I just became aware that Fujifilm Middle East is currently conducting a photography contest just for straight-out-of-camera pictures! Use either the factory-default film sims or Film Simulation Recipes. No editing allowed, only camera-made JPEGs.
Third prize is a $500 coupon for Fujifilm gear, second prize is a $1,000 coupon, and first prize is a $2,000 coupon… enough for a Fujifilm X-T5 or X-H2! If you reside in one of those 11 qualifying countries, definitely consider entering this competition.
One of the judges is Fujifilm X-Photographer Bjorn Moerman. If you’ve ever watched any of the SOOC Live YouTube videos, you’ll instantly recognize him, as he regularly tunes-in and participates in the show. You’ve likely seen several of his phenomenal pictures; a few are found in the latest Viewers’ Images slideshow published just today! Many of his amazing photographs are straight-out-of-camera using Fuji X Weekly Film Simulation Recipes (including all of those seen in the SOOC Live videos). Sometimes in photography competitions you have to wonder about who the judges are and if they’re actually qualified for that role, but not in this case, especially since Bjorn is one of them.
I love the idea of this competition, and I hope that it catches on. Shooting straight-out-of-camera JPEGs is becoming a more and more popular approach, and Fujifilm photographers are on the leading edge of it. Fujifilm North America should definitely do a SOOC photo contest, too—I think it would be a huge hit, while also spreading the word that Fujifilm cameras are capable of capturing incredible pictures that don’t require editing. For many people, that realization is a game-changer, making photography more enjoyable, more efficient, and more accessible.
I’m not a wedding photographer. I’ve photographed a couple of weddings in the past—many years ago—and I have no desire to jump into that genre. Good wedding photographers are sometimes the first there and last to leave. It’s not uncommon to work 12, 14, or even 16 hours on the big day. Then there are thousands of exposures to cull through, and then edit. That might be an additional 24, 28, or even 32 hours of work! That’s not my cup of tea. For others, though, this is their thing, and they love what they do. Their passion is capturing incredible memories of other people’s weddings.
The shift to a faster turnaround must be frustrating for many in the industry, but it’s actually an opportunity. The article states that some wedding photographers are trying to get some social media type content into the hands of their customers within 48 hours. But why that long? Why not much quicker? Why not as the wedding is happening? If you can do that, you have a huge leg-up on your competition.
I cohost a live YouTube series with official Fujifilm X-Photographer Nathalie Boucry. She does a lot of business photography. Recently she was hired to photograph a corporate event, but they wanted to have the pictures available to share on their social media platforms immediately, in real-time as the event was happening. How did she do this? First, she used Fujifilm gear combined with my Film Simulation Recipes, and shot JPEGs. The pictures looked good straight-out-of-camera, and no editing was needed. Every so many minutes she downloaded the pictures off the camera and uploaded them onto a cloud drive that the customer had access to. Within 10 or 15 minutes of the pictures being captured, the customer was able to share them across the world. This went so well that a week later she was hired to do it again for a different corporate event. I do believe this is the future of event photography, including wedding photography.
Maybe real-time photo sharing isn’t something you’re ready to offer, but if your pictures look great straight-out-of-camera, and further manipulation isn’t needed (or only lightly needed), you can speed up your turnaround significantly. Instead of providing the client with a small batch of photos within 48 hours for social media sharing while they wait up to six weeks for the rest, you can deliver the whole wedding the next day or maybe two. This is, of course, in theory. I’m not aware of anyone who is actually doing this right now. A few different wedding photographers have told me that they are using my Film Simulation Recipes on their Fujifilm cameras, and delivering some of the pictures either same-day or next-day to the client, while providing the rest of photographs at some point later on. I do think, if you’ve got good settings dialed into your camera, and you’re especially careful to get everything right at the time the pictures are captured, that delivering unedited JPEGs of the wedding to the couple is possible, and nobody will be the wiser that you didn’t actually spend hours post-processing RAW files.
I don’t do wedding or event photography, but there are still plenty of advantages to shooting JPEGs. Despite having way more photographs to cull through and share, I was able to publish my pictures of the Central Coast of California tour much quicker than Ken Rockwell did, because my workflow is much quicker than his. That’s a pretty meaningless example; I don’t have a lot of strict photographic deadlines. Perhaps a better case is this: on December 8th of last year, Nathalie, myself, a group of guests, and those who tuned-in, created a Film Simulation Recipe during the Let’s Get Festive holiday-special SOOC Live broadcast—this is the first and (as far as I’m aware) only time a Fujifilm Recipe has been made live on YouTube. Within minutes of its creation, I (and others) had captured a picture using the new Film Simulation Recipe and shared it with all those watching. The very next day I published the Recipe, which the live audience named Mystery Chrome, on this website (and the Fuji X Weekly App), complete with 24 example pictures. That’s my best quick-turnaround example.
