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For Photographers – What Does SOOC Mean?

There’s a billion acronyms in photography; some of them (such as DSLR) are pretty well-known, while others (like SOOC) are less common. SOOC means “straight-out-of-camera” and denotes *ZERO* computer photoshop. No Bridge / Lightroom / Aperture, etc… (If you still do your color correction in Photoshop, you are a DINOSAUR and we need to have a chat… ;-)

Now be honest, fellow photographers, how many of you are TERRIFIED of your friends (clients?) seeing your images SOOC? That’s okay, it’s perfectly normal, this isn’t a scold. It took me the capturing and processing of tens of thousands of images, before I felt like I had a good handle on the whole SOOC thing…

Some photographers are religious RAW shooters, some shoot JPG and create images 10x better than the RAW geeks. Some photographers spend 30 minutes on every single one of the 500 images they’re sharing / delivering, and some photographers just deliver a disc of “SOOC proofs”.

Personally, I run down the middle of the road- I shoot RAW when necessary, yet I make every effort to *nail* the in-camera settings, and shoot JPG whenever possible. (And every now and then, I shoot film! Click HERE to check out a few images, many from this same wedding, taken on Agfa Ultra, and basically “SOOC” as far as film goes…)

In-camera settings are your workflow’s best friend. I’ll blog about my specific in-camera settings on CameraTalk soon, but for now I just want to share what SOOC images *can* look like, and then what images might look like with minor color corrections applied. This is the amount of editing I do for an image that is going to be put on my iPod, (or iPhone, iPad etc.) and Facebook, etc. For albums, prints, and any other product, (or image licensing, etc) … I perform comprehensive correction and retouching, and stylized processing when necessary. But that is another post for another day…

Here are a few SOOC images from last weekend’s wedding, with zero computer editing applied. No exposure, color, or contrast tweaking- just my custom recipe of resizing and sharpening for Facebook etc. viewing, and a watermark. I shot the images in JPG: (And yes, I shoot in-camera B&W JPG sometimes. No guts, no glory!)

Now, what would I do to make these images better? The first three are good enough right out of the camera, but the above shoe shot, I quickly bumped a couple settings in Bridge. It may look almost the same to the un-trained eye, but I’m just really OCD about my images “clarity”… (Hover over each image and give it a sec, for the before & after effect.) …Oh, and since I’m into architectural photography, the crooked lines bugged me so I straightened them. ;-)

(Okay, now we’re back to un-edited, “good enough!” images that I wouldn’t bother editing…)

…Alright, the last image is a trick. Hover over it to see the original. I shot in RAW, just because I was about to also shoot the important formals, in bright sunlight. This scene didn’t really require RAW at all, and I could have shot it in JPG no problem. I’ll post more (RAW) images from this wedding soon, but until then, I hope this blog entry was helpful!

PS: Yes, Strawberry Farms in Irvine again… And yes, those are cactus wedding favors! :-)

Take care,


by Matthew Saville

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May 17, 2010 - 4:46 PM Kia Gregory - I love how even if you shoot SOOC some people still feel the need to do "something" to their images. I do it all the time. I've been good SOOC on my last two "no pressure" sessions but felt the need to sharpen here, adjust curves there. It seems to easy when you do a good job SOOC. Your work is awesome!

May 17, 2010 - 4:50 PM Eric Farewell - I'm with ya' man... Aside from bare minimum tweaking (contrast and color correction) I literally do NOTHING to my images... Nail it in camera and it all just comes together!

May 17, 2010 - 5:06 PM Morgan - I've finally gotten to the point where I feel I don't need to make too many tweaks. I try to keep it to a little touch of contrast here, and a touch of sharpening there in LR. Your SOOC are awesome!

May 18, 2010 - 4:39 AM Nicole Chan - Awesome B/Ws! I find that blogstomp actually does a bit of work for me in terms of ready-for-web sharpening. Other than that, a tiny bit of curves and color boost and the images are ready to go. Sometimes, I can't be bothered to edit so many photos. =X Great job on the SOOCs. I'd love to see the before/after of when you DO post-process.

May 19, 2010 - 9:34 PM Stephen Bellingham - Matt, you are amazing. Great post, great shots...thanks for sharing. I feel a little bit better about being a SOOC guy. See you soon.

July 28, 2010 - 9:22 PM Carmen - Creative! I dig it!

December 14, 2010 - 10:25 AM Terra - I love all the pictures but I really love the one you did of the wedding bands! Very creative :)

March 14, 2012 - 4:24 PM Mike - outstanding pics. just one question to everyone that posted: isn't sharpening and minimum contrast/exposure tweaking still considered post-editing (i.e. NOT SOOC)?

July 2, 2012 - 11:08 AM Terry - Mike, You made a very sensible comment. As I was reading the article, it felt more contradictory by the second. Made no sense. Either you shoot SOOC or not (it's like you can't be a little bit pregnant). But the shots are very beautiful and creative. This is a talented photographer regardless, so I don't understand this mental thing about shooting SOOC, as if that's what makes an amazing photographer. I do believe in getting as right as you can out of the camera, but yes sharpening and tweaking is still post and not SOOC.

July 3, 2012 - 9:02 AM Matthew Saville - At the very most, Terry & Mike, I would call it "pre-production". It certainly isn't post production, if it happens BEFORE the image is clicked! It is just the same as a film photographer choosing slide film instead of negative film, or B&W film instead of color. It is a choice made before the capture. For those who don't understand why I hold this concept in such high regard, well, that's fine. It is just a creative hobby I have. I like to capture images in-camera so that they don't need anything at all on the computer. Or at the very least, I like to get my exposure and white balance good enough that a RAW / JPG capture only needs <10 seconds of post-production in order to be presentable. It is not a concept / hobby for everyone. I understand that there are plenty of people out there who consider post-production to be one of the most important aspects of a photographer's presentation. Trust me, I'm a HUGE fan of Ansel Adams and the post-production work he the dark room! But that doesn't stop me from smiling when I know I've nailed a shot SOOC. Take care, =Matt=

October 28, 2010 - 7:43 AM Carl Zeiss 3.5/18 Review | Raymond Larose Photography - [...] or the occasional cross-balance when the mood strikes me.  I love to keep my shots as close to SOOC as I can.  With my Zeiss glass, I really find no need to do much post work.  No need for color [...]

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