Editing as a Beginner

Hey guys!! Today I want to talk a little bit about my editing process and show a few before and after comparisons of images I’ve created. But, before I get into today’s topic, I just want to say thank you for the incredible interaction with my last blog post. I appreciate the support so much and am very excited to keep writing!

There is a lot of back and forth out there regarding post-production and how much editing is “too much.” Many people criticize any use of post-production software whatsoever. The argument made is that its use is a misrepresentation of the pure world. In my opinion, post-production software is only “over-used” or “improperly used in an edit” if it does not help you achieve what you are wanting your photo to emphasize. For example, you might be overly utilizing post-production software if you are trying to photograph a subject in its most natural state. This type of photography would include categories such as architecture, portraits, documentary work, etc.,. However, if you classify yourself more as a visual artist or graphic artist, the argument seems the exact opposite as post-production software provides endless opportunities for manipulation and creation that would otherwise be unachievable. I believe the line gets blurred on this topic for a lot of beginner photographers because the beginner stage is when you are really just trying to figure out what you like to shoot and what audience you want to target. This is a HUGE trial and error process that I noted briefly in my first blog post. For instance, if you look at my Instagram feed you will see a transformation through my photos in subject matter, tones, and graphic manipulation considerably. Finding your specific niche in this industry is extremely hard and discouraging. You put a composition out for display that you have worked very hard on and really like personally and then it doesn’t get the public reaction you anticipated. You go out to shoot and it’s a total bust as you realize you got no usable photos. Every single photographer experiences these things and it is just part of it. In my opinion, as long as you learn something from your failure, you’re doing great! So with a little encouragement on that note, keep going. You will be so happy you did if photography is truly your passion. Sorry for the rant but I wanted to get that out there as this topic really hits close for me being in the midst of all these beginner battles myself.

Moving on to the more technical part of this blog post, the editing software I currently use for all my photos is Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and occasionally After Effects (very rarely After Effects for still photos but it does have its place.)

After a shoot, the first thing I do is make a folder on my external hard drive and dump my images. TIP:  store your RAW images on an external hard drive and just connect it to your computer when editing so that both your software and internal hard drive run much more efficient. This may be super obvious to some people but if it’s a new idea to you, I promise, the external hard drive is worth every penny and it completely changes the whole editing game. Next, I import all the photos into Lightroom and I work with the photos as a whole. I set basic tones and adjustments across all of the images to maintain consistency. After I get my basic adjustments worked out to my liking, I go back through and use the Lightroom ratings feature to select my favorite images. After I’ve narrowed down my favorites, I open those images in Photoshop for any graphic manipulation that I want to experiment with such a s blur, opacity, adding people/ objects, etc.,. At this point (usually a good amount of hours or even days later) I have a final image. I really only implement the use of Premiere Pro and After Effects for exporting a frame from a video.

Now for a few before and after edits.

BEFORE:                                                                AFTER:


This is an example of an edit of mine that relied heavily on Lightroom and Photoshop manipulation.  My intent with this photo was not to depict the scene in its purest form, but to depict what I imagined in my head when I was photographing this location.

BEFORE:                                                                AFTER:


This photo is much less imaginative and communicates the scene more true to how I saw it in real time.  This was a fairly easy photo to edit and I only used Lightroom to adjust tones and add contrast.

BEFORE:                                                                AFTER:


I wanted to include this photo in the series because this is an example of an edit I implemented the use of Premiere Pro.  Strangely, this actually isn’t really a picture at all.  If you have seen my “Atlanta, GA” video (if you haven’t its in the menu under “Video”) you may notice this looks a lot like one of the clips… and that’s because it is!  When I was playing back through the clips one day, I had the idea that I wanted to create this same concept but in a still photo. So, I simply exported the frame and continued editing in Lightroom and Photoshop as normal.

Well, that is just a basic glimpse into how I edit my photos.  Editing is a tricky thing because it is a process that varies from creator to creator based on personal preference.  This is simply an outline of the basic things I do throughout the editing process and what works for me personally.  You might have read this and said to yourself “yeah, she knows nothing and she’s doing it all the long way around.”  If you did, that’s most definitely okay and I’m fine with that because I do feel like my photos are getting better and I am growing as a photographer.  I just think it is helpful to see other people’s processes because it is a different/ new perspective on how something can be done.  I know that reading blogs and watching YouTube videos has helped me more than anything.  Some tips work for me and some do not, but, either way, I learn something and that’s all that matters!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post.  If you did, leave a comment, a like, and subscribe to let me know! I’m thinking about doing some posts that are specific to different post production software featuring topics like “My Top 5 Lightroom Tricks” or “My Top 5 Ways to Implement Brushes in Photoshop.”  I’d love to hear feedback on what software topics you would like to hear from me in the future because this blog is all about helping  😊

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