“Anything that excites me for any reason, I will photograph; not searching for the unusual subject matter, but making the commonplace unusual.”

~ Edward Weston

Maybe because I use photoshop and am often reading or view tutorials on editing, I get adds that tout some software that lets you improve your images in one click. But I have my own sure-fire one-click method to improve your image in 4 easy steps:

Step 1: Rethink the original shot. Ask yourself should you even have taken that photo in the first place. If the answer is YES, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Click the shutter button on your camera to take a better friggin’ photo.

Step 3: Don’t worry about Step 3, just take a better friggin’ photo.

Step 4: Revisit Step 3 if you somehow got this far.

Alright, I confess. I can’t stand these 1-click wonder photo improvement guarantees from people trying to sell photo editing software or apps. I am a fan of good photoshop work or even good photo editing tools on your phone. I don’t even care if it takes ONE CLICK to do it. But a crappy shot is a crappy shot. Trash it. Taking a better shot is the only thing that fixes a crappy shot. Take another shot instead of trying to fix a bad image with filters. In the military, we used to call such a notion as polishing a turd. Don’t polish turds. They are still turds and likely polishing them will only make them look worse.

Full-disclosure. I am a photo traditionalist. I come from the old school of film and darkrooms… you know…Pre-IG/FB. I know that photography has not always been accepted as an art form and I definitely care about the Art of Photography and detests anything that diminishes it, cheats the business of it, or otherwise disrespects it. Edward Weston was one of the early pioneers to bring Photography to the forefront of the art debate. With the help of wife/model Charis Wilson, he was first to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship Grant to go out west and photograph… well, the West! He received this award twice, actually in consecutive years.

“Guggenheim Fellowships are intended for individuals who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.”

I would rather proclaim to would-be shooters to get better! Often photographers complain that everybody with a camera is a photographer nowadays. I’ve tried to always take a higher road and encouraged my fellow artists in a more optimistic fashion. When I see them polishing turds though… Well, I am not as positive and optimistic. I’ll call you out in a second. Why diminish your skills? Why cheat the game? Just do better!! I don’t fear photo advances that might, in turn, create lower barriers to entry. I can’t prevent them. They will happen, so we may as well treat them as opportunities to further distinguish ourselves and challenges us to stay atop our game.

I think photographers who shot film, developed in a darkroom, and made actual prints are the ones who are most likely to be irked by this. Those who have only shot digital may not be put off so much. I may sound like the old man in the neighborhood kicking the kids of his grass. I get this. But you know, I wonder how many photographers have actually never printed any of their own work. Digital images dominate FB, IG, and the such. Millions upon millions of images are being created every single day. How many actually get made into physical tangible copies that you can hold in your hand or hang on a wall?

I will try, going forward, not to get agitated when I see these ads or when beginner photogs ask me about such “tricks” and if they work. But for those of you who actually want to improve, I say learn the principles of light! Get understanding on how to utilize the Manual Mode on your camera, (or for goodness sake get one that HAS a manual mode). Study the greats. Play with artificial flash! You may be surprised at what you find out that comes to be considered great. Don’t be fooled. Some of our greatest shots were not tack-sharp or great resolution. And mistakes like light leaks or concepts that ran counter to “rules” in photography are actually what defined Perfection! The irony! Bob Ross called them “Happy Little Accidents”.

And with that, I will come down from my soapbox and leave you to your fun.

Thanks for listening.