How to Create Consistency in Your Editing Style

editing, Photography

Nicole Hill

by

how to create consistency in your editing style

When I was first getting started with my photography journey, I thought that professional photographers knew some secret editing tactic that I didn’t. I’d see photos shot in mid-day sun and think “How the heck did they edit the skin so well?” “How the heck are the colors so seamless?” “How the heck does everything look so balanced and flawless?”

How the heck do I do that?

As I began learning and growing and evolving as a photographer, I quickly realized that editing wasn’t actually the secret ingredient to creating the photos I’d dreamt of.

The secret to creating those *goal* photos you have saved in your inspiration folder isn’t from using a flawless preset, or from editing at all. Don’t get me wrong, editing can definitely change an image for the better, but in reality, editing is only a small piece of the creative process. The real magic comes from what happens BEFORE you even sit down to edit. If you don’t have these crucial elements in place BEFORE you edit your images, you will struggle to create consistency in your photography.

And I know how frustrating it feels spending hours, days and weeks editing a session trying to get the images to flow. You sit down at your computer giddy and excited after your shoot, only to find yourself hours later on your 5th cup of coffee completely frustrated because the images aren’t looking how you imagined they would.

It’s the worst.

And if that’s happened to you, you might just be thinking about it the wrong way and I’m here to help.

Today I’m sharing 5 of the main secrets to ALWAYS being able to consistently create the look you want. And PS. these secrets have nothing to do with presets or editing at all. Instead, it’s all about knowing what you’re hoping to achieve BEFORE you ever capture your first shot… and then understanding how to create that look from behind the lens (not the computer)! 

Start by paying attention to the details

Every single photographer I know has a folder saved on their desktop filled with photos that have stopped them in their tracks. Finding inspiration from other creatives is amazing, but how can we take that inspiration and make it our own? If you ask me, the real magic can only be found when you look a little deeper. 

Let’s imagine that ever since you saw a spread in your favorite magazine, you’ve been dreaming of a light and airy spring shoot set amidst a field of wildflowers. Instead of simply finding a field and scheduling a date, sit down and really study the images that inspired you and ask yourself a few key questions. 

  1. What time of day did the shoot take place? If the photo you love was backlit at sunset, you won’t be able to replicate that same vibe at noon, no matter how good your presets or editing skills are. Where are the highlights and shadows? How can you position your subject with the same angles?
  2. How was the shoot styled? This is true about the actual look and the general feeling of the shoot. If they kept things light and airy in a white sundress, it would be hard to replicate the same feeling in a neon bucket hat & black jeans. Was this shoot super-styled and perfectly posed, or was it natural and effortless? 
  3. What colors are already in the shot? You may not be able to travel to the same spot, but you’ll have a much better chance of creating the vibe if you find a location with a similar color palette and scenery for your own session. 

Training your eyes to see the right things in a photo will put you on the fast track to creating a similar look in your next photo session.

Master the technical

If I had to guess, I’d bet the finished product of any gorgeous photo comes from 85% photography know-how and 15% editing. You just can’t edit something that wasn’t shot correctly – trust me, I’ve tried! If you want to gain the ability to replicate beautiful images, start by truly understanding the technical elements that go into it.

Focus on your Exposure

Finding that perfect exposure means – nothing’s blown out or hiding in the shadows. Finding that magic combo of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO will guarantee a flawless starting point. Without a perfect starting point, your editing process will be a struggle! I see a lot of photographers teaching other aspiring photographers that they should underexpose their images so they don’t blow out their highlights and I couldn’t disagree more. When you do this you are compromising your image quality, cameras love light and they’re going to perform best when they have enough light. So focus on exposing your images properly in order to get the best image quality possible. Make sure it’s not too blown out or too under exposed.

I know that photography terms can feel overwhelming in the beginning, so if you need to pause here and take a deep breath, do it. You are already worthy, long before you master manual mode or any other photography skill. You have potential to make a massive impact on the world with that camera in your hand! If you want some helpful technical breakdowns in your back pocket, you’re in luck. Here, Grab our free manual mode cheat sheet. As you’re learning, remember that there’s no pressure to know it all by the time your head hits the pillow tonight. Just keep showing up. You got this.

Create the perfect Composition in camera

This is a term that we read all the time, but I don’t see it defined too often. Here’s my take: composition is, simply put, the way you arrange the elements of your photo within your lens. There’s a ton of room for creativity here, but there are also some basic rules that will keep your photos consistent and professional. When you’re looking for a specific vibe in a photo, you’re probably looking for a specific composition even more than you’re looking for a specific edit or preset. Check out your inspo photo! What composition do you see – tight, wide, ¾, close-up? Learning how to recognize different compositions and capture them for yourself will take your photos to the next level real quick. And on that note try not to crop your photos to adjust your compositions when editing, try to capture them IN CAMERA. In camera means, when you’re shooting. When you crop your photo in editing you are reducing the image quality and a photo is ALWAYS going to have better quality and a more creamy depth of field when you get the composition right when shooting. So try and focus on taking some time to slow down and get those perfect compositions in camera.

Streamline your workflow

Something that will always get in the way of you creating consistency when you’re editing is your workflow. If you don’t have a consistent tried and true workflow and process that you go through every single time you sit down to edit you’re going to struggle to create that consistency you’re looking for. Start implementing specific processes when you go to edit, start creating organization in the way you go about your workflow. You will be so happy with how much it speeds up what you’re doing and also how much it improves your overall editing experience.


I hope these tips are helping you understand that editing is not the only place that the magic happens there is so much magic happening all along the way and it’s so important for us as photographers to truly understand that so that we can provide the best images to our clients and know exactly how to create any look that they’re asking for, every time.

Now if all of this feels overwhelming, you’re not alone. We are reopening the doors to The Photographer’s Path on March 2nd, if you want to find community, encouragement, and technical know-how to confidently achieve your dreams Grab a spot on the waitlist for The Photographer’s Path.

This course is a step-by-step guide to discovering who you’re meant to be as a photographer, mastering the technical skills to prepare you for a lasting professional career, and building your portfolio to win the clients you dream about.

I can’t wait to see all the beautiful work you’re about to put into the world and I can’t wait to watch your journey unfold.

ARE YOU READY?

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meet the photographer

HI! I'M NICOLE HILL

I've spent the last decade of my life traveling the world as a fashion photographer and I created Horizon Found to give you everything I wish I had when I was starting my career. Here you'll find community, inspiration, and education - to help guide you down the path towards building the photography business of your dreams. My dream is to use this platform to help build a supportive environment in the photography industry.

I'M HERE FOR YOU!

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The Photographer's Path is currently closed. Get on the waitlist to get early access and special bonuses not offered anywhere else!