Photoshop is a wonderful and a terrible thing. We all know the controversy surrounding it's over-use in magazines and media that distorts our body image and sets unrealistic expectations and blah de blah. Not to diminish that discussion whatsoever, but there is plenty of voice on that topic already buzzing. This post is about an equally offensive yet less publicized evil. I call it, "under-shopping." As of this moment I'm calling it that, actually, because I just made it up.

If you've ever wondered what "retouching" really means for a professional photographer, here's a quick list of what it definitely is NOT

1 Quick

Some fixes are relatively painless, but big changes require a big time requirement to make it look seamless. Next time you want a head switched or a building removed, recognize the fact that this is computer software and human skill you're dealing with, not God.

2 Easy

Learning the ins and outs of good post-processing work requires a lot of learning. Photoshop is extremely complex. Its taken me over a year of reading books, watching tutorials, and practice practice practice to even make a dent in it.

3 Opening up a program that came with your computer and changing the sliders

Starter apps that come on your computer are great for basic fixes and for your personal photos that need a litte tune-up. Professionals use professional equipment (which includes editing software) because it allows for professional functions that when used the right way enhance professionally taken photos.

4 Applying an instagram filter

I love me some instagram and its filters. For my phone. For random social media posts. Not for my professional client sessions who expect quality, customized images that will hang on the walls of homes in large scale, flipped through in albums by coming generations, and cherished forever. Those kinds of pictures deserve more.

5 Always possible

It's true. Not everything can be fixed in photoshop. I know, take a moment to breathe. Some things in life aren't fair.

A brief story on this one: one of my mentors in a Hawaii told me that a client once asked her to give her a french manicure in every picture from their session. For the record, yes it's possible. Still, I don't think anyone could pay me enough money to spend the time it would take to do that. Unfortunately, my mentor was just starting her business and didn't realize the commitment before she agreed to the task. Those are hours (days!?) she will never get back. Did you know that photographers have personal lives, too? Shocker.

I try to find the balance of utilizing photoshop's powerful tools without over-doing it. When I first started using it, I was a chronic over-shopper (made that word up, too). I think that's pretty common for photographers when they first start learning the software because it's so complex and there are so many capabilities you want to use them all. Over time, I've learned to reign it in and am able to make things like this happen :

At this shoot, we wanted to let the kids pet the calf and have that experience of getting up close, but of course, safety is always first! The calf was calm when being fed with the bottle so we staged this little set-up and I relied on post processing the help create the final image. Ta-da! Mission accomplished!

As your life is bombarded with images this week, look out for evidence of over-shoppers and under-shoppers! I'd love for you to share what you find. It can be kind-of comical sometimes :-)