Photography & The Craftsmanship Paradox

Summary – Craftsmanship, when it comes to photography (or art in general), is a paradox. It can be viewed as both the most & least important element when it comes to making an extra-ordinary image.

How can photographic craftsmanship be

Both the most & the least important element

When it comes to making an extra-ordinary image?

 Most – without correct exposure, focus, color, etc.

A captured image is normally a failure

Regardless of whatever other merits it may have

This is craftsmanship

Least – there are three other elements

That go into making an image

(any image, not just a photo)

Composition, Creativity and Communication

Collectively they trump craftsmanship

In separating ordinary from extra-ordinary


Images with perfect craftsmanship

Are still ordinary images – usually

Creative & perfectly composed images with a compelling story

Are seldom merely ordinary

In the field of logic one would say

Craftsmanship is necessary – but not sufficient


And what does this have to do with anything?

I’m just trying to remind myself of

Where post-processing fits in the grand scheme of things

For my personal brand of “pure” photography

Post-processing is part of craftsmanship, nothing else

Not so if your idea of creativity runs to “Faux-paintings”

I need to remind myself while looking for

Possible Nik Collection replacements

That whatever I decide – it’s a small piece of the puzzle

Post-processing just “tweaks” craftsmanship

(assuming I did my in-camera part well)

If you’re a good photographer

P-P is just a bit of spit & polish

The real work in making an extra-ordinary “pure” photo

Is over when the camera shutter is released

There are no-short cuts like the old saw

I’ll just fix it in Photoshop

Programs to fix Composition & Creativity

Or to create emotion & tell a story

Don’t exist – and never will

Just something to think about in terms of

Keeping things in perspective

Think about it

Thanks, Juergen, for your recent comment along these lines.


A final note –

Have you ever stopped to think

When images of ANY type are viewed in terms of the “4-C’s”

ONLY the Craftsmanship element is different

There is no difference in the other three elements

Whether it’s a photo, a sketch, a pastel or a painting

Skills in those three are transferable

That’s the reason why I have more books with art images

Than books with photos

You can learn more about making extra-ordinary images by

Studying paintings and the old masters, than

Looking at photos or worse

Reading another post-processing how-to

(or this blog) 😉

And a final, final note –

The path to extra-ordinary images

Isn’t buying better equipment & software

That, at best, just improves your craftsmanship

The other 3-C’s are more important and

Better “stuff” won’t help 😉


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