“What? You don’t edit your photos?!”
Only a biased photographer would say that. I think it’s fine to not edit your photos. Not editing your photo is not a blasphemy. In this article I’ll explore some of the cases when you do not need to edit your photos.
If you take a photo of your family and you want to catch them in the moment, enjoying life, present them as is — there’s no real need to edit them. Professional or social media photos are tailored to be the best-looking photos out there — spend your precious editing hours on these.
Well, they are tailored to be enjoyed by the masses. Those models that you see in magazines are not always real. They are still humans, and humans are not flawless in their appearances. Such photos go through heavy editing to reduce unappealing features such as pimples, acne, stretch marks, etc. That is the biggest reason they look picture perfect.
It is fine to have unedited photos — there is no shame in it. A nostalgic family photo should accurately picture how it was. There is no need for unnaturally flawless models in your gallery or family album.
This also applies to goofy/candid photos. Not all photos should use a certain pose — candid photos capture more of a story than your usual “3, 2, 1, cheese.”
Candid photos are often taken without the subject being aware, giving them a unique element. Without them knowing, they will create a natural (not posed) appearance.
These photos are … special. Sometimes they simply capture the current atmosphere as it is. With your friends or family members enjoying their time at the beach without realizing they are photographed, it will certainly look more appealing and bring back more memories.
It is what it is.
As the name implies, practice photos are taken while practicing. Regardless of your experience in photography, you should know that nobody can out edit a bad photo. Photoshop, Lightroom and those presets you use … they can only do so much.
Photographers should be capable of capturing good photos that follow certain principles. There is a decent amount of flexibility to use or to not use them. Certain styles of photos are better with some principles, while some are not.
Your practice or experimentation photos should not undergo heavy post-processing or edits, unless you are experimenting with some trending or new editing styles. To accurately track your progress, showing how your styles and color palette change or develops over time.
Most professional photographs give their clients a contract, which explains their terms and conditions. These contracts detail how you can use their photos and how you should not use them. The situation when clients edit a finished photo for non-personal uses such as posting on social media, flyers, etc. can be displeasing to the photographer. Photographers dislike this action because it is very misleading for potential new clients.
Photographers want to be acknowledged by their unique style, techniques and editing style. Their “identity” drastically changes if you tamper with their photos. Giving people the assumption that a wedding photographer focuses on gothic style rather than romantic weddings may negatively impact their career.
Unless the photographer is OK with you editing their photos, do not edit them.
But editing is OK … right?
To some degree, editing is fine. Maybe you want a perfect family portrait as a piece of nostalgia. Maybe you want your practice photos to look better with photoshop and edits. Maybe, after consulting with your photographer, they will be OK with you tampering with their photos.
Those photos will not serve their purpose and become counter-productive. This topic is heavily influenced by each person’s ideology, and not all people think the same.
The choice is in your hands to choose which to edit, and which you should not.