As a photographer, we have two major cards to play to make our work stand out from the crowd: The way we take our pictures and the way we edit them. These approaches combined determine our very own style. Here are two tips to help you create and reproduce your signature look in post-processing.
Whether you are a landscape, portrait, architecture or food photographer, you have your own signature, like a fingerprint. That’s the way people recognize your work simply by looking at it, before even knowing who did the shot. It’s your look.
A look is based on your perception, experience, taste and artistic approach. And just like any artist, your style evolves with experience and experimentation.
Think about any great painter, singer or writer. They evolve as they learned to master their craft month after month, year after year. Just looking at the pictures you did a year ago — if you haven’t yet! — will make you realize how far you’ve come.
Tip 1: Explore to create your style
As a very artistic person myself, this is by far my favorite part of the process. For this step, you’ll need editing software. For the best results, I strongly recommend using RAW files. If you’re not familiar with your camera’s file format, head to this article.
Open an image you like and go to the edit panel (the example shown below is done in Luminar 4). Now is the time to explore and try all kinds of things. You’ll notice very fast which looks you like the most and which aren’t your cup of tea. You’ll also realize a look can be kind of useless for a certain type of image but a total game-changer for another type.
There will be multiple styles to choose from and various ways to integrate into your image. Some tools are powered with Artificial Intelligence (like the AI Accent, AI Sky Replacement and AI Skin Enhancer). These might be the only ones you’ll need to use as they are doing a great job by themselves. You’ll be able to choose the intensity for each one of them (from 1-100) and play with sliders to enhance certain areas and boost your looks.
The goal here is to have fun. You can make your editing as simple or as complex as you want it to be. The intuitive workspace will require a minimum amount of time to get used to it if you are discovering the software for the first time.
The ultimate goal is to find the combination of looks to create your own signature style. And here’s the good news …
Tip 2: Save your look — and save time
Once you’re happy with the look you’ve just created, you can save it! Once a look is saved, there are three very cool things you can do with it:
- Apply it to all the images you want to in the future — this will help you achieve a constant overall signature style on your work.
- Save big time. Next time you’ll open an image, you’ll click on your look and 95% of the job will already be done.
- Tweak it. ALL of it. ANYTIME. You’ll always be free to go back to the tools and tweak them as little or as much as you want for specific needs.
Free extra tips
- You don’t have to stick to a SINGLE look. A style that looks great for your portraiture might not be the best one for your landscapes. Create as many looks as you like and save them into your own gallery for a future instant makeover.
- Use batch processing to automatically apply your favorite look to dozens or hundreds of images. I use it all the time for my sporting events.
- Not feeling inspired, need a little kick or just in a hurry? Head to the “Looks Collection,” pick the category that suits the most your image and try dozens of styles instantly. You’ll be able to use it as is or as a starting point and change the settings to your liking.
This technique will evolve with you as you grow. You will be free to recreate your signature look in a few seconds and mix things up when you feel like changing your routine to try different styles.
I hope these little tips got you inspired to play and have fun in your post-processing workflow.