Post work or no post work?

A shoot from a shoot yesterday will help illustrate a point I am ambivalent about: whether to do post work that materially changes an image, or not.

The original shot is rough: lit with two speedlights, on one camera and one off camera:

So we do some minor skin adjustments (including a minor “clarity” decrease) and a somewhat major crop:

That crop is essential: simplify, simplify, simplify!

That is all the post work I normally do. It does not materially change the image. My rule of thumb: could I have done this with light? If so, no problem doing it in post.


But in this rare case I want a very different look – so now I do a post action in Lightroom to make it look the way I want. Rare for me, but here it is:

Kim Gorenko (Photo: Michael Willems)

What do you think? Allowed in this rare case? Of course by definition you are allowed to do whatever you like – you are the creative artist – but I would counsel against doing too much.



2 thoughts on “Post work or no post work?

  1. am·biv·a·lent/amˈbivələnt/
    Having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone.

    How is the third image really any different than B&W or sepia?

    • Yup, one feels one must, and one must not. The third image is higher contrast, and color cross processed, so it is indeed different from sepia – brings out the natural wave in the hair, etc. I think it’s great and warrants doing.

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