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Photoshop Actions. Lazy or Efficient?

Photoshop actions eliminate a lot of thinking and apply a set of operations to an image for a pre-determined look. They save time. They create predictable results. What’s not to like? So, they are just a matter of efficiency correct? In a way that’s absolutely right. So, they’re not the product of laziness? Well, in a way that’s absolutely true too. The real answer to the question of whether or not Photoshop actions are a matter of efficiency or laziness comes down to how they’re used.

Here’s my take on actions:

  • Use them, it is okay. Create your own or find ones you like. Many are freely available and distributed for all to use.
  • Understand that not all actions create the same results with all photos.
  • Even after an action is applied, you should expect that adjustments are necessary to dial in the result.
  • Don’t rely on them to make up for poor composition and choice of subject matter.
  • Your style is your style, but refrain from overcooking an image to produce an odd result.
  • Actions are not artistic, they’re akin to a brush. The result comes from you.

Whether you make your own, buy them or use many of the actions that are freely available, use them. There’s no harm in using all of the tools at your disposal to achieve the results you desire. Just remember that consistency is important in defining your style, you still need to apply artistic interpretation as needed to achieve results that stand out.

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