Like many photographers, I am sometimes asked to deliver RAW images, "straight from camera", with no photoshopping or retouch. My answer to this request is always a respectful "absolutely not."
To help clients understand why, I sometimes use a metaphor that I attribute to my dear friend and chef, John MacPherson, and it goes something like this: You have chosen me, out of all the other chefs you might have asked, to bake you a cake. Why would you ask me to just hand over the eggs, flour, and sugar and leave the rest to you?
This metaphor led to my talk, "The Photographer as Pastry Chef" which I have given a few times, and will expand and take on the road in 2017. The gist of the presentation describes a workflow where I view the shoot itself as a chance to gather my ingredients - the eggs, flour, sugar, etc - to then cook up back in my PhotoShop "kitchen."
(I swear it's not as precious as it sounds here.)
Here's an example. This is from a 2016 shoot for an architect in Fort Collins, CO. I had 10 sites to photograph in three days - a challenging enough schedule even if the weather cooperated perfectly. At this site the weather was NOT cooperating. Here's the "raw" image showing what the house looked like when we arrived:
Even with help in Lightroom and Photoshop, the best I could do for this single frame would look something like this:
Think of this straight shot as the 'flour" - the basic ingredient. If it's all there is, you're not going to have much of a cake. Time to get to work sprinkling some sugar, chocolate, vanilla extract, etc., etc., - you get the idea.
I walk around the scene with a remote-controlled flash, firing the camera each time I trigger the light ) and produce, over multiple frames, this cringe-inducing time-lapse of myself walking around the area, splashing warm spots of light where needed:
Layer the images in Photoshop, mask each layer to bring out only the part that's lit just the way I want, and throw in a little more Photoshop magic (perspective correction, tidying the grass, taking out the house next door, etc.
And this is pretty close to the final version that I would deliver to the client. Cake!
I've loved photography since I was a kid. I've been an assistant, a photographer, an editor, and a manager of a busy corporate photo department. I've been a traveling hired lens since 2003.