To Photoshop or Not to Photoshop

Bingo stunts and floating thoughts: 2 examples of modern photography that use old-school sensibilities. Think these were made using Photoshop? Think again!

To say that Photoshop has revolutionized the photo industry is no exaggeration. It has made post production a thousand times easier, giving even amateur photographers the tools to turn their images into veritable works of art. I’ve been using it to transform my regular photos into abstract ones, so much so that you can’t even recognize the original image, like this:

Photoshop can sometimes be a crutch, though. For some photographers, setting up a scene to look exactly the way you want it to be is best done with little to no help from an image editing program. Here’s a look at two examples.

Bingo mascots walk on water.

Apparently, online bingo is a cutthroat industry in the UK. You have to go big to get noticed, so it’s no wonder that some companies are willing to spend millions of pounds on marketing campaigns. When Gaming Realms debuted their new online bingo site Bingogodz last year, they decided to go as big as possible by setting up a water walking PR stunt at the Liverpool Canal. This shoot would have been fun to watch.

no photoshopThere’s nothing miraculous here, of course. Gaming Realms brought on UK-based firm  Marcus Mays Productions to oversee the production. Since the stunt was shot live, image editing was largely limited to post-production work. The result is a great example of something that is becoming more commonly seen in the photo and design industry: an actual live shoot where the end result has all the trappings of a computer-rendered image.  It’s kind of weird to make a live shot look computer generated… I wonder if maybe I could reverse engineer my abstract work and come up with a something realistic? 😉

Thoughts surround us.

French photographer Cerise Doucède is another photographer who takes pictures that look like they were run through an image editor but in fact weren’t. Her photos capture the essence of the daydreamer, leveraging objects suspended in midair to give viewers a glimpse into the minds of her subjects. In one photo, apples floats around a farm wife peeling apples in a kitchen. In another, an artist is surrounded by the tools of her trade. Check out a few of these cool art pieces.

Again, there’s no heavy Photoshopping involved in this particular collection. Each floating object is suspended using a thin piece of string, some of which can clearly be seen in the photos above. Setting up the scenes alone takes up to three days. With Photoshop, making one image would probably take only a few hours, but where’s the fun in that?

I think I’ve fallen into a rut creating art so swiftly using my photos and iPhone apps and Photoshop. I do love what I’ve created, and the surprises I get when something turns out really cool. But I miss the joy of creating with my hands, be it painting, sculpting, drawing or collaging. I think it’s time to get back to my roots and get physical!

As always I welcome your comments on this or any other part of my blog.


11 thoughts on “To Photoshop or Not to Photoshop

  1. I really enjoyed this post – and I am so glad I found your blog. Looking forward to peeking in on the creative things you seem to have all around you….
    have a nice week, ~y.

  2. That is a wonderful reflection about your photography. I am guilty of not taking that kind of time myself. I love the term ‘mindfulness’ applied to photography. Thank you!

  3. I think it’s so important to have fun and exercise your creative and artistic visions (I also loved the abstract you posted here!), but I did pause the other day while I was editing a photo and my husband said “Just leave it natural!” I realized that the real challenge for me is to take the time to think about the shot I want to take – to (gasp) pose the object(s) if possible, to move around for the best light, etc. I think for me, the next journey for photography is to cultivate some patience and mindfulness in my subject selection and setup. Thanks for this post!

  4. Thank you so much Sally! My degree is in ceramics. Perhaps I can get my own kiln for the Idaho ranch when we retire! In the meantime, collaging with some of my photos and other work sounds intriguing!

  5. I love the abstract ‘painting’ you’ve created from your photo Meghan. Love the colours! It sure can be fun setting up scenes like that and a lot of work as well. I would love to see what you come up with. Lovely post and thanks for sharing. 😀

  6. You raise an issue that is always floating through my mind. I bought Photoshop a few years ago, and have never used it. I keep vacillating back and forth about the process of learning it. Mostly, I do small amounts of editing with my DSLR. I’ve used the apps on my iPhone more as an experiment to create various effects that change the character yet keep the integrity of an image. I’m certainly not a Luddite when it comes to editing. I also am not a fan of HDR. I can spot it and it has an unnatural quality to it, yet it has many devotees. It’s a personal philosophy that pushes us to explore boundaries in different directions. Maybe you could start makior cutting up photos and redesigning them into collages or…Doing other kinds of artistic expression will open your way of seeing the world, and I understand your need to manipulate with your hands. For decades I was a fiber artist on the go to find natural materials to use. Thanks for a great post.

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