As I mentioned a gazillion times before, we all make mistakes and we learn from them. But some mistakes are more common than others and they persist even though they’re “rookie mistakes.” In this video, Mitchell Kanashkevich draws your attention to them and gives you five tips that will help you to stop making them.
1. Pay attention to the tone curve
There are times when you want the extreme look and extreme contrast in your photos. But in most cases, moderation is the key. Extreme adjustments to the tone curve will make the photo look overdone and unrealistic, which is something you may want to avoid if you shoot travel, documentary, or street photography, to name a few genres. The tone curve adjustments bring us to the next tip: watch the saturation.
2. Watch the saturation
Adjusting the tone curve is already enough to increase the saturation and the vibrance of the image. This is why Mitchell advises you not to touch the Saturation and Vibrance sliders before you adjust the tone curve.
The color profile also determines how saturated your photo will be. So, don’t change Saturation and Vibrance before you choose it either.
3. Don’t overdo the eyes
Brightening the eyes is something we often see in portraits. While it can add to the portrait and make the “windows to the soul” stand out, people tend to overdo it and create “alien eyes.”
This is why Mitchell proposes two main rules when editing the eyes. First, always try to brighten only the darker part of the eye. And then, when you take a little break from editing, the second rule comes in: dial down the adjustments you’ve made. The changes will be subtle, but subtlety is much better than going overboard.
4. Avoid tweaking the sliders in Split Toning
If you want realistic results, you usually don’t need to touch the sliders under Split Toning. Also, if you’re just starting out or if you’re not too confident, it’s better not to fiddle too much with these.
Mitchell points this out because it seems to be popular nowadays. However, it’s a matter of a current trend, not something that will always help you tell the story with your image. If you want to add this look to your photos, that’s cool, but ask yourself why you want it. And this kind of brings us to the next tip.
5. Make references for when you’re editing
Make mental (or actual) notes how something felt when you were there or how you want the photo to feel. You can memorize it, but I always prefer writing things down in a notebook or phone. Then, when you start editing, revise your notes, and have these references in mind.
The way the scene feels when you’re there may seem obvious to you at that moment. However, it’s easy to forget it after shooting hundreds of photos and after some time passes.
Bonus tip: Surround yourself with the right visual influences
If you shoot documentary, lifestyle, or travel photos, Mitchell suggests getting inspiration from relevant sources. By this, he refers to documentary and real-life imagery that is “respected and accepted as actually being life-like.” Some of these sources are NatGeo, Magnum Photos, and Lensculture, to name a few.
At the same time, Mitchell wants to discourage you from looking at certain Instagram accounts. If you feel their work is over the top, it most likely is. The problem is that you may subconsciously accept it as relevant even though it isn’t. So, stick with the relevant influences and timeless images and find inspiration in them.