Post-Processing is Just Processing


Today’s Question: This may be a silly or pedantic question, but it is something that always struck me as odd. Why do photographers refer to “post-processing”? Isn’t it just “processing”, as in applying adjustments?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The term “post-processing” is a reference to post-capture processing, meaning adjusting the image after the capture.

More Detail: This is actually a question I’ve been asked on more than one occasion, perhaps because I tend to use the term “post-processing” somewhat frequently, and it has struck some photographers as an odd term.

While most of the processing we do to our photos happens after the photo is taken, there is an element of processing in the camera based on the camera settings and capture techniques we use. I therefore think it is fair to refer to the adjustments we apply after the capture as post-capture processing. This term is often shortened to simply “post-processing”.

Of course, perhaps I’m just biased because I tend to use the term “post-processing”. To me it makes sense. But obviously at least a few photographers disagree and think there’s no need to put “post” in front of “processing”.

In any event, I appreciate the question and don’t think it was silly. It was a fun diversion from the more typical questions I tend to receive.