Editing. A word that is able to spark joy and make you cringe at the same time. Even if you love the editing process, I’m sure you’ve had a rocky relationship with it as some point in your photography journey. Don’t lie to me.
I genuinely enjoy the editing process. I love viewing a shoot for the first time and hand picking my favorites. I love seeing how they look after I fine tune them and I especially love typing up my delivery email to clients!
As with just about everything else in this thing called life, there are ups and downs meaning editing isn’t always this easy breezy beautiful. As a photographer who is still rocking her baby years in the industry, it’s taken me a this whole time (as in since I said, Hey, I’m going to do this photography thing for real) to get a grasp on my editing style. I had to really dig deep to figure out who I am as an artist, which turns out isn’t all that different from who I am as a person. Shocker, right?
Seriously, the more I thought about this (and the more I started to envy those perfectly curated Instagram feeds) I realized I cannot be the only one in this space of her photography journey, which means there’s probably some of you who need some truth spoken into you, just like I did.
I know you’ve heard this before, maybe even so much so that you’re rolling your eyes at me saying it, but it’s important! There are way, way too many variables between you and other artists to be comparing your work. A huge factor is artistic style – You can’t compare bright and airy to dark and moody. Both are good, they both are just different. The artist you’re looking at may have been doing this for years, whereas you are just starting out. Different equipment may have been used. I could go on! If you catch yourself starting to down your work every time you hop onto social media, that’s a key sign that it may be time for a break (which, in my opinion, is necessary anyway). Your work is a reflection of who you are and you are unique! Just like there will be another you on this earth, your work will never be exactly identical to someone else’s. Stop putting unrealistic expectations on yourself!
As my homegirl, Jenna Kutcher, would say, “stressed work isn’t our best work”. Don’t rush your creative growth! It truly takes time to find your style and to really get familiar with it. There are no deadlines on when you need to have a style set. I did photography on the side for two years before going full time at the end of last year and I just began to uncover a style that I’m comfortable being consistent with this week. You have to try different styles in order to learn what you like and what you don’t like. You’re not going to lose clients because they see your editing styles change as you grow, especially in the beginning stages, and they’re not going to be turned off because your Insta grid isn’t aesthetic enough. Have fun with the process and keep an open mind! When you’re not stressing about not having everything perfectly put together (is that even a real thing?), you’re more creative and your work turns out better, which may lead you to finding your style more quickly. *wink*
I have read articles written by photographers as well as personally watched as editing styles have evolved as they grow into their talent. This is natural and even expected! You’re not going to be the same artist ten years from now as you are today. You’re going to learn more, grow within your industry, and try so many new things which usually leads to your style being tweaked over time. Karthika Gupta wrote in her article for Digital Photography School about how she used to prefer bright and airy images, though now she finds herself gravitating more towards the darker and moody edits. Though your style won’t change as frequently as it may have in your rookie years, it can still change and there are no rules against it!
You may have heard that consistency is key, but consistency doesn’t develop overnight. Don’t be afraid to experiment to find your style. Then once you find one that you know reflects your personality within your work, one that clients will look at and know who the photographer is before seeing your name attached to it, your consistency (and aesthetic!) will come together. You have to really have confidence in yourself, no matter what stage you’re in and trust in the creative process. Listen to me when I tell you that YOU, my creative friend, are doing an awesome job. Don’t give up. Good things are coming.