Would You Outsource Your Post Production Work?

DECEMBER 13, 2013

Over the past year, I've been making an effort (that has been long intended) to improve my general knowledge of the history of photography. I've been researching some of the greats from the last century - Robert Frank, Elliott Erwitt, Henri Cartier Bresson, Garry Winogrand to name a few. One interesting fact I learned early on was that there was a lot of dodging and burning going on back in the days of film...it's not just a Photoshop thing.

Last night while turning the pages of my heavy Henri Cartier Bresson book, I came upon one of his most famous images - Muslim women on the slopes of Hari Parbal Hill in Srinagar, Kashmir, India. I've always thought this image looked a bit "photoshopped." 

Out of curiosity I did a google image search with the keywords: "Henri Cartier Bresson photo dodged" and viola, the first image that appeared was of the muslim women in Srinagar. I clicked on the photo to learn more. It brought me to an article about the "untold story of one of the greatest printers of black-and-white photographs in the history of photography - Voja Mitrovic." written by Peter Turnley (the link to this article is at the bottom of this post). Mitrovic was the printer to the Greats including Henri Cartier Bresson for many years. In the article, Turnley writes that Mitrovic indicated that HCB's image of the Muslim women required "tremendous burning and dodging." My suspicions were correct according to this article.

I don't have a problem with it, it just made me think - I wish I had someone to collaborate with who could "print" (post process) the 5 star images sitting in my Lightroom catalogue. Many photographers these days are also "print" (Photoshop/Lightroom) aficionados. Many who instruct and lead workshops that teach post processing skills right along with the skills of how to take good photos. Was it this way 25 years ago? Was having skills as a printer as necessary as it seems it is today??

Photo taken a few months ago of my son. These young kids these days...whizzes with computers! Fuji X-Pro1 18mm 1/30sec, f2.8, ISO 6400

I love taking photos. I do not love post processing. Sure, my eyes brighten when I see the first few DNG's come to life, but after about a half hour on my Mac, damn, my eyes start to glaze over. I've realized lately, my moments of post processing inspiration fall well behind my moments of photographic exploration. This has become especially true since almost completely switching camera systems from Canon to the Fuji X system. I've been taking WAY more photos than before and putting the post processing on the back burner. All these factors are contributing to a log jam of images sitting in my catalogue gathering digital dust.

I start to wonder, are there modern day "printers" (Photoshop experts) who prefer editing to taking photos? If so, would you outsource your editing to them so it freed up more time to shoot? Printers like Voja Mitrovic contributed immensely to the expression of the vision of the photographers they worked with. Would you be OK allowing someone else to contribute to the expression of your vision? Would the process of collaborating with another artistic mind make processing more enjoyable? Could it possibly make your final images better?...or possibly worse? I would welcome something like this, given I could work with someone who shared my vision. Would you?

Being in India, I could continue my thought process and discuss whether India could be an outsourcing destination for this kind of work, but I will stop for now.

Thanks for reading my random thoughts and please leave some of yours in the comment section. Below are a few images I shot yesterday on my way to the local market for some masala chai...spiced tea. The small 11 cent plastic cup of brew KILLS Starbucks $3.00 cup of chai.

To keep the tradition alive, there was a bit of dodging and burning in a couple of these! CLICK HERE TO READ THE FASCINATING ARTICLE ABOUT VOJA MITROVIC.

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