If I’d have to describe my style of shooting in one term, it would be straight photography. It is what the name implies — just straight photography, leaving out all the Lightroom nonsense and especially manipulating. For me personally straight photography is all about relying on the actual photography skills and in-camera techniques without the emphasis in editing. I like the idea of a perfect negative, which doesn’t require any fingering.
What bugs me about digital photography, it’s almost synonymous with editing in Lightroom and/or Photoshop. If done well, no big deal, but annoyingly often photographers can’t resist the urge to ruin the image with every possible adjustment slider in Lightroom. I’ve been using Photoshop since 1997, ever since I was a teenager, and I’ve edited the hell out of photos during my time. Leaving editing (mostly) out of my photography has really opened the highway of learning for me.
The biggest takeaway has been the obvious realisation, that the photograph actually has to be good in order to make a nice image. In my previous life I wasn’t able to accept a bad photo and I often tried to save it by banging it in Photoshop. No amount of editing can’t turn a bad photo into a good one. The basic building blocks of the image has to work before the benefits of editing can be achieved. But then again, if the photograph is good straight from the camera, is there any reason to edit it? Usually a good photo can stand of it’s own and very little editing is required. If any at all.
After accepting that Photoshop skills cannot save bad photography skills, it left me with only one option — learning how to photograph. And boy has it been rewarding! I suppose it’s possible to learn just as well with digital, but at least for me, doing straight photography on film, has been the ultimate combination in learning. I can’t say I wont return to digital some day, but at least, I’ve learned some valuable core skills during this time, that I can easily take into digital work too.
I’ve also come to embrace the fact that gear doesn’t play a big role either. I find it comforting to know that I need basically only one good camera. The amount of gear doesn’t supplement the lack of skill either, it seems.
There’s nothing quite like being able capture candid moments by using simple gear and available light. In the center of straight photography, is the actual skill — not gear or going mental in Photoshop.