When most of us hear the phrase “photo editing” we generally think of editing a photo to enhance it in some way using computer software. Although that is usually a big component of post-production, the “photo editing” process should always start with photo selection. When photo editors edit photos, what they are usually doing is selecting images that they feel will work for a particular use. Most of us end up being our own photo editors, so we should be familiar and learn how to select our best images. The photo editing selection process should be one of the most important parts of your post-production, but is often not given enough emphasis.
We all have a photographic style whether we realize it or not, amateurs and professionals alike. Many photographers, however, never give much thought to this with the result often being images that are “normal” or lacking expression. If we want to improve our photography we need to: First, understand we each have a unique style. Second, reflect on this to better understand why we shoot the way we do, and lastly, use this knowledge to move forward with self-confidence to help improve our skills and imagery.
There are numerous things to think about and often challenges to overcome when working on a photo documentary. Here are eight useful tips that I believe will make the process easier and help you create more compelling and powerful stories.
Robert Capa once said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” Capa wasn’t advocating the use of longer lenses; he was telling photographers to physically get closer and more involved with their subjects. If you ever look at the lenses photojournalists have on their cameras, you will almost exclusively see some type of wide-angle. This is because photojournalists generally want their viewers to feel like they are there in the scene with them. A wide-angle lens allows the photographer, like the photojournalist, to work very near their subjects, providing an intimate feeling in their photographs.
A powerful post-processing technique I use for almost every photo is adjusting my settings locally. I use this technique to bring emphasis to key areas of a photo that I want my viewer to focus on. I am using Adobe’s Lightroom Adjustment Brush and Adobe’s Photoshop Dodging and Burning tools to accomplish this. I generally shoot in RAW so images right out of the camera are typically flat and dull. I first make general adjustments to my photos such as correcting for white balance and overall exposure. Then I will start making the important local adjustments.
Getting your camera into the water doesn’t have to entail purchasing an expensive housing that one might think is necessary. I recently did some research on alternatives to hard casings that would allow you to get your SLR camera into the water. I came across a few different companies offering durable plastic casings that I thought I would try out.