There are a few questions that I get asked a lot by new photographers. They have to do with editing and style. If the questions below sound like the same questions swirling around in your mind and you can’t find the answer to them, then this is just the right article for you. I’m going to break this down for you so that it makes sense and you can decide how to move forward as a photographer.
Should I have a certain way that I edit even though I’m just starting out?
How do I know what my style is?
Should I edit every photo from every session the same?
Should I Have a Certain Way I Edit Even Though I’m Just Starting Out?
If you have already figured out how you are going to edit and know the direction you plan on going, then you are further along than I was when I started my business five years ago. Editing is one of the biggest challenges when you become a photographer. Some fall into the trap of thinking they can photograph however they want and they’ll just “fix” it during the editing process. I promise you, that isn’t how it works. It is so important to get it right in camera so that your editing is minimal.
I don’t think your clients expect you to be perfect when you start out. Many photographer charge a “Portfolio Building” fee rather than a full fee so they can charge less, shoot and edit. That’s the time to get comfortable with editing and work on finding yourself. If you’re in a forum or a group, ask questions, lots of them. Other people are there to help you succeed. People can help make sure you are on the right path with your editing. They don’t want you making everyone look like colorful Muppet characters when you think you’re just awesome!
Image on the left is from one of my very first senior sessions 5 years ago. Image on the right was taken a few weeks ago. Huge difference!
How Do I Know What My Style Is?
When you first start out, you probably won’t. I remember looking at tons of work from other photographers and feeling like I wanted to take pictures like them. But I didn’t know how. So I kept studying and being part of groups and forums and asking questions. It was the best way to learn how to be the photographer I wanted to be. I knew what I was drawn to, what interested me the most. So it seemed natural that I would want to create that same type of art. I would imagine it would be hard for you to create something you don’t love. Imagine the work you’re doing is not just for your client, but also for yourself. Imagine their image hanging up in your home. Visualize what that looks like. Do you see a lot of light, soft and creamy light or light with contrast. Do you see a lot of bold colors or subtle color. Do you see images that are more warm in color or lean to the cool side? Those are really important questions to ask yourself.
When my clients scroll through my facebook fanpage, they see consistency because I know what my style is now. I absolutely love light, lots of it! I love images that are warm, soft, and often times have just a slight matte feel to them. I just celebrated 5 years of being in business and it took until about year 3 to really be consistent to who I am as an artist. That doesn’t mean it will take you that long, but don’t get discouraged if you don’t have it figured out in the first month. The best thing you can do for your clients and yourself is to produce quality images and your sense of style will come as you develop your art.
Should I Edit Every Photo From A Session The Same?
My opinion is yes. Choose one color style and stick to it for your color edits. And then choose some of your favorites that would be great as a black and white and do some in black and white. If you do 4 different color edits, you are creating more work for yourself, showing the client you are indecisive and giving them way too many options. Another big reason why you don’t want to do that is if they are wanting to do a huge wall display in their home, all of the photos they choose should all be edited the same. It would look dreadful to have 3 different editing styles from the same session in one grouping together. I think this is how it should be for each session, but if you have another session coming up, that’s when you could choose a different editing style or preset to use as you find your path with editing.
I was all over the place when I started out. Sepia for one session (which I can’t stand now), super high contrast in another, very soft and lots of light in a different session, and a lot of color in another. It took time to be consistent with my style. And my clients were okay with that. Many of my clients return to me year after year. I don’t think any client stopped coming to me because my editing style changed from one year to the next.
In the end, you have to have confidence in what you are doing and love it. You will find your style when it comes to editing as you become more familiar with editing and how powerful it can be. Getting things right in camera is key, that way editing is there to help your images come alive, not to fix mistakes. Remember, it’s okay to not know your style when you first start out but that sessions you show clients should be edited with consistency.
Amy Phipps is the photographer behind On the Phippside Photography, located in Stockton, California. Amy has been married for 21 years and has 4 children. When she’s not trying to decide between which of her 43 black shirts to wear, you can probably find her sipping on a Dr. Pepper and walking around any day of the year in flip flops.
Visit her website.