a little bit of this & a little bit of that: editing tips | personal
I don’t think I’ve ever done an editing blog, have I? I don’t think I have, so I think I will!
Post-processing was one of my biggest challenges when I first started shooting professionally. When you’re first starting out, there might be an impulse to copy the editing techniques of your favorite photographers. I will admit that I tried, but could never figure out their tricks! The practice of copying other works of art is used in many art forms and can be incredibly helpful. The professors in all of my various mediums of training (drawing, painting, sculpture, and photography) all had us start out by copying other works. The goal is to copy other talented artists so that, in the process, you pick up on some of their techniques and then (most importantly) you combine them with your own techniques and make them your own. Thus, when it came to our company, I started on my own path of editing trial and error, a process of figuring out what Randy and I liked best.
Every photographer has a different stance on post-processing. It all depends on individual taste. To me, a picture isn’t finished when it comes straight out of the camera. For example, when you take a picture with black and white film and take your negatives into the dark room, chances are that of each picture will require individual love (dodging, burning, etc). Same goes for pictures taken with a digital camera. What you see in real life and what you see on your LCD screen will never directly coincide visually. Some pictures require more work than others to make them look “right” (whatever your definition of “right” might be).
One of my biggest challenges has been to throw out everything I’ve learned about color correction in school. Printing color in a dark room is a pain in the butt (and that’s an understatement!) It requires lots of patience, a gift God did not give me :) And of course, we as students were trained to print with accurate color adjustments (not too much magenta, not too much cyan). But inherently, I like my pictures a little warm and a little magenta. I HATE GREEN TONES! So… instead of fighting it, I choose to integrate it. I also like my pictures a little contrasty, which isn’t considered “accurate” in school terms. But who cares? It’s all about creating your look. It’s part of your branding. It’s part of what’s unique to you as a photographer.
For all of our post-processing work, Randy and I use Lightroom and Totally Rad Actions. Honestly, it took me well over a year to find my perfect mix of processes. I started out over-zealous and threw too much stuff on our pictures. It pains me look back at our early work! I love the quality of Totally Rad Actions, but our focus is to use them to enhance our pictures. We want to showcase our photography, not the actions. So, in our case, we found less is more. We use small amounts of a few different actions on top of our RAW converted images, just enough to give them our unique look :) We don’t like having to look through a cloud of thick actions to see the images underneath.
So I suppose my advice to any photographers out there struggling with post-processing is to do some trial and error. Figure out what you like and don’t like, and go from there. It’s as simple as that!
Here is an example of what one of our images looks like straight out of the camera, and what it looks like after we give it our unique flavor:
If this has helped any of you, it would be great to know! Don’t be shy :)