Even though I don’t have the need to publish pictures immediately after they’ve been captured, I do sometimes share a photo quickly through text or social media, which is never a problem because I don’t post-process my images. What’s more meaningful to me is that I don’t spend hours and hours sitting at a computing fiddling with files, which saves me a ton of time, making me more productive, while also freeing up time for other things (such as writing blog posts and spending time with my family). It’s changed my life, no hyperbole. I think it can and will change event photography and even wedding photography. It will just take some pioneer photographers to give it a try, which could be you.
Not post-processing your pictures is called one-step photography, a term coined by Edwin Land and perpetuated by Ansel Adams in his book Polaroid Land Photography. “The effect of one-step processing on both amateur and professional creative photography,” Adams stated, “has been revolutionary.” With film, step-one is capturing the picture in-camera and step-two is developing and printing it in a darkroom; however, Polaroid cameras removed the second step, creating a one-step process, which greatly simplified the photographic workflow. With digital, step-one is capturing the picture in-camera and step-two is post-processing in software like Lightroom; however, Film Simulation Recipes remove the second step, creating a one-step process, which greatly simplifies the photographic workflow. “The process has revolutionized the art and craft of photography,” Adams concluded. It still is, for those who embrace the one-step approach.
Photography is moving in a clear direction, and it is unedited. Let me explain.
There’s a new photography trend on the iPhone. Instead of using the front-facing camera to take selfies, people are taking screen shots of the preview from the selfie camera. Why? What’s the difference? The pipeline for the image preview and the actual photographs are different on the iPhone. Most notably, Apple applies an HDR processing to the exposure (but not the preview), which creates a less-contrasty picture. If you are going to apply a filter to the photo and edit it, having a flatter starting point makes sense; however, if you are not editing, one might prefer the more-contrasty image preview. Aside from that, it can be frustrating that the preview doesn’t match the photograph.
My RitchieCam iPhone camera app uses the same pipeline for both the image processing and the preview, so it doesn’t have this issue. The preview you see will be the picture you get. No need to screenshot, which produces a much-lower resolution image. Those using my camera app (instead of the native iPhone app) won’t need to go through the hassle of the screen shot (plus cropping out the non-image part); instead, they’ll have better quality pictures with an analog-inspired aesthetic to post to social media.
Of course, we’re not talking about photographers here, but snap-shooters, as I doubt that anyone who would self-identify as a photographer is taking screenshots instead of using the camera. It shouldn’t be surprising that they’re uninterested in picture manipulation, and just want good results without fuss. Maybe they don’t know how to edit pictures, and the idea of doing so is very intimidating, so they have no interest in learning. It could be that they don’t want to spend their time with picture editing, and just want to share (either through text or social media) their snaps quickly—the easier the better, but the pictures still need to look decent. Others don’t edit because doing so seems less authentic; Photoshop is a bad word, and picture-manipulation equals people-manipulation. Let’s not forget that the vast majority of photos captured across the world are by amateurs, so their opinions, preferences, and trends do matter.
For the advanced-hobbyist or professional, surely photo manipulation is a requirement, right? There’s a growing movement towards reduced (or even eliminated) photo editing. First, the less time spent sitting at a computer equals more production and/or more time with friends and family. For a lot of people, for every hour out with a camera photographing means two hours in Lightroom or Capture One fiddling with the RAW files; if those two hours can be reduced by 50% or more (especially more), that’s a huge win! Second, shooting camera-made JPEGs affords the advantage of knowing exactly what you’re going to get before even pressing the shutter. Don’t like what you see? Simply make a few quick adjustments until you do, then take the picture. Not having to pre-visualize in your mind the finished photo, but seeing it right there in the viewfinder in real time, is a game-changer for many. Third, getting great (often analog-like) results straight-out-of-camera can be a much more fun photographic process, especially if you don’t enjoy sitting for hours at a computer post-processing pictures.
I used to shoot RAW and edit, but thanks to Fujifilm cameras and Film Simulation Recipes, I now use unedited (or sometimes lightly-edited) camera-made JPEGs. I will crop or straighten when needed, which is the majority of my post-processing; occasionally I will adjust the brightness a notch, but very rarely do I manipulate any further than that. Most of my pictures are unedited, even to a strict definition. This has changed my life, no hyperbole! My post workflow takes minutes instead of hours, which has made me a much more productive photographer while simultaneously improving home-life, because I can now spend more time with my wife and kids. That’s amazing!
