Editing Photographs Is Cheating…Right?
When I first started taking photography seriously, I distinctly remember talking to a photographer friend of mine and asking how come all his photos looked so amazing and bemoaning the fact that my photos didn’t look anywhere near as good straight out of camera. How did he do it without editing photographs?
When he had finally stopped laughing, he asked me what programme I used to edit my images. “oh I don’t” I said merrily, assuming that made me part of the in-crowd “editing is cheating right?”
Photo Editing Is As Much A Part Of The Process As Shooting
I left our catch up armed with the details for Adobe Lightroom and my photography life changed forever. I also quickly discovered that editing images in post-processing often takes as long, if not longer, than the shoot itself.
Which Photo Editing Programme Is Best?
This is a tricky one as I don’t think there is necessarily a ‘best’ option. But, there will definitely be one that is ‘best’ for your level of experience and your own editing needs.
If you are just starting out on your photo editing journey then Adobe Lightroom is a brilliant tool in your armour. Easy and intuitive to use and bundled with Photoshop in the monthly package from Adobe, you can make fast, simple and effective changes to your images from either your laptop or even from your mobile device. Personally, I wouldn’t be without it.
Are you a student?
More advanced users will happily geek out for hours over the capabilities of Photoshop, but if you are a beginner or in the early stages of photo editing, then the level of geekery involved in Photoshop can be hard to wrap your head around. If you want to play with cloning, composite images and complex brush work however, then Photoshop is a serious bad boy that deserves flirting with.
How Does Editing Improve Images?
Improve And Enhance
Sure, you can use programmes like Photoshop to lengthen legs, slim down waistlines and remove photo-bombing toddlers or old grannies from your images (and to be fair I would regularly benefit from all of these) but this isn’t the kind of editing I’m talking about here!
In my own work I use editing software to improve and enhance my images – subtle altering of exposure, enhancing or decreasing the depth of shadows or the warmth of certain tones, playing with soft vignettes or saturation levels.
A software programme can only help so much though. If you are bunging a badly lit, poorly composed, horribly styled image into an editing programme and hoping for magic then I gently suggest you go back to photography basics.
Creating A Consistent Brand Voice
After a while you will begin to notice that your images begin to take on a certain ‘feel’. My own images are clean and rich in colour with a ‘vintage’ flavour to them. Your style might be more desaturated or really highly contrasted. Ideally you want to end up with a style that people instantly recognise as belonging to you.
This is where Lightroom really comes into its own with the use of Presets.
What Is A Preset And How Can It Help?
Presets are a one-click editing tool that applies a wide series of edits to a photograph in one action. For most people starting out in photo editing, presets are a game changer.
Presets come in a downloadable zip file which you simply upload to your Lightroom software and boom – you are good to go. If you fancy finding out a bit more about using Lightroom and editing in general then hop on over to our Facebook Group to learn more!
How To Choose The Right Presets
If you are still developing your own personal style then I suggest you head on over to Pinterest or Instagram and start saving images that you love – pictures that make your heart sing and resonate with you and your brand.
Once you have a style in mind, start scouring stores (in blogs like mine!) and marketplaces like Creative Market and Etsy for presets that fit that vision. Try to choose presets that are tonally similar to the images you take and offer the right look and feel.
Like most quality preset developers I have spent countless hours perfecting them and I share the exact same presets that I use in my own editing process. If you fancy giving them a go you can try them here.
For example, if you tend to take images in the countryside or in studio conditions, presets designed for food shoots or cityscapes won’t deliver the results you are looking for and will just leave you feeling disappointed. Most preset stores will give you an example of the results to expect from each preset
You should also find that well-crafted presets don’t contain any local brush adjustments or dramatic alterations of exposure as these are specific to each image.
Once you have find a set of presets you love they are super simple to install and use – if you have forgotten how to install them just follow the handy guide below!
*This post includes affiliate links to Adobe Lightroom – purchasing an Adobe product from this link pays a small commission to me without any additional cost to you!