How To Edit Your Photos

I just read a photography article titled, “What Are You Trying To Say Here?” and it reminded me of the adage, “A picture really is worth a thousand words.”

So what are you trying to say with each image you make?

Only you know. What I know is that the easiest way to get into trouble when you edit your images, is to “read” things into them that aren’t there. You know what you were trying to capture when you made the photograph so it’s natural to look at your image and see that even if it isn’t there.

Ok jeez. This isn’t a big deal right? Well it is if you are using the photographs for advertising. Even if you are only posting grab shots on Facebook, think about the impact on your viewer before posting and ask yourself these important questions.

Does the animal look relaxed? Are the ears back? Is the stance correct? Is the animal well groomed? A No to any of these questions is a red flag for an advertising image. Equally important is the emotional feel of the image. What does the expression on your subject’s face convey?

I’m bored. I’m angry. I’m anxious. I’m relaxed. I’m having fun.

If you do a careful edit of each image you make, you won’t overlook something negative that will be very obvious to the viewer. Try training your eye by making it into a game like those pictures in magazines where you have to compare two pictures that look identical at first glance. Only they aren’t. There are a number of subtle differences that can only be discovered by looking closely.

You need to be  totally objective when you do this exercise. Pretend you are not the creator of the image and pretend you are looking at someone else’s work. Be critical. What do you see?

As always, it is easier to explore the concept with photographs. Let’s look at two sets of images that are almost the same. See if you can figure out why one of the images in each set works and the other one doesn’t.

Here are the first two.

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We all read things into photographs.  Look at the boy’s face (what you can see of it). Can you see that in the second photo he has a smile on his face and in the first one, he doesn’t? Which one “translates” best as a photo of a boy feeding his cow?

Here’s another one.

Hey you nailed it this time, right? The expression on the girl’s face in the top photo is entirely different than the one above.

Once you begin to really study your images, you will automatically pick up on little differences like these that make or break a photo.

Good shooting.


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