Toronto, Metro Hall, Before and AfterI get the question surprisingly often “can you post the original image”, and my answer is always the same, “no”. Rather than breaking into a lengthy explanation each time, I’m writing this article so that I can redirect future requests here. The reasons I don’t share my originals are many fold but also simple.

I consider photography to be the entire process of bringing an image from my eye onto the screen or print. This includes the capture and the retouching/post processing. In the days of film post processing was done painstakingly in the darkroom and to an extent, through the selection of film type. Today things have gotten a bit easier and we have tools like Camera Raw and Photoshop to help us achieve these effects and many more. While I try to always retain the original essence of what made the subject appealing to me, my aim in Photoshop is to bring out the qualities that were always there but I was incapable of capturing in the camera alone. The camera provides you with a handful of settings: aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance and focal length, and while I aim to get these right in camera, achieving the look that I deliver in my final images is simply not possible with them alone. My original vision of the photo includes the post processing that I will do to it, and therefore giving anyone an unprocessed shot is nothing more than providing them with an incomplete piece of work. Furthermore, the final image is often a blend of multiple exposures, be they varied shutter speeds, apertures, etc., and so an out of camera shot is only one piece of the puzzle and is in no way representative of the final image.

A similar story can be told of fashion, beauty and portrait shots. How often does one see a fashion shot with no processing at all, with all its original colors and flaws in tact? Not too often. Beauty shots take this to an even further level by emphasizing perfection above all else. Is this a good thing, or the right thing? I’m not necessarily saying it is but it’s simply the nature of that type of shot and I’m not one to debate or change that. Once again, showing an unedited shot would effectively fail to deliver its intended goal. With portraiture my editing is restricted to cleaning up blemishes and bringing back some of the depth and beauty that was lost when the sensor captured the image. In a portrait I want to make the subject look like themselves but also look their best, and this still involves some basic processing. Once again, showing you an unedited image is me doing a disservice to the subject because I’m not showing you the way they really look. After all, nobody looks perfect at 36 mega-pixels with a 500ws strobe blasting them in the face.

The main reason why I don’t show unedited images however is because it makes no sense. The people that like my images like them because of the way they look at the end, post processing and all. The same can be said of so many photographers that we all love. Most everyone processes the heck out of their images these days and standing out in this crowded field involves perfecting both your in camera and in computer techniques.