It’s a cliché to say that everyone is a photographer in this modern age.
Although there is a shard of truth in that and everyone now has the ability to take images, to me, everyone is not a photographer.
To me, you can call yourself a photographer if you spend the time and energy to post process your image. The act of creating an image is a two part process – this is true in the digital era, and this was true in the film era too.
Because everyone can take images, how do you stand out?
If you were standing in front of a rampaging Icelandic waterfall in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by other tourists in exactly the same spot, with very similar image capturing devices, shooting very similar angles, how do you make your images different?
For me, this is the line where craft and meaning converge and the creation becomes the art. People can spend a bunch of money to travel to the same places and take the same shots, but in the end, it’s your editing style that gives the most volume to speaking your uniqueness. Sidebar: I know this isn’t true for all styles of photography, but it is for most.
Now, I’m not talking about digital art or manipulation – bendy vertical roads and flipped skylines. I’m not talking about surrealism masquerading as reality. I don’t do that stuff, although I understand and empathise with the decisions of those who do. But there’s a different foundational meaning to digital art, and in many cases, it doesn’t apply to pure photography or what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the craft and dedication and the hours and hours deliberating on the micro decisions you have to make sitting behind something like Lightroom or Snapseed.
There’s a process behind the art of the edit. Not only are you imposing your creative will on an exposure, at the same time, you’re also teaching yourself good taste. You’re building your style. You’re self-critiquing your compositions and taking mental notes for next time you’re in the field. The edit is more than the colour grade – it’s the decisions you make to improve on yourself. Progress.
Want to know how to stand out in a sea of decent photographers just like you?
Turn the art of the edit into your biggest strength.