Photo Finishing verse Photo Editing

Semantics?  Perhaps.  A significant mindset?  Certainly.

The processing of photographs after the initial capture has become known as Photo Editing.  What does the word editing suggest to the majority of people?  I feel that it suggests the “fixing” of issues discovered within the image.  The word “edit” itself comes to us from the newspaper and magazine world and is the process in which the publication is looked at in detail and repairs to discovered errors are made. 

When we use the words Photo Editing what are we suggesting to our friends, family, listeners and/or readers?  We are suggesting that we have discovered errors within the photograph that need correcting.  It says that while we did capture the image we may have made some mistakes during that process and now we need to fix them.  We know this by how others speak to us regarding our images.  You hear phrases like, “wow, you must be good at Photoshop” or “did you do something to the color?”.  We need to start changing how we talk about our images and one of the easiest methods is to change the word Edit to Finish.

The phrase Photo Finishing suggests that the processing of images is really the finishing of something that started in camera.  It does not indicate that you are fixing problems but rather making changes in order to produce a final or finished image.  It was this way in the old darkroom but with the advent of the digital age the use of the words Photo Editing became prolific.  Darkroom development was simply an extension of the photographic process.  Without the development process you simply had a blank negative.  I believe the same is true in the digital world as well.  Without the digital darkroom all we have is a flat/blank negative that is simply not complete until it goes through the finishing process.

Disclaimer:  The capturing of an image is only 1/2 of the process.  It is however vital that you start your photo finishing with the best possible product from your camera.  

If you are a photographer start changing the words that you use and perhaps even your mindset.  It will ultimately help lift the perception of photography and the photographic process.