Photography isn’t always just about the ability to head out into the wild and snap photos in real-time. Much of the work is done behind the scenes and that is where the real magic happens. A lot of the impressive photography you see had to go through plenty of work to get it to the point where it was seen by the public, so it’s good to know how editing plays a part.
Not only is editing important for making photos better looking in a fundamental aspect, but it’s also how people have learned to become more creative and flex their ideas in ways that the camera couldn’t capture. Some techniques have become so ingrained in photography, like double exposures, that they’re features on cameras now.
Being able to maximize your creativity to get the most out of your editing is crucial to growing your skills. If you need some tips on how to be more cinematically creative with your editing, then check these out.
1. Use Preset Filters
Some people love them, some people bemoan them, but it’s impossible to deny that preset filters can give you some excellent, cinema-Esque vibes to your photos. There are a lot of brands and photographers who have spent countless hours doing trial and error for their photo editing only to come up with a filter that looks amazing. They then decide to create more like it and build packs that feature plenty of their presets that allow others to create flashy photography in an instant. But it’s a really good way that you can add a cinematic feeling to your photos quickly. This helps you spend more time focusing on the actual photo and not so much time on the editing portion.
2. Study Popular Photographer and Cinematographer Styles for Inspiration
There are countless famous photographers and cinematographers out there with their own unique styles of work. These styles have taken years or decades to cultivate, which makes them so important. The passion they have has allowed them to build this look that is recognizable and is so often copied or adapted for other people’s work. You shouldn’t try to plagiarize someone’s work because that isn’t in the spirit of creativity, but there’s nothing stopping you from using their work to learn more about what you like. Do you like the composition? The color grading? The format? Whatever it is that draws you to these styles, think long and hard about why they appeal to you to help find your unique style.
3. Find a Recurring Theme
You should also go back into your own works to find what you like and dislike about your material. The best solution is to do something similar to finding that inspiration from famous photographers or cinematographers. You should look for recurring themes in your work and material that you liked to shoot the best. Do you prefer wildlife? Do you like landscape? Maybe you’re more of a portrait person, but there are hints and clues as to what kind of material you should follow hidden everywhere within your work, it’s just about going back and doing your homework.
4. Go Back to the Basics
Photographers looking to find that creative spark also fall into the trap of trying to do too much. You shouldn’t take on a huge load trying to reinvent the wheel because it’s likely not going to happen unless you’re a once-in-a-lifetime artist, which you could very well be. Still, it takes time to discover your voice, your muse, or your natural tendencies so in the meantime, it’s not a bad idea to go back to the basics with your work. This means relearning the fundamentals of tonal shifts, curves, highlights, anything that you would have immediately brushed upon when you first started seriously getting into editing. It’s not easy finding a creative niche, but sometimes it helps to strip everything bare to rethink how you see things.
5. Experiment With Equipment
Another tip that really seems to come back to make photographers feel silly is that they need to de-comfort themselves from their favorite camera. You probably have one too, which is fine but you need to realize that it can only allow you to do as much as it can provide, which means you need to get familiar with more equipment. This means trying out new tripods, monopods, Steadicam rigs, new lenses, new UV filters, and especially lighting setups. The more you can experiment with, the more well-rounded a photographer or videographer you will get. The best cinematographers and photographers out there are not one-trick ponies and neither should you be. You need to really see what works and what doesn’t by becoming a swiss army knife of skill with equipment.
6. Black and White Never Fails
If all else fails, and it won’t, you should never discount the good old black and white look. For reasons that elude many who are into photography and cinema, regular folk doesn’t seem to care much for black and white. Maybe it’s that colors are bright and shiny to look at, maybe we’ve all been spoiled with 4K, HDR, etc., or maybe it’s just that not enough people are using black and white anymore, but whatever it is, it doesn’t make sense. Black and white was the staple for so long because it was the only film stock available, but it is so impactful for cinematic looks because of the sharp contrast between whites, blacks, highlights, lowlights, and shadows. Learn to use black and white more and you’ll either grow to love it or rekindle the spark with it.
Getting the cinematic look from photos in editing isn’t hard but it’s something that requires some patience. You don’t just begin as an editing genius and you don’t automatically have an eye for the creative side of editing. If you need some refresher tips, these should help you out.