There is More to Photography Than Just Taking the Photo

I have taught a wide variety of photography workshops over the years and often have heard from photographers who wonder why their photos are not as good as the many images they see on the Internet.   The answer lies in two areas, and if you disregard either, your photography results will suffer.

  • #1 Master your camera skills so you get the best image possible in-camera. That means ensuring it is properly exposed and focused, and that the shutter speed was well chosen.  Actually there is a long list of things that you have to be aware of, but just know that you will do best to really get to know your camera first. Start out by doing the best you possibly can when creating the image.  BUT, that’s only part of the challenge…
  • #2 Post-Processing:  Once you have created the photograph, there is usually something you need to do with the image to enhance it.  That was certainly true back in the days of film.  How you processed and printed the image in the darkroom was of critical importance to produce the best shot. Ansel Adams most definitely understood this importance. The same is true today, but instead of a darkroom, you use computer software to process our images.  Programs like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop can and SHOULD take your image to the next level. You really don’t want to ignore this part of the process.  The term often used today is “post-processing”.

Here’s an example image, as shot in camera:

Unprocessed Image

With Adobe Lightroom, I just did a few quick edits to:

  • Increase the brightness just a little bit with the “exposure” setting
  • Darkened down the highlights slightly
  • Lightened up the shadows a bit
  • Increase the saturation a little bit
  • Increased the “clarity” a little bit

And here is the result after about one minute of editing:

After Editing

Also, some photographs might be better converted to black and white.  Try that out and see which you like best.

Black & White Option

The bottom line is that you really should learn how to edit and enhance your photos. Photography in the digital age is a mix of camera skills and software skills.  Both are necessary.  It’s really a lot of fun.

Oh, and one other thing… As you become more skilled in your photo editing skills, you might want to go back and look over photographs you shot in the past!  Some of the images you skipped over, thinking they weren’t any good, may actually just need a little photo editing to make them wonderful!  As your skills improve, you will find all sorts of new ways to make great images.

Kevin Gourley

Kevin's book "30 Practical Tips for Better Photographs" is available in print and on Kindle devices!

Kevin Gourley Photography Workshops, Austin, TX – Austin Photography Classes