The Myth Of The 'Photographic Purist' -
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The Myth Of The ‘Photographic Purist’

If you’ve got a passion for photographic imagery you’ll very quickly find yourself looking over articles and commentary about the ‘Purist’ photographer vs ‘those that cheat’! Most of those espousing this view seem to come from one of two separate camps that I’ve noticed – the absolute novice (who usually don’t actually know how to use post-production tools properly) or the photographer who doesn’t really want to keep pace with the times.

Purist photography or ‘Straight out of the Camera’ shots are complete nonsense.

Let’s tackle the whole jpeg vs RAW.


Those who prefer to take images in jpeg form (a compressed and finalised image SOOC) and then don’t do any further processing on the image believe that they are ‘purists’. The reality is that by the time that ‘final’ jpeg image is saved on your camera it has already been ‘processed’ internally.

What do I mean by this? Let’s put it in simple terms. You come across a beautiful setting (or created one) and begin to dial in your camera settings. The WB, colour saturation, sharpness and focal points are all based on the settings that you have dialed in. The camera then captures the image that it sees and ‘manipulates’ and adjusts the image based on the settings that you have dialed in, compresses it and saves it.


For those who aren’t aware, a RAW image is uncompressed and un-edited. The camera captures all the raw information in the file and it is then up to the user to manipulate the image to their liking. Kind of like a negative from the film days.

In both cases mentioned above, there is always some processing that happens to the image.

So I guess we need to go back to film and processing negatives to be a purist…

Uhm, think again. The world’s best photographers and the images that they’ve produced over the years have always had some manipulation to them – even in the good old days of the darkroom. Dodging and burning on an image has been there forever!

Photography is art – plain and simple. It is the attempt by the photographer to showcase their vision of what they see with the world. It’s a deeply personal thing just like any other true art form. There’s no right or wrong (unless the client has asked for a purple peanut and you’ve given them an orange Ferrari).

I’m not a purist, that’s for sure and I don’t personally believe myself to be above any of my peers. This article was written because I’m just slightly disappointed in my peers. We all started this journey full of wonder and hope – unlimited potential and creativity but for some reason, most will discourage others and try to tear them down with their nonsensical views on what photography is or what they believe it should be.

Personally I live by the motto, if you like it – awesome. If you don’t – move on. No need to criticize or force my own opinion of the image on someone else or as momma would say – If you don’t have something nice to say then don’t say anything!

Source by Frank Perez

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