Making photographs look like photographs

Many photographers, consumers, prosumers and experts, newbies and veterans, old-school and new-school, want their photographs to look like illustrations.

This group tends to love exaggerated effects, highly processed photography, composites, and is often, admirably, more conceptual in nature, in their approach to image taking and making. Good for them!

Different paths to the same destination. To each their own.

I want my photographs to look like… photographs.

I want my photographs to come, as close as possible, to what I experienced, when I viewed the scene, subject, or scenario.

I want to bring focused attention to the content, not my craft.

For what a picture says (content) is more important than how it was created (craft)

By this I mean, I want my photographs that both, at a casual glance and studied gaze, to myself and others viewing them, look unprocessed, organic, natural to the eye, even app-free.

In photography, this is an extremely tall order, given the obvious fact that our two-dimensional reproductions of reality (what a photograph is) are quite different than how our eyes actually see the same three-dimensional reality.

Even the lens choices we use, on our phone cameras, alter, in subtle ways, our final perspective and perception of a finished photograph.

By the time we are looking at photos on our smartphone retina screens, they have already been, majorly or minorly, processed by the camera hardware and software you are using to take the picture.

Both, the abbreviation SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) and the popular hashtags #nofilter, while well-meaning, and meant to serve traditional and purest ends, are, in fact, misleading. And we would probably do better without propagating either term.

Again, if you primarily take pictures with your smartphones, by the time you see the image, guess what, yes, even in ProRaw, it has already been tweaked. Sorry.

Here’s the deal and it’s a simple one. If someone looks at your photos and mostly sees the “technique” or the apps you use, to create the photographs, you probably missed the point. Back to the drawing board.

My drivers in photography, which have governed my entire 40+ year career, are… minimal, natural, modern.

Don’t get me wrong, most digital photos, coming out of even the best cameras today, phone cameras, and dedicated cameras, need post-processing adjustments, improvements, modifications. They really do. Live with it.

A little goes a long way, even in making your photographs look like… photographs.



Jack Hollingsworth