I LOVE editing photos. It’s my meditation and such a HUGE part of my creative style.
I dare say that image editing is 50% of the process to achieving a signature style.
As a photographer working with just the available light, the conditions are not always perfect enough to achieve beautiful images straight out of camera. (almost never in fact).
Yep, it’s called REAL life!
Here’s the good news. With the right skills, you can create stunning images that wow potentail clients, blog readers and Instagram followers.
Today, I want to share 5 must-know editing tips.
Are you ready? Here we go:
#1. Take Time to Experiment
The number one most important thing to remember when learning something new is to allow yourself to experiment. Learning photo editing is FUN but it’s also a process. You got to start somewhere and then progress from there. So do yourself a BIG favour and be playful. Test, try, re-edit, repeat.
Get familiar with your your photo-editing software, and learn to stop worrying and enjoy editing. Take it one step at a time and decide to learn to master just one editing technique at a time. Great photos will come, some failures will happen but, if you love the process itself, you’ll never see your efforts as time wasted.
A great way to experiment is to emulate the style of one of your favorite photographers. This is not to copy but to have something to look at as a reference for what’s possible.
When you’re just starting out it can be hard to trust your eyes, simply because it takes time for the eyes to develop the feeling of what to look for. Did you do too little? Did you go too far? Having a photo to look at while practicing can help you discover how bight and colourful or how moody and desaturated your image could actually be.
#2. Edit Only The Best Images
One of the biggest secrets to building a magazine-worthy portfolio is to master the art of curating your photos. When you curate you select the best of the best images. Let’s say you photographed a bouquet of flowers or a cake and you end up with 197 photos of the same object, your finest job is to get those down to 10. Or even better 2-3. I know this sounds scary and in the beginning years this is a struggle for many photographers, so just know you’re not alone.
Rank your favourites images by going through them fairly quickly to make a selection based on intuition and feelings. Maybe set a time frame for yourself of 15 minutes and just do it. It’s really good practice to narrow down fast. Then when you have your curated collection ready look through them one more time and pick 1-3 images to edit.
#3. Watch Your White Colors
When shooting with only natural daylight, your images will often come out looking a bit dull and flat. That is something you will see especially with white areas present in your photo. When you look closely the white color looks more grey or dirty even. Fixing this is key to beautiful, fresh, and stylish images.
To get clean whites you first need to fix the white balance in the photo. If you study your photo closely you will notice that in most cases it will have a color tone affected by the elements in the image, or affected by the daylight conditions. This means if you have the color green in your photo and you took the picture on a sunny day, you photo will most likely be warm in color tones with a green hue. And this will affect the white in the image.
Use the temperature slider in your editing software to adjust the warm/cool tones and try to get it as close to real white as possible. Next, use the basic tools like levels, curves, brightness and contrast to eliminate any grey-ish looking areas.
In my Lifestyle Photography Academy I teach a very unique technique for painting with light. This is a way to paint brightness and darkness into your images almost like a painter painting on canvas – and this is truly the best way to create your own masterpieces. But you can get a long way just using the basic slides and buttons in Lightroom and Photoshop.
#4. Pay Attention To All Colors
I often get asked how I or other photographers achieve their specific style. Maybe you have a favourite photographer and you just love their editing style. You might be wondering if they are using a specific preset. And yes, in some cases they do use presets. I also like to work with presets, but it’s super important to know that presets are just icing on the cake.
So if planning, styling, photographing AND editing the image is like baking the cake. Then the preset is the cherry on top. The entire editing is NOT the cherry on top; that’s the preset. Make sense? No preset will rescue your photos if everything else is not working.
So in order to create a specific editing style you first need to pay close attention to the colors present in the scene you are about to photograph. If you want to create a soft, romantic, pastel look be sure to add colors that support that look. In this case white colors and patel colors will completment this and help you achieve that look in the final editing.
If you are more into creating dark and moody photos, consider using dark colors like brown, black and grey. Colors blend with the available light and that is why it has a HUGE impact on the look and style you create. Color is ultimately an artistic choice, so don’t go in thinking there is a wrong or right answer. The right answer is the one you find aesthetically pleasing.
#5. Rock The Basic Tools
The best gift you can give yourself as a photographer is to learn the nitty gritty of image editing. Don’t rely on expensive presets. Most presets are a hassle to work with because they often need adjustments to fit your individual image. Get acquainted and comfortable with what all the buttons and sliders in your editing program and it will transform your photography like nothing else.
And if you need help I offer high-value, in-deepth editing training in the Lifestyle Photography Academy
Enrollment is currently open for a short while and you get:
- 32 Lightroom videos (this training alone is worth more than the entire course!)
- 23 Photoshop video tutorials – including a BONUS section with professional retouch videos.
I also show you my personal workflow for creating both light and airy photos as well as the more dark and moody styled photos. I make it EASY to understand and quick to follow.
You can read more about the program and secure your seat here