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Are there any ‘high-class photographers’ that can produce good results for every single shot, so that the shots don’t require post processing?

If not, then is it possible to become a top photographer without knowing how to edit?

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By the edited version of this, the answer is "yes, by tautology" — which leaves one wondering what the actual question is. It seems to be an argument looking for agreement (or to pick a fight with those who might disagree). See the section in the FAQ titled "What kind of questions should I not ask here?" photo.stackexchange.com/faq –  mattdm Apr 14 '11 at 20:37
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Whether it was the OPs intent or not, the question reads as argumentative enough that I think it's simply going to be a magnet for downvotes. In addition, I think the question doesn't really add a lot to the body of knowledge, because it's just not all that useful of a question. With that in mind, I've voted to close the question... –  Jay Lance Photography Apr 14 '11 at 22:40
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Just to put this into some kind of perspective, Ansel Adams (who was among the most fastidious ever at doing things right at the time of capture -- if we extend "time of capture" to include both the moment of exposure and specific development for dynamic range) likened his negatives to a mere "score"; for him, the "performance" was the print, which almost always involved extensive dodging and burning to achieve his vision. And Yousuf Karsh spent a good deal of time spotting every portrait he ever made. Just sayin'. –  user2719 Apr 14 '11 at 23:17
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I'd personally love to meet the photographer that can produce good results for every single shot. I don't think such a person actually exists, however. –  John Cavan Apr 15 '11 at 0:13
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I think @mattdm is right about the banality of the question and that it "seems to be … looking for agreement". But I think the question reflects the non-photographer viewpoint rather well; especially the current trend to strive for everything organic (nothing wrong with that). In addition, @Jerry Coffin's answer shows the whole question in better light. I think photographer and editor are distinct terms, though not mutually exclusive: one person can be both — when editing heshe is the editor, when photographing heshe is the photographer. –  koiyu Apr 15 '11 at 10:03

2 Answers 2

up vote 16 down vote accepted

It is at least partly true of some of the busiest photographers. It has nothing to do with the photographs not being edited, and simply means the photographer isn't the one doing the editing. Just for example, during the Olympics, the guys doing shooting just shoot. They have at least a couple of cameras, and an assistant who's responsible (among other things) for ensuring that that they always have a camera with memory space available.

When one's full, they trade cameras with the assistant. The assistant usually won't handle the editing either -- his job is primarily swapping cards and (if necessary) lenses. The cards he just gets (via whatever means) to other people who download the pictures, bring the cards back to the assistant, etc. Somebody eventually edits the shots, but there are probably going to be three or four layers of other people in between the photographer and the person who does the editing (and, just to keep things interesting, a fair number of those people probably have something like "editor" in their job title).

That, of course, is a fairly extreme case, but the same general idea remains in a lot of other cases as well. The photographer handles shooting, and leaves the editing to people who specialize in editing.

If what you intended to imply was shots so good they didn't need editing at all, then it's mostly nonsense. To even stand a chance of being true at all, you have to start by defining "editing" pretty narrowly. Just converting a raw file to a "picture" at all requires a fair amount of "editing". Except for the very most simplistic conversion (that nobody would willingly use) there are quite a few "editing" types of input into the process of converting a raw file into a picture (e.g., sharpening, adjusting brightness, contrast, white balance, etc.) In this case, there is no really "unedited" version of things -- at most, there's the "default" version, which basically just means leaving the "editing" to the people who wrote the software (and since they obviously can't see the picture in question, their decision(s) are rarely optimal for any given photograph).

If you mean there are no localized edits, and all that's done is "global" editing (the aforementioned adjustments to overall brightness, contrast, WB, etc.) then it starts to have at least some possibility of being true at least part of the time -- but only if you make it a tautology, by defining "high class photographers" as photographers who don't do any of that sort of editing. Otherwise, it's still pretty much nonsense.

Edit: in response to edited question: By you added definition of "high class photographers", I'd say there simply is no such thing. I've known a fair number of excellent professional photographers. I doubt that any of them would consider publishing or displaying even 10% of the pictures they took. For most, the number is probably closer to 1%. Part of that is from experimenting and such, taking pictures they don't expect to be worth much. Part, however, is simply having high enough standards that even slight imperfections are enough that a picture won't be used (at least as-is). The reality, however, is that if even half your pictures come out "good", you either have very low standards, or you're not challenging yourself much (if at all).

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+1 Thanks @Jerry. Good answers. –  LaTeX Apr 14 '11 at 18:18

No, that is incorrect.

However, some photographers do avoid digital post-processing, and some still shoot film.

To say that all "high class" photographers would avoid editing software is far to general of a statement though.

Edit:

A "high-class photographer", by your definition, one who can produce good results for every single shot would not use editing software. So, yes given that definition, that statement is correct.

The problem I then see is that there are no "high-class photographers" because no person will get every shot perfectly exposed every time, with the exact color balance, sharpness, and contrast that they intended. No one is perfect, and that definition is basically requiring perfection.

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Shooting film still requres post processing, and some film photographers perform more PP than their digital counterparts! –  Matt Grum Apr 14 '11 at 17:38
    
ahh, sorry, I meant digital post processing. –  chills42 Apr 14 '11 at 17:40
    
+1 Thanks. It is a good answer too. –  LaTeX Apr 14 '11 at 18:18

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