Your Photo Is About the End Result, Not the Path Towards It

Your Photo Is About the End Result, Not the Path Towards It

When we do a search on the internet, we will find an enormous amount of tutorials and videos about photography. It is about settings, equipment, lenses, post-processing, and much more. These videos can be very helpful to achieve an end result. And that’s what matters.

A lot of photographers love to teach their way of photographing. And yes, I’m one of those photographers. Just like everyone else, I explain the way I use my equipment and how to post-process my footage. What I tell is my personal way of working, my own method. How I do things might be completely different compared to another photographer. In fact, everyone who is posting tutorials on the internet has his or her unique way of working. 

All these different explanations might become confusing at times. This means you will probably use the method of the photographer whose work you admire. 

Screenshot from my Luminar tutorials for the Dutch website Photofacts Academy. I can only show the way I like to work, but perhaps there are also other methods to get the same result.

I can only show the way I like to work, but perhaps there are also other methods to get the same result.

Has it ever occurred to you that it doesn’t matter how you use your equipment, your photography technique, or even the post-processing? It is the end result that matters. Perhaps your method or the one you have learned is not the easiest or most efficient way. As long as you end up with the image you like, that is what counts.

Example 1: The Use of Camera and Lenses

There is a lot to say about equipment. On every photography website, you can find reviews and advice on how to use cameras and lenses. If you are looking for a good camera or lens, it can be very difficult to find the best one for the job.

These are the ways I was holding this camera during a review. Perhaps someone else will hold a camera completely different. It does not necessarily mean one way is wrong. It is just another method.

These are the ways I was holding this camera during a review. Perhaps someone else will hold a camera completely differently. It does not necessarily mean one way is wrong. It is just another method. (Photo credit: www.hetwie.nl)

Most of the times it doesn’t matter that much which camera you use. If your camera gets the job done, then it is a good one. Perhaps a certain camera has options that can make your life much easier, but don’t lose yourself in the never ending discussions about features and possibilities. Just go out and do the job. The moment you run into problems, which stand in the way of a good result, it is time for an upgrade.

Example 2: The Use of Camera Settings

Modern cameras have a lot of different available settings that can make the use of the camera much easier. But besides the sometimes exotic functions and possibilities, you need to have a correct exposure. It doesn’t make any difference if you use a manual or an automatic exposure setting. If your photo is exposed correctly and it has the depth of field you want, it is okay.

Perhaps there is also another way to get the correctly exposed photo. But even if you force yourself into using a method as explained by some tutorial or video, the photo won't get any better. 

Which exposure method do you prefer?

Which exposure method do you prefer?

This also applies to the use of autofocus settings. There is not one single perfect setting, but there are many different available that will work in your situation. Which one you should use depends on the tutorial you read or watched and your personal preferences. The only thing that matters is a sharp image. How you achieved this is of less importance.

Just make sure your preferred setting is working for you and enables you to achieve the wanted results. If you run into difficulties, your method may need to be fine-tuned. 

Example 3: The Use of Filters

Some love filters, others don’t. I’m one of the landscape photographers that loves the use of filters. But it doesn’t necessarily mean filters will produce a better result. They are just a way of working, the method I prefer. Filters are never the only way of achieving the image I like, nor are they the perfect method. They are just one of the many ways to achieve the result you like.

Just think of it this way. The people who will look at the photo won’t care how the image is made. They just see a great photo. Only other photographers may want to know how it was done. Perhaps you have used exposure bracketing or you used the dynamic range capabilities of your camera. Or you have used filters to get the image you wanted. Either of these methods is a good method if the end result is to your liking, even if it is not the most efficient way.

Do you need to use filters, or do you prefer not to no filters at all?

Do you need to use filter or do you prefer no filters at all?

Example 4: The Use of Post-Processing Software

There are a lot of different ways to post-process your image. You can use the software provided by the manufacturer or one of the popular programs like Lightroom, Capture One, or Luminar. But no matter which program you use or how the program works, just make sure you get a good end result. How it is done or what software is used is of lesser importance.

There are many ways to post-process an image. Here I make use of the dynamic range of this raw file, but perhaps a series of exposures would have worked also. Which one would you use? It doesn't matter if the end result is good.

There are many ways to post-process an image. Here, I make use of the dynamic range of this raw file, but perhaps a series of exposures would have worked also. Which one would you use? It doesn't matter if the end result is good.

Perhaps you use a method that takes you hours of work, while another method will do the same thing in just a couple of minutes. Just like I mentioned in the previous section, the client is just looking at the end result. It doesn't matter how that result is achieved.

Should You Forget About All Those Tutorials and Videos?

You might wonder if you shouldn’t waste your time on those tutorials and videos. If the path to the end result is of no importance, why should you listen to all that advice?

I'm convinced it is very wise to see how others work and how they achieve those results you like so much. Although the client will only care about the end result, other methods may show you an easier way or a quicker way, or perhaps they will show you a method that will increase the overall quality of your work.

Shooting fast action. Your AF and exposure settings can differ from the ones I would use in such a shoot. If both give a good result, it doesn't matter what method you used.

Shooting fast action, your AF and exposure settings can differ from the ones I would use in such a shoot. If both give a good result, it doesn't matter what method you used.

That is why you should continue to read tutorials and watch videos. You might already know how to get the result, but you will still learn a thing or two. And for those who are so willing to share their way of photographing, continue to do so. It is great to help others improve their photography. Just remember, in the end, it is your result that matters, not the path towards it. 