For example, on a recent trip to the California coast, during the downtimes—such as while at lunch, as a passenger in a car, or at night before bed—I transferred the JPEGs from my cameras to my phone, cropped if needed, and uploaded to cloud storage. A few minutes here and there meant that, by the time I got home, my workflow was essentially already complete. For most photographers, once back home the work would just be getting started, with many hours sitting at a computer.
But, but, but… surely the unedited camera-made JPEGs are not good enough for serious photography, right? You couldn’t do true professional work like this, could you? You can’t print very large and still look stunning, can you? Actually, yes—you can! I know because several successful professional photographers have told me that this is how they now do their paid work. You’d be surprised by just how many are doing some or even all of their pro photo work completely unedited or just lightly edited.
It’s not just photographers who benefit from a simplified workflow, but clients. Because of social media, people often desire to have a quick turnaround on their professional photographs. The newlywed couple doesn’t want to wait two weeks for the wedding pictures to be done, and in fact their parents wished for them that very day! If you can deliver the images quickly, you have a clear advantage over your competition.
In fact, Fujifilm X-Photographer Nathalie Boucry told me about two recent corporate events where the client wanted the photos as the event was happening! Periodically, every so many minutes throughout the day, she would download the straight-out-of-camera images from her camera to her phone, then upload them to a cloud location that the client had access to. As the event was happening, they were able to share the pictures to their social media accounts. Delivering real-time results to the client is going to be the future of event photography. Nathalie was able to do this thanks to the Film Simulation Recipes that she had programmed into her Fujifilm cameras.
Whether it is professional, hobby, or snap-shooting, photography is slowly and stubbornly moving towards less editing. It is easier and quicker and more fun, the disadvantages of it are disappearing, and the stigmatization is dissipating. More and more, people want great results without fuss. Editing is no longer a requirement, especially if you have gear that will deliver solid out-of-camera pictures, such as Fujifilm cameras or the RitchieCam app.
The next battle will be AI. Technology allows one to simulate a photograph with a string of words, or add to an image what wasn’t there—all with a similar ease to shooting camera-made JPEGs. It will come down to authenticity. I believe that as tech pushes us towards an augmented or even fully artificial reality, society will push back with an equal and opposite force towards the genuine. People will generally prefer authenticity over artificial, but it will be a divide. Camera makers should carefully consider how to move forward through all of this, and how they can improve their straight-out-of-camera experience. Fujifilm has a clear advantage, which materialized in the recent explosion in demand for the X100V. A simplified workflow with less editing or even no editing is the future of photography, and the future is now.
“I’ve been working on my photos from October rather than reviews….”
—Ken Rockwell, February 2, 2023
I just stumbled upon that quote from Ken, which was followed by an iPhone photo from October (that’s why this article begins with an iPhone picture). I bet a lot of you can relate to his statement. When you photograph a lot, your post-processing workflow can get backed up quite a bit. I have thousands of unprocessed RAW files that have been sitting on a now-obsolete computer’s hard drive for at least seven years now. I get it: you’ve got stuff to do, and your limited time is being pulled every which way, so something’s got to give.
I discovered that there’s a better way. There’s no need to get four or five months behind. There’s no need to let your photographic work back up so much. You can can accomplish so much more with the time that you’ll save. What is this better way? It’s really simple: shoot JPEGs, and skip the picture editing step (called One Step Photography, as explained by Ansel Adams in his book Polaroid Land Camera). More and more photographers are embracing this approach.
The reason why it’s important to shoot with Recipes is because the settings have been fine-tuned to produce a particular aesthetic that doesn’t require editing. The images look good straight from the camera, as if they had been post-processed or perhaps were even shot on film. Except they weren’t, which saves you a ton of time, money, and hassle. If you aren’t shooting with Recipes, you are most certainly doing some amount of post-processing, whether you shoot RAW or JPEG. There are some people who do still edit their camera-made-using-Recipes JPEGs, but they’re doing much less editing than they otherwise would be. The point of using Film Simulation Recipes is to edit less or (preferably) not at all, which has a huge upside, but it does require Recipes that produce excellent results, and a little extra care by the photographer in the field, since “I’ll fix it in post” isn’t really an option.
