Erika Ray Photography » blog

It’s the Chicken or the Egg Argument for Photographers.

No, I’m not talking about “Your pictures are good because you have a nice camera…”  That’s a bullshit and insulting argument we’ve all heard, grinned and gritted through a polite response.

I’m talking about the Editing Argument.

You edit a photograph so does it really make you a good photographer?  Or are you just talented at Photoshop or Lightroom?  Clearly a good photographer wouldn’t need fancy tools, right?  And if you use them, anyone can to create a good photograph!  So are you really a true photographer because you edit?


It came up on New Year’s Eve.  Not in an offensive way, but in a questionable sort of way.  I get it.  I understand why people might believe this half-truth.  I did for a little while.  I didn’t give myself credit and hid behind those tools, but then I realized I choose how to use them.  I made the photo more beautiful by my choices.  I try to edit as lightly as possible because I want the scene to shine.  Plus I don’t want to see my Haze/Retro/Saturated phase in a decade.  I very rarely crop anything more than to straighten.  I also VERY rarely clone out items.  But I still edit.  And I won’t apologize.

What non-photographers don’t realize is that all photographers edit!  Even film photographers.  Yes, even those fancy purists.  Some photographers do more editing and some do less, but we all do it.  And I don’t believe it’s a dirty little secret photographers should keep.  It’s the truth and we should share it!  There’s no shame in it as you can’t polish a heaping pile of shit.

I believe editing is the second wave of the brush.  LR tools help me create mood in my photos.  It enhances the beauty my Eye sought out.  The Eye that made my heart go pitter-patter.  It made me stop doing dishes, find my camera, compose, and snap.  But LR helps plump the scene.  Adds more cool tones because the scene was fridged.  Adds more warmth because my bones needed some glow.

Am I not a real photographer because I edit?

Hell no.  I’m a photographer because I need to edit.  The edit means I  get to create.

And I create because I’m an artist.  All photographers are artists.

Maybe the real chicken/egg Photographer argument should be: which came first?  The artist or the photographer?

It’s been a while so here are some Before and After’s.  These are a little heavier for my standards, but every now and then I need to break out of my normal presets, bumps, and tools.  Pushing my editing norms gets me excited to photograph life again.  It makes me aware of the possibilities.

Steam is always a delicious model.  Because these are edited a little heavier than my norm, there’s probably a ton that I’d change by the time I hit “Post”.  But it is what it is.  It’s my edit.




  • James - Taunton Photographer - I think it is important that as photographers we get the image correct in camera in the first instance. Getting it right in the camera is part of seeing or previsualizing the image – something that can take years to grow talent in. With editing you have an endless amount of time with an endless amount of possibilities. You can change a lot of the image with ease and still have a good image.

    From a business point of view – it is not important to get the job done as quickly as possible in order to move onto the next job?January 9, 2014 – 2:18 pmReplyCancel

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