I realize a lot of people can and should make a lot of noise about this issue, but in good measure it's at the heart of the photography I do. While they teach you to think through the images you see and want to capture, they stress focus on the "final print." Since that was often the only avenue to production it seemed reasonable. But what's a final image these days, cards, prints, Web, books, articles? Don't they all have different goals?
And this is where I've always wandered away from traditional photography. I like to take pictures and photos, and if they turn out really good, so much the better. I focus all my thinking on and in the original image, and where I said in the first column in this series I prefer to be as a photographer, to learn the craft of getting the best while I'm standing there. That stil means I apply the same thinking about light, colors or tones (B&W), and composition, but I'm not paying attention to how I will produce the final image.
I understand the potential to do a lot with an image once you've captured it on film or digitally, that's always been a part of photography, when they taught you darkroom techniques. Nothing's new there, only the technology of computers and digital images. And even some of the greats focused their image to produce prints than the original image, over or underexposing for shadows and highlights.
And it seems fair to ask if focusing on the original reduces the potential for better final images? To which I would answer, yes and no, because it depends on the the purpose and goals off the image. Do you plan to just produce images as seen, do you plan to edit the images for size, color, hue, saturation, etc. to produce an image you had in your mind, do you plan to produce images for books, cards or magazines, or do you plan to produce a fine art image? Each changes your perspective with the original.
While I admire and respect better photographers and better photography, and always learn from them and their work, I continue with my perspective of simplicity, to capture what I see as best I can while I'm standing there. The rest is what happens.