I don’t often go out on a limb and express my opinion about photography, but I found myself drawn into an interesting conversation on Facebook a few days ago.
A member of a Facebook photography group I sometimes hang out in, asked the group members for some recommendations for a “good editing programme for beginners“.
The replies started to come thick and fast, with most contributors recommending Lightroom and Photoshop or a combination of both. Their reasons included “it’s the best”, “industry standard”, “LR has a catalogue”, and so on. All valid points.
I had been in direct contact with the group member who asked the initial question so I knew that she was truly a beginner who didn’t even know what a RAW file is. I only learnt the other day that raw is not an acronym, but is always capitalised for emphasis.
Anyway one or two group commenters, myself included, focussed (pardon the pun) on the word “beginner” and suggested that there are less complex, easier to learn and less expensive options than the big two from Adobe. Products like Adobe Photoshop Elements, MacPun’s Luminar and Serif’s Affinity Photo, plus a few free packages were suggested as being suitable.
Now while I am not knocking Lightroom or Photoshop – indeed I use Lightroom 6 myself, but have never used any version of Photoshop – I posted to the group something along the lines of “great products – but given their complexity and price are they really beginners packages? Just putting that thought out there…” .
The best gear in the world
One of the responses to that comment was – “Lightroom is not that complicated..”. And that’s true for someone who is not a beginner – but still potentially quite daunting photo editing software for beginners.
But that comment stirred me up a little when the person went on to say something that made me leave the thread of posts before I found myself deep in the mire by saying something I might regret.
He said “even with the best gear in the world, my photos would be a fraction of what they are without LR“.
To me that raises a couple of questions:
- Is photography about having the best gear in the world and creating mediocre images then relying on one’s ability to master complex photography editing software to make a mediocre photograph look good?
- Or is photography about creating or making a great image then using the software to enhance or improve the photograph?
I may not be the best photographer in the world but I know which camp I am in.
The best cameras and lenses – the best gear in the world – will most likely never make a bad or mediocre photographer better. It is not the best gear in the world that makes or creates the photograph – it is the photographer!
In my view the most comprehensive, feature filled and expensive photo editing software will also most likely not turn lousy photographs into great ones.
The basics need to be close to being right, right from the start.
I like to think that most of the time I do get the basics right – but there are time when I admit I do have to say “thank goodness for Lightroom…”
Just putting it out there as they say.