If Ken had used a Fujifilm camera programmed with Fuji X Weekly Recipes, surely he would not be busy right now post-processing pictures captured way back in October. Instead, he’d be writing those reviews that have been delayed, or out on some other photographic adventure. The October exposures would have been completed in October, or maybe early November at the latest. If he had used RitchieCam, there would be no need to process his iPhone images with Skylum software, because they would have been ready-to-publish the moment they were captured. Ken, you should try my iPhone camera app. And you should shoot with Fujifilm cameras more often.
With the Canikony brands, shooting awesome straight-out-of-camera (SOOC) JPEGs isn’t as easy or prevalent. Sure, it can be done, but it is much more often done with other brands because of things like the Fuji X Weekly App, which contains approaching 300 Film Simulation Recipes for Fujifilm cameras, so no matter your desired aesthetic, there’s a Recipe for you. Download the Fuji X Weekly App for free today (Android here, Apple here), and consider becoming a Patron subscriber to unlock the best App experience. Ken is sitting at a computer right now fiddling with files, since he didn’t shoot with Fujifilm cameras programmed with Film Simulation Recipes.
People seem to either love or hate Ken Rockwell. To be clear, this article is not bashing him. I’ve actually had correspondence with Ken, and he seems like a very nice guy. I think his “real” personality is much more kind and genuine than his online persona, which can sometimes come across as abrasive and perhaps even offensive. If you hate him, I would suggest that you reach out to him with an open mind and heart, and try to get to know him a little, because your mind might get changed, even if just a bit. Personally, I have found some of his articles, insights, and commentary to be quite helpful; however, I certainly don’t agree with everything that he says, and I take his words with a grain of salt (as you should with mine). He’s very successful at what he does, so he’s obviously doing something “right” even if I don’t fully agree with what it is.
All of that is to say, if you don’t want your workflow backed up for months because you have so many exposures to edit, and you’d rather spend your time doing something else—including capturing more photographs—then SOOC JPEGs might just be the thing for you. If you don’t own a Fujifilm camera, consider picking one up. Download the Fuji X Weekly App. Select a few Film Simulation Recipes to try. Let your RAW editor subscription expire.
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
“The effect of one-step processing on both amateur and professional creative photography has been revolutionary.”
—Ansel Adams, Polaroid Land Camera
I woke up this morning unsure what to write about. It just so happened that I had a handful of exposures I captured yesterday evening still sitting on the SD Card in my Fujifilm X-T5. Using Fujifilm’s Cam Remote App, I transferred the pictures from the camera to my iPhone, cropped and straightened a few of them, and uploaded the images to cloud storage. It took maybe 10 minutes tops start-to-finish, and I don’t even think it was that long. One-step photography, which removes the second-step (the editing step), is truly revolutionary, just as Ansel Adams stated. Of course he was talking about instant film—something he was a big fan of—and we’re talking about straight-out-of-camera JPEGs, something that I’m a big fan of. Now I know what to write about today!
Why is shooting straight-out-of-camera (SOOC) JPEGs revolutionary?
First, it allows for a faster, more streamlined workflow. When you use Fujifilm cameras and Film Simulation Recipes, the camera does all the post-processing work for you. You don’t have to spend hours and hours sitting in front of a computer fiddling with images. This can save you an extensive amount of time and effort, which can significantly increase your productivity, plus make photography more enjoyable. It’s not only a faster workflow, but an easier workflow. Achieving a desired aesthetic is as simple as programming the correct recipe into your camera.
Next, SOOC JPEGs allow you to be more consistent. Because the camera is applying the recipes, the photographer doesn’t have to worry about inconsistencies in their editing process. This makes achieving cohesive results for a photo series or project much easier.
Also, JPEGs are more efficient than RAW in terms of storage space. You don’t need to buy a larger SD Card or external hard drive or pay for more cloud storage nearly as quickly. Upload and download times are faster. You have a ready-to-share photo the moment that it’s captured—you don’t have to wait for a program to process it first.
Finally, SOOC JPEGs might be considered more authentic. Film Simulation Recipes often replicate the look and feel of classic film stocks and processes, and seem less digital-like in their rendering. There is a growing sentiment among photography consumers (not photographers, but those who view pictures) that “Photoshop” is bad, and picture manipulation equals people manipulation; however, unedited images don’t carry that stigma, and can come across as more authentic.
All of this and more are why there is a revolution in photography right now. More and more photographers—from first-camera beginners to experienced pros with recognizable names—are using Film Simulation Recipes and shooting SOOC JPEGs. It’s a growing trend, and I believe it will become much bigger in the coming years. I’m truly honored to be a part of it, and I’m glad that you’ve come along for the ride.
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.