In a digital photographic world, editing your work is key to establishing your niche, your personal vision, and artistic recognition. With the ease and innovation of photo editing applications for your smartphone or using high powered, professional programs such as Lightroom – there has never been such a plethora of options for post-production workflow. In the process to bring your photography to a professional level, it is important to recognize that distinguished photographers have their own style of editing. Let’s discuss how you can maintain consistency in your editing work.
Determine Your Style and Color Palette
The first step to discovering your editing process is to find the style and color palette that you feel best represents your work. There are multiple variations in editing that allow you to achieve completely different feelings and emotions. For example, you can add mood by underexposing your work and increasing the black points or you can add a more lighthearted feel by increasing brightness and upping the contrast. Depending on how you want your photographs to come across in your body of work will all depend on how you edit them.
Before you start editing, you need to examine the color palette you want your images to fit into. A great example is when a photographer uses one specific tone throughout their images and therefore becomes recognizable by this color. This can be done by focusing on popular colors such as white, blue, orange or yellow – which can emulate cool or warm tones. Using other colors such as red, purple or green can create a work that feels conceptual and used as an artistic choice to focus and highlight their color stock. Whichever you feel best represents your creations, it is best to use your palette as a base when beginning to edit.
Photographs by Kaya Espiritu
Develop Your Own Presets
There are a handful of presets that can be purchased from other photographers and creatives alike. Although, such packs of presets can be helpful to improve your consistency and workflow – I would recommend that any photographer wanting to reach the next level of professional work, should be creating their own specific set of presets. One reason is that creating your own presets allows you to understand how editing really works. You will have to learn how to use tools such as the tone curve, split toning, saturation, hue and more. Programs such as Lightroom and Photoshop are truly versatile and allow you to save your settings to develop presets (Lightroom) or actions (Photoshop). Whichever platform you prefer, it is important to understand how you can utilize them to make your final delivery of images stand out. Adobe offers a specific package for these two programs, made with photographers in mind. You can check out the plan here.
As aforementioned, developing your own presets is ideal, but it is understandable that the process does take time to learn and you will need to edit your images in the meantime. In this case, I would recommend finding presets that can act as a base for your work and then tweak them to make them your own and unique to you. There are plenty of basic presets offered that focus on editing for certain conditions as well as efficient editing applications that can allow you to edit with one tap of a button. In my opinion, the best editing application you can download for your smartphone is VSCO. Standing for Visual Supply Company, VSCO has been around for years and is always developing new presets for their app based on user’s preferred style and taste. The majority of their filters have a film like essence, but you can easily adjust and add elements as you see fit – either to keep this analog theme or to make something entirely new and tailored to your own work. You can browse their company on their website.
Plan Your Content
Once you have determined your style and began editing your work, the next step is to plan your content. Planning the way your work is arranged is often spoke about in terms of your Instagram feed, it is important to note that any place you display your work should adhere to a plan, layout and consistent flow. For example, the way you place images on your website should always be intentional. Some photographers prefer to showcase individual images while others lean toward varying grid and gallery layouts. An example is if your work is predominantly portrait length, a grid with 3 images in each row would allow for visual appeal and organization. If your images are mostly large, striking landscapes – you may consider a fixed gallery with horizontal sliding capabilities.
When planning your content for social media purposes, there are a few tricks you can use to maintain a cohesive grid. Some photographers use the simple method of laying out photographs on their desktop, as if to mimic the Instagram grid, in order to plan and organize their feed. You can also use applications such as UNUM or Planoly, each that offer easy to use and well designed features to schedule your content.
Lastly, for other social media platforms other than Instagram, you can use websites like Canva or programs like Photoshop to create collages, side by side sets of images and galleries to display your photographs in a professional, editorial way. I suggest using the print feature in Lightroom as well for creating such visual displays. Using these techniques can allow for an appealing layout that will appear unique when sharing on platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest or Tumblr.
Consistent and thoughtful editing is a sure mark for any professional photographer. Using the methods and techniques discussed, we hope you can create a personalized and intentional style, layout and plan for your imagery. Any tips on maintaining a cohesive editing style? Drop us your thoughts in the comments below.