How much editing should I use in my photographs? Or how much can I? Anything along those lines… man the number of times I have been asked this far outweighs any other question I have been asked. I would say “Are You in Bridesmaids” is in a close second with “How the heck do I say your last name” in third. Let’s all get on the same page here – there isn’t a correct answer. My goal with this blog isn’t to push a correct answer. Just to talk about the subject and discuss the reasons behind everyone’s reasoning. This way we can all learn together and then decided for ourselves.
Your Thoughts On Editing
So, what makes sense for what we are doing? So I asked the question on Twitter because I think that is what the network is best for – starting the discussion.
Do you spot edit live music photography? for example, remove lights, light stands, iphones etc – or even add things? What’s your vibe— Adam Elmakias (@elmakias) November 27, 2019
Here are some of the responses to represent the variety of responses I got from the music photographer community.
Always depends on the situation, but for my portfolio/personal use I have no issues cloning stuff out or doing whatever I need to do to make the image its strongest. If it’s being submitted for editorial use, then I’ll follow journalistic standards and only do basic toning.— Brad Moore (@bmoorevisuals) November 27, 2019
I doubled up those spotlights just cause I thought it looked cool sometimes I add things for symmetry as long as it doesn’t detract from the main focus. pic.twitter.com/zUikLce3HX— Johnny Costa (@isahermit) November 27, 2019
Only if it’s something I think is distracting pic.twitter.com/5GR3KsaJRz— Nathan (@nateamsheppard) November 27, 2019
Journalism background here, so I only do minimal editing to enhancd the image but I don’t remove anything. pic.twitter.com/9lzfn9kcxL— Katy Rogers (@KatyChemical) November 28, 2019
Love it all. Now how do you decide what is best for you? Well, personally – I draw all my choices from my goals. So what goals determine something as simple as how much do I edit my images? Well, I know it’s a simple question. But the answer is quite important. After all, it affects your work severely. Taking the photo can often only be half the equation with images these days. Some people, myself included – might even verge on the edge of photo manipulation. Take this image of Florence And The Machine for example.
That Is A Lot Of Editing You Might Say
…and you, my friend – would be absolutely 100% without a doubt – correct. This is the most severe example I could find. I rarely tweak it this much. But to me nothing else that is going on around her matters.
Anyway goals. I like to think to myself – what the heck is my goal as a photographer, what do I value? As we see in the above tweet responses – for some it is to correctly depict what was happening at the time – which means to not edit the photo at all. I am a bit more relaxed on how much editing I use – and as you can see in the twitter responses, some share this view.
My goal as a photographer is to tell a story by making a photograph that simultaneously authentic and precise to a degree that I like to think of like math. To be authentic means I am not changing the moment. However I do change a lot of things I feel get in the way of the moment, or that mess up my math. This means if someone is playing a show on stage, I am not going to relocate them to the beach. Even if it would be warmer and more comfortable. But I will get rid of all distractions. I want you to look at the photograph I make and see exactly what I want you to see. No room for confusion.
I recently photographed a 5 Seconds Of Summer concert. I think the images closely align with the goals I have just shared. I was able to shoot this show exactly how I wanted to shoot it. They hired me, because of my style – so I shot my style.
You know, I have never been able to photograph them before. I know the guys, I know their photographer, I know their videographer. I love everything about them. I am a sucker for catchy pop/rock music. I also love how much they love what they do. It is and was a pleasure to photograph. I tweeted a while ago that if anyone wants me to come to a concert with them – I would. Lucky for me, Andy and Ryan are two of the nicest and most welcoming people. They had me out to shot 5 Seconds of Summer with them.
You can learn a lot by watching someone who has been with a band for over a year, photograph a band. They know everything. They even know when they take their water breaks. This was was nothing short of an amazing experience.
The Edited Photographs
Anyway, most of my images aren’t spot edited that much. This is a good example of average editing for me. To me, editing should never be visible or distracting. It should be just enough to make it better, but not make you fumble?
Well, that is all I got. As always, let me know if you have any questions. Feel free to join the conversation on Twitter. I would love to hear from you.