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Editing

  • The Photographer's Crutch

a crutch. There it is…. the cold hard truth.  The only reason I can say this is because it used to be MY crutch.  In my opinion, the most detrimental thing that could happen a new photographer is the discovery of PS actions. I remember when I discovered Yang and Ying…. all of you TRA action users know the lingo….I was amazed! You mean I could lighten and darken ANY part of my image? Just with one click?! All of a sudden my dark, underexposed faces were ok! All of my weaknesses in shooting manually were gone! Life was good! ….. or so I thought.  What was really happening was that I stopped LEARNING and started ….

….EDITING, more and more and more.  Why did I need to learn how to nail my exposures when I could just Ying-Yang the bride and grooms face? Right? I specifically remember telling one of my best photography friends after shooting a wedding together that I had underexposed some portraits but hey! I’ll just Ying-yang it…. no big deal.  Oh it is SUCH a big deal! Thank goodness I snapped out of that phase and realized that extreme editing was not my friend…. it was my crutch.  It kept me from learning and growing as a photographer.  I was shooting images that I would NEVER show to clients unedited on the back of my camera… no way!… and I thought that was ok. I have since learned a very valuable lesson……editing should not determine my skill level as a photographer.

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What I mean by that is basically, I want my images to come out of the camera looking GOOD. I don’t want my editing to define my skill, I want my skill to be shown in how I shoot.  Does that make sense? Am I rambling? …. Really, I just wanted to encourage all photographers out there.. young or old, pro or amateur, that learning the art of photography is never done! We will never stop learning new techniques. HOWEVER, in the digital age, it is easy to fall away from this way of thinking. It is easy to let your editing fix ALL of your errors and in my personal opinion, I think that is a cop-out.  I don’t say this with authority, I say this with experience. I depended heavily on Photoshop for several months when I first started my business.  It was a MAJOR crutch for me. I would encourage ALL photographers to continue to learn! Strive for great SOOC images that you are PROUD to show off unedited! It’s hard…. I still have trouble nailing exposures and being confident to show my work unedited.  However, ever since I decided to make that my goal, I have been learning and growing more than I ever imagined because I’m challenging myself! So maybe during your next shoot or even practicing at home, shoot until you can take an image SOOC and feel confident about it! IT IS POSSIBLE!!!

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ps. I’m not claiming that editing is BAD BAD BAD! It is only a negative thing when we become so dependent on it what we stop challenging ourselves to grow!:) I definitely edit my images but the less I have to edit, the better!

Below is a BEFORE and AFTER from Robbie and Jess’s Williamsburg wedding back in August.

This image was edited with TRA’s “Oh Snap” at 20% and then mild sharpening for the web!

15 Comments Photography
  1. Elysia reply

    Awesome post! I think its true that many photographers hinder themselves by taking up the “oh, I can fix in post” state of mind. When I shoot now, I always keep a mental list of things to watch out for: cropping limbs, stray hairs, obtrusive objects in the bg, ect ontop of making sure I have good lighting. Its so much easier to take care of it before snapping the photo than spending hours in post. I dont really use actions though, I do all my color correcting manually :P

  2. Ashley Madsen reply

    AMEN!!! I’ve been there… the “oh I’ll just fix it later” thing. And I remember someone at a shoot asking to see a particular shot and I said “oh I want you to be surprised later” because I knew I didn’t want to show them then and there. So glad my goal for this year was to not rely on photoshop. I’ve grown so much more. Great post!!!

  3. Laura reply

    Great post Katelyn! I can definitely relate, when I first got actions- I was soooo excited I could “fix” everything! I soon learned a very valuable lesson as well :) I too want to be proud of my SOOC shots!

  4. Kelly Langner Sauer reply

    I am really grateful for the ability to process things in Photoshop – but you’re so right, it can become a crutch. I’ve been making a more concerted effort to watch my exposures and settings when I shoot so that the only thing I’m doing in Photoshop defining my colors, softness, and style. It doesn’t always work perfectly, and I still have a lot to learn, because it takes a LOT to be completely on technically when you’re capturing in-between moments – I hope one day not to have to use PS to save those rare shots I didn’t have my settings right and I just couldn’t lose it.

    Great advice.

