Photographer or Software – Which is More Important? / by John Clark

While browsing Twitter, my friends at @enviragallery posted an interesting “question of the day.” It got me thinking, and to really answer the question I felt more than the 280 character limit of Twitter was needed.

At face value, the question is rather simple. They asked:

Photographers, which do you think is more important: the talent of a photographer with their camera, or with editing and post-processing?
— Envira Gallery via Twitter


Now there is no question that the post-processing software programs photographers have available today are nothing short of incredible. Programs such as Adobe Lightroom®, ON1 Photo RAW and their peers can do an amazing job of turning a “bad” photograph into a good, or even great one.

Camera sensors and lenses have definite limitations, and software can help fix some of these hardware issues (high ISO noise, chromatic aberration, etc.). Software can also fix many of the errors by a photographer who missed the exposure, or one of the thousands of other issues we tend to overlook while in the field.

Software can also bring that vision to life. It can adjust white balance, temperature, enhance vibrancy, and even turn a world of color into shades of grey. It is the final step in taking that moment we captured and turning it into a photo that we are proud of.

But what cannot ever be fixed in post-processing is a badly composed photo. It takes a skilled photographer to be able to find a strong subject, visualize the photo, to know that a high or low angle would be needed, or even the correct lens and focal length. And, not to mention, manipulate the exposure triangle to capture the photo with the right shutter speed, aperture and ISO. This knowledge comes from experience and talent, but only with a strong base image can the software take it to the next level.

Sorry to say, but if you start with a boring photo it really doesn’t matter how good you are at the computer. It will, most likely, still remain a boring photograph (though a better looking one!).

So, my answer to the question is that both are important in the process. Critical, even.

It takes skill behind the keyboard to give a photo that “wow” factor. However, a talented photographer is more important in the end.

So, that’s my take on the question… What do you think? Drop me a comment and let me know what you consider most important.

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