When it comes to photography, most often people fall into 2 camps: film photography or digital. Coming from someone who has experienced both but leans more heavily into digital photography, I can say there are pros and cons when it comes to both. But the beautiful thing about digital photography, and my personal favorite component of it, is the editing.
When it comes to digital photography, taking the photo is only half of the battle. The second half is sitting down at your computer and actually processing the images. I want to talk about what my process looks like when it comes to editing.
Tip 1: Organize
Organizing your photos is very essential because the nature of digital photography is quantity over quality. Now am I saying that digital photography lacks in quality? Not a chance. Today’s smartphones are able to take photos at 30 and 40 MP, let alone some of the more modern DSLR’s and mirrorless cameras that exist today. What I am saying is that with digital photography, you’re going to take a lot of photos. And not all of those photos will meet the standard of quality that you’re trying to achieve.
So the first step in my editing process is to import all the images that I took into lightroom, into separate individualized albums. For some photographers, that may happen days or even weeks after the shoot but for me, I make sure to import my photos the same night because far too many times have I accidentally deleted images, or even had an SD card go corrupt on me. Worst nightmare. I’ve disciplined myself to do this as soon as possible, that way when I’m ready to sit down and edit, everything is good to go and ready to process.
Tip 2: Cull
Now that all the images are imported into your photo editor of choice, it’s time to cull them. What exactly is culling photos? Culling photos is the process of going through each and every image that you took and deciding whether you are going to keep it or leave it. For me, in Lightroom CC, this looks like starting from the first image, and one by one, either hitting (Z) to add the photo to my “picked” section, or (X) to “reject” the photo. By the time that I reach the final photo, I will have completely culled all of the photos that I do not plan to use, and I can now go through all the photos that I actually do want to use and edit them more efficiently.
This process is important because it allows you to “trim the fat” so to speak, and only work with the images that you want to use instead of going through a big mess of photos that you may or may not even want to use.
Tip 3: Visualize
This step is very important. Visualization can occur while you’re culling your images, but for me, when I sit down to edit, chances are, I already decided exactly how I want the photo to look, all the way back when I was taking the photo. I’ve already decided whether I was going to go for a more vintage, film-esque look, or maybe a clean, simple, more modern professional look. This is pivotal to creating a great image. When you can take a photo with the end already in mind, it allows you to take the photo in a more intentional way. It allows you to take certain creative liberties because you know that when you sit down to edit the photos, it will be a simple matter of just adjusting the settings. No brainstorming or experimentation needed. Not to say that experimentation is not good. Because it can be a powerful tool especially with something like photo editing.
Tip 4: Polish
Now that you have what you want your photo to look like in mind, it’s time to sit down and polish your image. My style tends to lean more into vintage/film aesthetic. Personally, I just love the warmth and classic style of film photos. And so I try to emulate that with the way I edit my digital photos. A tool that really helps me with this goal is the VSCO Lightroom Film Presets. I don’t believe they are still available, which is a bummer, but somehow I was able to get my hands on all 8 packs. I primarily use the first pack as a sort of
Tip 5: Re-polish