  5. Susan Dukat reply

    amen sista – been there – done that!

  6. cynthia michelle reply

    Thanks for this post, Katelyn. I think this is something that we (new photographers) need to keep reminding ourselves. I know I do!! Thanks, girl! :)

  7. Amy reply

    Excellent article! I find myself in front of editing programs non stop b/c I don’t seem to know when to say enough is enough. I show many of my clients the images off the back of my camera. My problem is I take wayyy tooo man pictures. I never seem to know how to cut it down, where enough is enough, and Im giving too much for the price, know what I mean?!!

  8. Arielle Doneson reply

    Excellent post!! I can remember those early days of shooting when I also overly relied on photoshop actions-and I now see some of my friends new to shooting make the same mistakes. It’s so much more rewarding to learn how to really use Manual shooting fluently and to edit in-camera, and so much faster!
    Great post from an Awesome photographer! Love your work, girl!

  9. Heather Corporan reply

    Thanks BUNCHES for this post Katelyn. I just purchased by first DSLR and REALLY want to get serious about starting by business. I’ve reas many times to learn Manual and nail it straight outta the box – but it’s not as easily done as said. So thank you thank you thank you for this post. . . I needed a reminder : ) PS I think you’re kinda awesome! I’ve been following MANY great photography blogs for almost two years learning, and you’re the first one I read now : D

  10. michelle brooks reply

    This is SO spot on! I am still so new in the industry (finished Year One, or Year of the Crying Girl!) it hurts, but I saw early on that I absolutely could not depend on processing to be what made my images so special. I still lean more heavily on it than I like, but I am striving every day to get those SOOC images that need less and less processing. Thanks for this reminder!

  11. Melissa reply

    I completely agree. I believe that learning your trade and being able to produce quality products without editing is great, it’s nice to edit to tweek an image. Your work is truely amazing, I only wish I could be as fabulous as you. Someday I will hopefully have the knowledge you do.

  12. thegirltyler reply

    Thank you so much for this post! I’m just getting into the business but have been photographing for years. I always hate the phrase “photoshop it out” and feel that it’s better to start with a great photo that try to edit something into one.

  13. Allison reply

    OK so I’m know I’m really really late reading this, but I totally agree with you. Sometimes I think I can just fix that in photoshop! The thing is sometimes I can’t get it right and then it just looks weird. So cause of that I’ve been pushing myself to get the right exposure and it makes post editing so much easier and faster!

    side note: I love the “oh snap” action!!!

  14. Eryn reply

    Katelyn, I love these behind the scenes posts…you continue to kick my butt (in the nice way) to better myself.

    Can I ask, how you sharpen your images for the web? I’ve been trying to get a handle on lightroom to have a better workflow, which has also challenged me to better my in camera shots, so I just spend LESS time editing :) But, now I’m not wanting to re-open images in Photoshop to sharpen…do you sharpen straight from Lightroom?

  15. Lanye reply

    I know this post is YEARS old, and I don’t mean to be a stalker at all but I always like to start from the very beginning when I find a blog that I really enjoy. You don’t start a book on the last page, so I don’t read blogs that way.

    I have a couple of questions/comments! I agree 100% that editing isn’t a fallback. I know there are some circumstances that you really can’t do much about, but in general I don’t like to shoot with the mentality of just fixing it later. With portraits I almost always nail the light and exposure in camera and rarely have to do much post processing. Weddings…well that can be a little bit of a different story.

    I’m pretty sure that I’ve figured out that “sweet spot” for my camera exposure wise. I have noticed that I have to bump the ISO up quite a bit when shooting indoors, especially at receptions (even when lighting with flash.) When I shoot with other photographers it doesn’t seem like they have to go as high as I do with ISO. I try to stay somewhere around 100 as a baseline for shutter speed, just so that I can try to freeze movement as much as possible. I will go higher if necessary, but it can be really difficult to do so in areas that are super dark.

    The noise from using higher ISOs really takes away from the sharpness of the image, even if the noise isn’t really noticeable. Could I be trying to stay too high with my shutter speeds? I worry that with decreasing ISO my shutter speed will be much too slow to capture motion, especially for indoor ceremonies.

    I’d love to have your input on this!

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