Photography might be seen as a skill that takes hours in the wild to master, but it’s also about how much you can do in the editing phase that makes a huge difference in your end results. Just like abs aren’t made in the gym, they’re made in the kitchen, if you can learn to be a more skilled editor, you can be a better photographer.
Thankfully, learning to edit isn’t as hard as crunching out reps in the gym, but it does take the same level of dedication and willingness to learn the skills of the programs to become better. Here are some practical types that can help you enhance your photo editing skills in simple ways.
Learn to Use Keyboard Shortcuts
If you’ve ever used Word, Excel, any kind of productivity suite, or general keystroke function on a computer, you’ve probably learned a handful of keyboard shortcuts. These are also present in learning photo editing because they serve the same function. Copy and paste shortcuts are available just like in typing to help you make the process fast, the same thing goes for undo and redo actions. Knowing the keyboard shortcuts of a program is something that you should learn quickly to help make you a more efficient editor.
Figure Out How to Use Common Editing Tools
Histograms, charts, exposure settings, layering, all of these are very common editing tools, and all of them will be useful as you learn to expand your skills. Beyond that, you’ll want to learn centering text, resizing, temperature and color adjusting, curves and levels, and sharpening. There are plenty more that are basic or common tools to use so the best thing to do is to fire up your favorite editing program and start messing around with the most easily found tools to start seeing what they do. When you start to learn their basic purpose, it starts to become more clear on how to implement them.
Develop a Faster Workflow
Going back to the point about keyboard shortcuts, you’re going to need to get more efficient. It can take time to learn how to edit fast because you never want to speed through it and mess up, but the best photographers all have a solid workflow. Your workflow comes down to how much you can get done in a set amount of time.
If you take 20 minutes to edit one photo, that slows down the entire process, so think about having to do 20 minutes X 50 photos. You want to learn the layout of your program, set everything up in a way that feels natural and pin or prioritize the important tools you use to make it more accessible for you.
Utilize Presets for Helpful Photo Stylizing
Some people swear by them, others bemoan their use in photography, but there’s no denying how helpful presets can be. Just like a filter on Instagram, a good preset can be easily applied to any photo to make it pop or stylize it in a way that is aesthetically pleasing but also incredibly fast. Again, it’s not for everyone and you don’t want to end up curating plenty of content that looks similar to other people’s work, but using a preset can reduce your editing woes quickly.
Learn On Different Editing Programs
It doesn’t matter if you’re loyal to Lightroom and Photoshop, or if you prefer GIMP or Paintshop Pro, what matters is that you can be comfortable knowing your way around enough programs that you are skilled in a lot of regards. Most programs are relatively close in features, with the paid software suites having a much more robust range of options, so it’s not hard to get the hang of it. It’s good to have a favorite or go to, but if you ever need to use someone else’s software, you won’t feel like a fish out of water.
Master the Exporting of Photos
As a final piece of editing advice, the logistics of exporting your work is a crucial skill that is often overlooked. You don’t want to export a photo set for print and it has a paltry DPI that leaves it pixelated or lacking resolution, so you want to really dig deep into the qualities that each exporting setting offers. This ties into the workflow, but more importantly, you want the hard work of the editing to show up in the final export of the content as well.
Being great at photography is certainly about your ability to capture the right image at the right moment, but it also has a lot to do with your ability to produce good content after the fact. Learning to edit is easy when you have simple tips to use, and those you’ve seen here will help you.