Some say that being able to edit your photos is just as important, if not more important than being able to take them. Why is this? If you are planning on presenting your photography work in a series, or on a social media page, a consistent aesthetic is one of the most important things you can do to create the right emotional response in your viewer.

If someone is wandering through a gallery of your photos, there should be something that ties the images together. Of course, the subject matter plays an important part in creating this consistent feeling, but the color scheme, tone, and mood are also essential. Editing your photos to make sure the light produces the same level of warmth, the skin tones are consistent across images, and the other characteristics are balanced requires a meticulous eye and some technical skill. The following will explore the things you can do to edit your photos like a professional.

Start With Good Photos

This one should go without saying, but sadly it doesn’t. All the editing in the world isn’t going to improve upon a terrible photo. Make sure you understand the basics of composition at the minimum. As a general rule, you are also going to want to avoid having blown out images (caused by too much brightness) or images with far too much darkness in them. Editing programs are not able to turn complete white or complete black into a crisp image. You also cannot take something that is out of focus and get it in focus with an editing program. 

Understand Image Quality For Each Platform And Situation

When you’re working on a photo in an editing program you need to keep in mind what you plan to do with the image once you’re done. Each social media platform, website, and the live event has a different ideal resolution. You need to know how many pixels wide the image is going to be displayed at or what type of photo paper it’s going to be printed on. This will help you avoid putting in a ton of effort editing your photo to perfection, only to find that when the image is posted, it’s grainy, stretched, or discolored.

There are countless tutorials online that can teach you about the image requirements for any setting. For example, if you want to post your image on Instagram, search what the ideal image stats are for Instagram, and export your photo to those requirements in your editing program. Many programs let you save export settings, which will help you when you’re exporting multiple photos.

Less Is More

As a general rule, less touching up is better for professional-looking photos. People can inherently understand when an image is artificially boosted, and while a fake feeling can be good in certain contexts, for most situations an over-edited photo is the sign of an amateur. Take a look at some of the work from the highest-paid photographers from around the world. You’ll see what we mean. Most of these talented folk play with a few elements in editing, but maintain a life-like quality to their work.

One Size Does Not Fit All

You may be tempted to save the changes you made to one photo and apply the same editing to all of your images. Though most editing programs allow for this, it is a big mistake. Sure, you can create a preset and use it as a jumping-off point, but each image is going to require attention to the finer details. The lighting and shadows are going to be slightly different in each photo. Make sure you’re taking the time to tweak each photo individually. Ironically, a mass application of the same presets is going to result in images that don’t seem to match each other. 

Avoid Standardized Presets And Filters

Similar to the above point, it is wise to avoid using other people’s presets or the filters provided by editing programs and social media apps. This is because those who are really into photography can recognize that you used a certain feature. Always tweak a little bit more using your own eye. This will help you create images that are unique to you, which is one of the most impressive parts of photography.

With the above tips, you are well on your way to developing your photo editing skills. As with any art form, editing photos takes time and diligent practice to master. Take your time, and be sure to practice with images that are drastically different, so you can gain a better understanding of what each element can do within a single image.