Chances are, if you’re a photographer, you’ve thought about your editing style. Perhaps you’ve worked hard to develop one, or you’re still in the process of it, but today I want to share some tips and tricks to achieve your consistent photo editing style.
But first of all we need to discuss why editing style matters.
Simply put, consistent editing means you have a clear aesthetic and style from shoot to shoot and client to client. And it’s important because consistent edits build brand recognition. That feeling potential clients get when they scroll past your Instagram post, and know it’s you without ever seeing your handle! That’s the goal!
Editing style is also important because it builds trust.
When clients look through your portfolio or sample galleries and see that they are all edited the same, they feel confident knowing what their images will look like as well. They know and like your style, they trust that their images will be the same. Don’t underestimate just how important that is in the booking process.
The flip side of that trust is that couples might not book you because they are unsure of what they’ll get. If you have some galleries that are dark and moody, while others are film-like and true to life…how do they know what their images will look like in the end? It makes it really hard to invest in you, and trust you.
One time I had a couple come to me after ending their contract with their original photographer for this reason. They shot their engagement session and the edits were inconsistent and many were different from the body of work they had seen. It made them nervous for the wedding day, so they canceled the contract and found a new photographer with consistent work.
So let’s dive into the nitty-gritty. What elements impact a consistent aesthetic?
I look at four main elements in an image to determine consistency of editing style:
- Overall style/exposure – light and airy, dark and moody, bold and saturated, etc
- Overall Temperature/tint – warm or cool
- Skin tones – more pink, peach, yellow, neutral, etc
- Greens – minty, yellow, desaturated, bold
You need to know your preferences for each of these 4 buckets and keep them in mind every time you edit in order to achieve a consistent look and have a barometer to check yourself against. They are the foundation of your editing style and big changes to one of these categories will result in discrepancies in the consistency of your body of work. And remember: our future clients rely on our consistency to build trust when they hire us.
There are a few ways I recommend getting more consistent and developing your own aesthetic:
- If you haven’t already – sit down and create a style-profile for yourself that addresses all four areas we talked about before: overall style, temperature/tint, skin tone, greens
- Start shooting fully manual. From Kelvin to aperture, manual gives you full control of consistency from the moment you click the shutter button. If shooting in manual is a big step, this free pocket guide breaks it down for you HERE.
Also, don’t forget about the importance of Kelvin! Its white balance is magic for editing consistency. You can find more info in the pocket guide, but the first step to nailing Kelvin consistently is to turn off those kitchen lights and lamps indoors if you can, so that you’re shooting in a single light temperature. And practice taking the extra minute to really dial in your settings.
We can feel rushed at a session or on a wedding day to just jump right in – but it’s worth taking an extra minute to dial in settings. You’ll be surprised at the massive impact this has on editing consistency in post-processing.
- Importing into Lightroom. Lightroom is much faster than photoshop at this point in the process. Use it to apply a personal preset on import that includes: Basic edits to exposure, contrast, profile correction, grain, basic adjustment for your greens, and any preset or profile you use. Once you know your aesthetic preferences, there will be some adjustments you’ll make to virtually every image. So creating a personal preset that will automatically apply those edits is a big time saver and gives you a solid consistent foundation to fine tune from. And there are SO many good presets out there you can use as well, but my favorites are The Archetype Process and Goodlight.
- And last but not least, editing. Pull up a sample/anchor image from each scenario to edit the rest – pull it up in Reference View (R/A), and refer back to it as you edit the other images. That way you can look and see thé consistency between images and feel confident you are delivering a gallery full of consistent editing to your client.
I hope this blog post helps you find your stride with your editing style. As photographer’s our work is central to what we do, and it’s so important to show authority and reliability in our images so our potential, ideal clients feel nothing but confidence in hiring us!