I am sure I am going to catch a lot of heat for this, but I am totally of the opinion that most photo editing trends are just a way to cover up bad photography.
I was thrilled to learn that ‘no edit’ edits are coming back into popularity. Why? Well, as is usually the case with trends, there is a backlash and audiences/viewers seek a more natural and ‘true to life’ look in content.
Photo Editing Trends Come and Go
In my twenty plus years as a photographer, I have seen three major photo editing trends in wedding photography alone.
The first, and most awful, was selective coloring. Luckily for me, this was really on the way out of popularity when I first got into the business.
The next wave was VINTAGE photo edits, making digital pictures look like they were shot on film.
Currently we have two overlapping trends: color grading and “dark & moody” vs. “light & airy.”
I also see a lot of combinations of color grading with one of those two styles.
Dark & Moody VS. Light & Airy
Each of these particular styles finds ways to compensate for badly exposed images.
“Dark & Moody” photo edits cover up underexposed images by creating a matte look and pulling details out of the shadows of a picture, giving all of the pictures a bit of a faded, semi-vintage look.
On the other hand, “Light & Airy” photo edits cover up overexposed images by giving the entire image a blown-out feel. No details in the highlights? No problem!
Color Grading Pros and Cons
Color grading originally started out in video and film. It is a way of making footage shot at different times and locations appear cohesive as well as applying and overall style or ‘look’ to the piece.
So, making all pieces of a film look the same makes sense, but why would you want to color grade your photos?
I can understand that color grading a particular project makes total sense, making the series of pictures part of a distinct set. Anywhere you want all of the photos to have the same feel this would be an appropriate thing to do. For example, you might want to color grade all the photos in a commercial project.
But why would you want to color grade your entire portfolio the same way? Because that is what a lot of photographers are doing to create an ‘aesthetically pleasing’ social media feed, particularly on Instagram.
Loss of Individuality & Creativity
The main problem with these types of photo editing styles is that they make all of your photos look the same.
You may be trying to create a pleasing ‘color palette’ for your Instagram feed, but lets talk about the down sides of that.
First, a color palette for your social media profile only comes into play when someone looks directly at your profile.
Second, if all your pictures have the exact same look, as time goes by, people are going to tire of that look. I have followed the feeds of photographers who take absolutely stunning photos, but their pictures just sort of fade into the background of my feeds.
Finally, be forward thinking! What are you going to do when trends change in a few years? Are you going to go back and re-grade all of your images? Are you going to just bounce from trend to trend?
Remember your potential clients, do they want their photos to follow the current trends, or will they appreciate a more timeless look?
It can totally depend on the type of photography you do and who your clients are, but it is definitely something you need to consider.
What do you think?
But, who knows? Maybe I am totally off.
I know that some people are going to disagree. Then again, I have been running a profitable photography business for 20 years…
And, before you blow up on me, please remember, I am not saying that there isn’t a place for these types of edits. What I am saying is that if you just edit all of your photos the same way, eventually your clients are going to feel like their photos look like everyone else’s photos.