At a recent lunch event, I popped round to take photographs for the Optimist Club. While trying to get an editorial shot of the organizers, an enthusiastic attendee was insistently making bunny ears behind the subjects.
Once upon a time that would have been a problem. More takes, subjects getting antsy, tight deadlines missed and already tense tempers fraying. Not a bit of it. I laughed it off. “Sit down and enjoy your meal, Bill! I’ll take those out in Photoshop”. He did, and I did. ‘Twas the work of less than a minute.
It was only when I was in the car driving home that I realized, I hadn’t even given it a thought. I had shot with the knowledge that I could easily fix it later. So it didn’t phase or annoy me in the slightest. Not one jot. This unexpected realization made me beam like a lottery winner, which seemed in turn to scare the lady crossing in front of me at the lights, I think. Anyway, I digress.
The point is that this little intervention by a non-participant (AKA Photobombing) would have been a serious issue on a serious product or model photoshoot, where the need for editing is minimized by lighting and tight set control, and where on-screen shenanigans are not only frowned upon but sometimes actively discouraged with a bat. Not here. Didn’t even ruffle a hair. Just kept going. This is the way it should be, at any event. The days of formal posing are almost gone. Apart from, say, obligatory bridal / groom party and family shots. In short, fast and frenetic is the every day way of events now. If you can’t roll with it, you shouldn’t be doing it.
It occurred to me that way back in the day, this kind of flexibility was simply not an option. Particularly when shooting film. There are no do-overs with fixed ISO and limited shots per roll. The introduction of digital, and the advent of editing suites like Photoshop, changed everything. And that, sometimes, is taken for granted. But it shouldn’t be. It is quite an amazing thing, a fun and essential skill that is (or should be) in the repertoire of every commercial photographer. Knowing you can take out bunny ears and nose pickers? Useful. Being able to eliminate blinks in group shots? Timesaving. Being able to just ignore photobombers and keep shooting?
I’ve been doing photobomber removal since 2002. The image below shows an early example. A little more difficult than removing bunny ears but the principle is the same.
Even the most recent AI can’t replace good old fashioned Photoshop skills sometimes. Phone apps can do amazing things, allowing anyone to get amazing results. But they can’t do everything. Yet. For some things, you’re always going to need a human. I like that. And I don’t think that is something that should be taken for granted.
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Prints available for all images by request.