In recent years, advances in mobile technology, along with the phenomenon of social media, have made it effortless for anyone to capture, upload, and share photos with a global audience. As the once-exclusive realm of professional photography has seen such barriers to entry gradually broken down, the general observation is that anybody with a mobile device can be a photographer now. But the skill of photography doesn’t just involve what’s in front of the camera or what takes place leading up to a shot. Post-processing is a significant sub-skill that can go a long way towards improving your photography and achieving better creative self-expression. These steps will help you get started on improving this aspect.
Allow yourself to be creative
There’s a long-standing debate about the ethics of post-processing in photography. But you can decide what’s best for your purposes. If you want to achieve precision adjustments without misleading viewers, then it’s better to employ professional retouching for that purpose. In particular, retouching services are vital in photographing high-end jewelry and other luxury products for a client or personal business.
As a hobbyist or artist, you can be more creative and explore different adjustments without worrying about ethical issues. Remember that making art isn’t about attempting to capture the exact likeness of a subject as it exists in nature. You can draw attention to a subject and relay that impression to the viewer through different post-processing techniques.
Experiment and learn
Before the digital age ushered in DSLRs and Photoshop (followed by mobile cameras and proliferation of editing apps), student photographers polished their post-processing craft in a darkroom. If you’re learning photography on a film camera, you have access to this great hands-on experience.
With digital post-processing, however, users can find the vast array of options and new terms confusing. There is no “right” or “wrong” app – you can eventry several apps as long as they are within your budget. Don’t feel pressured to learn professional standard software such as Lightroom. As a hobbyist, you can achieve satisfying results even with free apps and filters, while learning the same fundamental concepts of exposure, saturation, color balance, noise, and sharpness. As your skill progresses, you can begin looking into more advanced features of editing programs, such as layer blending and compositing, curve adjustments, or frequency separation.
One of the biggest yet most easily overlooked benefits of post-processing is that it forces you to go back and review your images. The more time you invest in this part of the photography process, the better you’ll get at understanding what techniques work and which ones can lead to blurry, grainy, or poorly exposed photos.
Plus, over time, you’ll have a better grasp of the capabilities of post-processing. For instance, you can remove unwanted objects from a scene with the Healing Brush, but you can’t save every single photo with Photoshop. All of this knowledge is a vital form of feedback on your actual skill of composing and capturing images in-camera. Use and apply that to take better initial shots, move around and experiment with angles and lighting to give yourself more options in batch editing, and so on.
Sometimes, post-processing can be left to the pros. But when you’re trying to get better at photography as a personal artistic endeavor, you’ll be doing yourself a great favor by taking the time to review and experiment with editing your images. You will learn more about what makes a successful image both in front of and behind the camera.