learning the ins and outs of proper exposure there is nothing better than digital. But surely it is better for all involved to get it right in the camera. Less time is spent in front of a computer trying to make something out of an image that just doesn't deserve it. Connecting to a client at the time of their session and creating a pricless image then, is more important and time better spent than "saving" an image later in post processing.
Understand I am not talking about basic retouching of an image - a stray hair or a pimple removed. I once missed a piece of white fuzz in the hair of portrait client. I spent hours in post production removing that piece of fuzz in dozens of otherwise great shots. I am talking about exposures that are off by several stops. An image shot under florescent light with daylight settings. "Sharpening" a poorly focused image just to get an image that more often than not is not worth the time spent on it.
The time spent on "second class" images devalues the photographers worth and increases the costs to the client's potentially. I am glad I learned to take images in the "film" era, where you had to slow down and make sure everything was right to ensure you weren't wasting film and therefore money. Today there are thousands of iamges being made that will never see more than moments life on a computer monitor and either be deleted or forgotten, taking up space on a hard drive somewhere. It is a false economy.
Time spent getting it right "in camera" is value to the photographer and their clients.