One of the biggest struggles that photographers deal with is their edits. Determining what edit fits your work the best, can be quite the undertaking. Some photographers might look at their edits as just the “icing on the cake” but it is much more than that. When used effectively, your edits will help you tell your story.
Right now think about who your favorite photographers are. Now I want you to go deeper and actually look at how they are telling their client’s stories through their edits. How would their story be conveyed to you if that edit would change? Knowing how to engage your audience with your edits is crucial.
Here is a straight out of camera shot, with minimal edits in Lightroom 4. This image was taken with a Nikon D700, Sigma 35mm 1.4. The settings F/2.5 | 1/1250 | ISO 320
This edit pulls out more of a film edit. To obtain this edit you will want to duplicate layer. 1. Filter > Add Noise > Add as much noise as you would like. Now at this point you will be able to lower the opacity and/or brush off any noise not wanted on your subjects. 2. Hue/Saturation > -10 Saturation. 3. Brightness/Contrast > -7 Brightness & -10 Contrast 4. Color Balance > Shadows +8 Green, Midtones -3 Red, -3 Magenta, +3 Yellow, Highlights -1 Cyan, -3 Magenta 4. Curves > Output 199 & Input 189
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Next would be an edit with a bit more of a color punch, with increased contrast. 1. Levels > 25/1.00/255 2. Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color > 231/212/218 ( You will want to accent the color to the tones of the image) >Change Mode to Soft Light > 15% 3. Levels > 0/1.24/255 4. Curves > Point 1 Output 72 & Input 78, Point 2 Output 184 & Input 178 5. Brightness & Contrast > -5 Brightness & -10 Contrast > Vibrance > +10
Another edit here would be an edit that slightly brightens & adds a matte overtone. 1. Gradient Map > 113/66/82 down to 255/255/255 > Soft Light > 30% 2. Selective Color > Whites > Blacks + 15 > Neutrals > Blacks +5 > 3. Levels > 9/1.03/255 4. Exposure > 0.00/+0.0131/1.00 4. Curves > Output 66 & Input 71 5. Curves > Output 138 & Input 125
Work through your edits and determine what it is that you like and don’t like. Creating your own unique storytelling voice is what will best engage your clients and audience, making you stand out in your industry. Remember the goal is to build our storytelling with the edits, not have the edits be the story.