Facebook Pixel Warning: 10 Deadly Post Processing Sins

Warning: 10 Deadly Post Processing Sins

Picture 80First of all, I have to thank Darren, and this wonderful DPS community for supporting our family through the illness and death of our son. We are deeply and profoundly grateful to each of you. THANK YOU. Not really a way to segue from that. I won’t try. 🙂

This post is all in the name of good fun. These are over the top SNL esque examples. Please don’t be offended.

1. Don’t buy photoshop right out of the gate.

Nothing concerns me more than “photographers” who delve into photoshop around the same time they delve into photography. These are what we call “photoshopographers.” I’m certain I didn’t invent the term. It floats around the industry like crazy. For example, “How’s her work?” Response: “She a photoshopographer.”

If you jump into photoshop (or any other editing software for that matter) too soon, you run the risk of not mastering your technique as a photographer. You’ll quickly form the habit of masking otherwise poor work with excessive editing and that will hold you back from learning the proper technique to begin with. As I once heard photographer extraordinairre Zack Arias say, “If you find yourself out shooting a client and you’re sayin’ in your head ‘oh I’ll just fix that later in photoshop’ stop what you’re doing and slap yourself as hard as you can.'”

I didn’t purchase photoshop until after 2 solid years of paid work as a photographer, and I still don’t know how to use it. Truth be told, it’s literally embarrassing how very little I know.

2. Processing fads rhyme with “stay away for the love of all that is holy.”

Picture 78

One of my main qualms with post processing is the color fads. These could be tonal, selective color (more on him later) or any et cetera. Anything that will likely not be popular in 5 or 10 (likely 1 or 2 in reality) years should be avoided. My goal for my work is timelessness. If an image is processed in a way that says: “wow! that was shot in 2009!” I’ve got a problem.’

Some of these things MIGHT be appropriate in moderation (not selective color. ever).

If wild tones are your selling points to clients and you’re booking well and getting paid bucketloads. . . then there’s obviously no reason to rethink your strategy! But as a general rule, if you’re going to do anything with tone: LOW OPACITY is the rule of thumb.

3. Radioactive eyes are so last season/

Picture 81

4. Skin should not look like it was grafted from Barbie, Ken, or Skipper.

I’m all for giving eyes a little pop-o-la! But let’s try to keep it real. No one’s eyes are PERFECTLY white, nor do they emit a glow in a dark room.

Quite frankly, pictures with eyes that are over worked: creep.me.out.

I’m happy to touch up people’s blemishes, but there are certain features of someone’s face that are permanent. Part of who they are.

For regular portraiture (I recognize that fashion work is a different animal entirely), I would never completely remove someone’s wrinkles (unless they asked specifically that I do). Soften them? Probably. But remove them completely? No. It’s their face. It’s what they look like. Moles? Same story. Scars? Same, same. You know, you could actually offend someone by removing a “blemish” like a scar or a mole from their body. Unless they ASK (and trust me, if they want it gone, they will), I don’t go there.

In my work I’m going for real and genuine, and plastic skin? Well, it’s neither.

5. A heavy vignette does not a professional photograph make.

Picture 73

A heavy vignette does not make a photograph look more professional. (Tail between my legs) I used to think so too.

The opposite is in fact true. Ask any TRUE professional photographer and they will tell you, a heavy vignette is a sure fire sign of an amateur trying to go pro.

6. Just say “NO” to over saturation.

No image necessary. . . Just.say.no.

7. Selective coloring died circa 1990.

Picture 77

I know I mentioned it above, but it definitely necessitates its own category. The picture says it all.

PS. Tell me you’ve read Twilight?

8. Don’t make your clients look dead.

Picture 79

It’s disgusting.

9. Fake Sunflare . . . looks fake. and stupid.

Picture 75

I’m not going to lie, I’ve enhanced sunflare before (many moons ago) when IT WAS ALREADY PRESENT IN THE PHOTOGRAPH to begin with. But don’t take a picture WITHOUT it and try to ADD it in. It makes you look like a ding dong.

10. Textures? I’ve only ever seen a hand full of photographers who can really pull them off.

Picture 74

I am hesitant to include this last one because I am a huge fan of several photographers who create lovely work with textures. Textures can be cool, BUT an image should never be blatantly SLAMMED with texture. Bleh.

Disclaimer: Don’t hate me. These are obviously EXTREME examples. Everything has it’s place in moderation. This post is truly just a satire. Me poking fun at and industry to which I belong, and that I love.

I recognize that post processing is incredibly individual. For a lot of people, what happens in post is an extension of their art. Hold on to what makes sense to you artistically! By all means. I would NEVER want to discourage someone from creating their art! Really, these are simply things I personally WISH I would have thought of going in. I’m guilty of many of them myself. A lot of my older work is embarrassing to me because I broke some of these very rules early on.

Don’t be ashamed if you’re doing some of the stuff listed above! ANY true pro you love and respect was likely guilty of much of the same early in their careers! And again and again and again: if it truly floats your boat?! Who the heck am I to stand in your way!!!!??? Selective color on my friend selective color on!

Happy Shooting! . . . and processing!

Read more from our Post Production category

Natalie Norton
Natalie Norton

is a writer and a lifestyle wedding and portrait photographer who shoots across the globe. She is based off of the North Shore of Oahu and out of Gilbert, Arizona. Enjoy more of her photography and writing at www.natalienortonblog.com. You can also connect with Natalie via Twitter or on Facebook.

Some Older Comments