Why I love shooting jpeg. And why I think you should give it a try.

I know, I know – any photographer worth their salt should be shooting RAW fully manual. Or so everyone says. But do any of us actually believe that anymore?

Camera capabilities have come a LONG way. While I do think it’s important to understand how RAW files work and how to use manual mode, I’m all for letting the camera do the work. After all, why spend thousands of dollars on gear if you’re not going to trust it to do what it was intended to do? That’s like buying a Lamborghini and never driving it above 35 mph.

Through the use of clever in camera film simulations (basically, the ability to produce an image that mimics a certain film stock), the ability to create custom settings, and my willingness to shoot jpeg (and therefore not have to post process anything) my images come out of my camera fully finished. In fact, often times, I transfer them directly from my camera to my iPad or iPhone and share them from there, never pulling them into an editing software.

Maybe you like spending hours processing your images creatively (nothing wrong with that, by the way) but I don’t. I enjoy photography, not editing.

Since I picked up my first DLSR in 2009, my photography process has largely been about simplifying. Having grown up in the film era, I have never been able to fully get my head around digital. Oh, I love it, don’t get me wrong…but I shoot digital much the same way I used to shoot film. I make it a point to get it right in camera so that editing isn’t necessary (not that I always succeed, of course).

  • The amount of time saved by not editing means I have more time to shoot.
  • Shooting jpeg means I can share quickly and easily on the go, using WiFi to transfer images.
  • Sharing images in this more organic fashion means that the images I do share are a true depiction of my life at that point in time.
  • And this organic way of sharing means that the historical record of my images follows a consistent chronological timeline.

For me, this is the most authentic way to share images and authenticity in my photography is vital to me, personally. This is why 90% of what I shoot is shot jpeg and shared SOOC (straight out of camera).

Several years ago, Rachel Devine of Sesame Ellis hosted what she called the “Two Roll Challenge.” The basic gist was that you were to imagine you had only 72 frames to shoot (equal to two rolls of 35mm film) and shoot with that in mind. No deleting! Each shot counted as we would be sharing our contact sheets at the end of the challenge.

I pose that challenge to you as well. You can learn a lot about yourself, how you shoot, and how to get the most out of your camera when you remove the mindset of fixing it in Photoshop or adding filters. In this age of unrealistic digital manipulation, it’s okay to let your images stand on their own two feet.

*All images in this post were shot jpeg and shared SOOC with no editing.