How To Maintain a Consistent Editing Style

Develop your own photo editing style to set your images apart with these simple tips.

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Do you ever feel that your images are all over the map regarding your editing style? You’re not alone, my friend.

One significant difference between highly seasoned photographers and beginners is the overall level of consistency in their post-production processes. Clean, seamless Instagram feeds, and portfolio galleries make for one helluva presentation. It speaks volumes to the testaments of one’s work. Most visionary experts go through a wonky editing phase, so don’t take it personally. Below are six tips every photographer should follow for maximizing editing tools to help foster an unchanging, recognizable style.

Tip 1: Set Aside Playtime

If  you do not already have a strong editing style, it’s easy to get carried away and apply whatever the heck comes to your mind. It’s best to experiment with each editing tool (curves, HSL, split toning, shadows, highlights, etc.) and see what sorts of implemented tools you like best. Learn how various actions and presets impact your images -- what makes them moody, vibrant, warm, or cool? Select your favorite editing app to get started like Lightroom or VSCO, or pick one of our favorites.

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Tip 2: Define What You Want Your Editing Style To Be

This one might seem blatantly obvious, but it's imperative to streamline your efforts on what exactly it is you want out of the creative process. Focus your energy on your long-term, artistic goals and ask yourself what you want your viewers to recognize when they look at your work. If you like bright, airy, natural images then run like the wind with that sensation. If you want your vibe to be more edgy or offbeat, then be as gritty as you can be. Have confidence in your ability to tell a story with color and saturation. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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Tip 3: Pick 3 - 5 Presets And Stick With It

Most editing software and apps have a series of presets users can choose from to edit their images. If you’re extra fancy, you can purchase presets or filters from your favorite photographers or cross-use filters from one app to another -- like VSCO to Lightroom. Whatever kinds of presets or filters you like to use, select no more than five to bounce back and forth when editing a series of photographs. Not that you want every image to be a direct clone of one another but when editing a full session, there should undoubtedly be an underlying look or feel to the full gallery. Adjust the brightness, HSL, saturation, and contrast according to each picture’s composition and lighting.

Once you discover a formula that works, stick with it.

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Tip 4: Find The Light That Works Best and Run Like the Wind

Much of your success in editing comes from the birth of the project itself -- how well you first established the idea will considerably affect your ability to edit the picture. For example, it will be difficult to convey a bright, natural, vibrant portrait when you shoot dark subject matter during strange hours of the night. You can only push the brightness on the photo so much until the picture becomes virtually ruined. Photographers who aim to shoot airy, warm images shoot during sunrise or sunset to produce a natural glow. For visual storytellers who wish to appear edgier, maybe an urban backdrop during the blue hour is your best fit. External lighting matters significantly to your editing.

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Tip 5: Use Apps like UNUM For A Uniform Instagram Feed

If you’re looking to find cohesiveness in your Instagram feed, try using similar apps to UNUM (available in the Apple Store for FREE) to review what your feed will look like with future images / posts. This serves as a wonderful practice to getting to know what sorts of colors look best together in a gallery format. You might think aesthetic blog admins just have an amazingly artistic eye, but for many, the UNUM app is what helps them achieve the flawless feed layout.


Tip 6: Patience, Patience, PATIENCE

We get it. “Have patience” is something you see blasted on the back of a cereal box or something your teacher tells you during your first piano lesson. But, guess what? Your cereal box and teacher are correct. All good things in life take time -- slow, ambiguous, vulnerable time. As an artist, it’s imperative to allow your growth run organically. Your look will not evolve under a single editing session, but rather under years of hard, intentional work curated for an audience.

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All in all, accumulating consistency in post-production takes valuable time. Practice ‘till your fingers bleed (metaphorically speaking, of course!). Streamline your energy into finding what works best for YOU by creating playtime in your favorite editing apps and tools.

Happy shooting, my friends.

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