Do you read tutorials and watch videos about your photography? Do you feel you are still learning and evolving your photography? Are you sure your method is the best one available? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. 

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39 Comments

Nando Harmsen's picture

I think you misunderstood. It doesn't matter what path you take. Your path is the perfect one if your result is to your liking.
:)
I don't know who Zen is, but I am sure he has nothing to do with it.
;)

Nando Harmsen's picture

Ah yes. I understand your point. Thanks/
I remember that book, the Dutch version that is. :)

Chaz Foote's picture

Hogen, a Chinese Zen teacher, lived alone in a small temple in the country. One day four traveling monks appeared and asked if they might make a fire in his yard to warm themselves.

While they were building the fire, Hogen heard them arguing about subjectivity and objectivity. He joined them and said: "There is a big stone. Do you consider it to be inside or outside your mind?"

One of the monks replied: "From the Buddhist viewpoint everything is an objectification of mind, so I would say that the stone is inside my mind."

"Your head must feel very heavy," observed Hogen, "if you are carrying around a stone like that in your mind."

Nando Harmsen's picture

That reminds me of another story

Once upon a time in China head priest of the White Lotus Clan, Pai Mei, was walking down a road contemplating whatever it is that a man of Pai Mei's infinite powers would contemplate - which is another way of saying, "Who knows?"

When a Shaolin monk appeared on the road, traveling in the opposite direction. As the monk and the priest crossed paths Pai Mei ,in a practically unfathomable display of generosity, gave the monk the slightest of nods.

The nod was not returned.

Now, was it the intention of the Shaolin monk to insult Pai Mei? Or did he just fail to see the generous social gesture? The motives of the monk remain unknown. What is known were the consequences.

The next morning, Pai Mei appeared at the Shaolin temple and demanded of the temple's head abbot that he offer Pai Mei his neck to repay the insult. The abbot, at first, tried to console Pai Mei. Only to find Pai Mei was... inconsolable.

So began the Massacre of the Shaolin Temple, and all sixty of the monks inside, at the fists of the White Lotus.

:)

Nando Harmsen's picture

I understand you don't recognize it. I wonder if it is a real story, or just made up by the imagination of Mr. Tarantino himself...
;)

Nando Harmsen's picture

Indeed... I didn't expect this
hahaha

GI PAMPERIEN's picture

Actually the dharma is more likely to teach that there is no destination, only the path

Hunter Chan's picture

You do have a point, when some people are adding fantastical stuff into their photos in the light of technology as though they were sticking stickers...while some stay up on the scene with coffee until 2am just to get migrating birds passing through...But I also think you really did misunderstand the author. He's not that radical at all.

Melanie Wade's picture

Great article and I completely agree! I’ve only just started getting serious about photography this June and started obsessing over videos and articles trying to find that magical combo and the perfect gear. What I’ve realized the last few weeks is my path is right for me, and I’m now spending more time shooting and learning how to edit them to get the look I want than watching and reading lol! Thanks for sharing, I haven’t posted yet but this really spoke to me.

Melanie

Ps: I wish my husband read books, if he did I’d get him a copy and hope the swearing slowed down when he’s working on his bike :)

Nando Harmsen's picture

Thanks for the comment, Melanie :)

Louis van Zyl's picture

It is not about gear technique or the final result. It is about the creative process that use elements of the mentioned resources.

zeissiez lee's picture

It doesn’t matter. Painting is art, photography is hobby. Do it the way that pleases you.

Nando Harmsen's picture

Why isn't photography also an art?

zeissiez lee's picture

It is, for the few who care. Most people just care about cameras and lenses.

Michael L. McCray's picture

Lee, I would consider your work art. Painting starts off as a hobby for many. Photography is not a hobby if you are making money selling it as art.

zeissiez lee's picture

I was being sarcastic and was generalizing the current photography community. Most people focus too much on technicalities. How fast a lens focus, how amazing an eye focus system is, how little noise a sensor produce. Most camera review websites talk just about gear and few talk about art. For few who care, yes, photography is art.

Hunter Chan's picture

I'm definitely not sellin', but I treat it as art...

Lee Christiansen's picture

Well... your photography may not be art - but I can think of lots that is...

zeissiez lee's picture

Thanks for the constructive criticism, I’ll work harder

Hunter Chan's picture

Who decides what art is? Well, it might be a bit more flexible...maybe?

zeissiez lee's picture

Yes, you are right. But you didn’t get my message.

zeissiez lee's picture

Thanks for the advice:-)

Hunter Chan's picture

All visual art are alike to me...in some way...

Paul Jay's picture

U Wot? Photography is art you twit.

Michael L. McCray's picture

It is about your journey and everyone's is different. The camera is my excuse for being there sometimes. Other times it is just the challenge of creating something unique for my own personal satisfaction. I do not get to hung up with the tools, however, having lost thousands in the equipment, the tools are important. Except for some commercial work I try to shoot within the framework of what I own because just do not want to carry a ton of equipment around. Except when I need to accomplish some tasks with software do not spend much time with how someone else does something what fun is that.

Paul Jay's picture

No way. The end result is because of the path that lead to it.

Nando Harmsen's picture

Not necessarily... there are more than one ways to accomplish the same end result.

Tim van der Leeuw's picture

Different ways can lead to equivalent outcomes.
Who's to say that one path is better than the other when outcome is equivalent?

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