A picture is worth a thousand words, it’s cheesy, I know, but it’s true. As a blogger one of the most important things you can have is a well-planned out visual aesthetic. We’ve heard the millennial hipsters talk about their “insta aesthetic” but that’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is pictures creating pictures that impact your story. They not only create impact but they move the reader along in your writing. As the American Journal Institute states “Major enterprise stories — stories that take deep dives and attempt to inform readers in substantive ways or to elicit impact — these are the types of stories that encourage readers to move beyond binary and dogmatic thinking about local, national and world events.”
Words can be harsh and impersonal, no matter how eloquently you write. A picture can tell your story on a whole new level of communication. They can convey things that our languages fail to capture, things like grief, compassion, or dedication. This has more to do than the editing itself. I can’t say this enough, editing can’t make a bad picture good. It can only enhance what’s already there. For example:
But what makes a picture “good”? As Oliver Reichenstein once said, “Good design is when I see it.” A “good” picture is easy to see the same way a “bad” picture sticks out like a sore thumb or a misspelled word. With every creator, you are going to find a different of creating “good” things. However, there are some standards of portrait photography you can play around with, click here for more. I prefer either soft, wrapped light, or playing around with shadows in more Rembrandt styles of lighting similar to these picture of Morgan.
Another aspect to point out is that having this picture in color really impacts the composition. The warmth of the sun and her eyes would have been lost in a black and white image. As a creator, it is important to know when to use what and that comes with practice! Morgan has had the same haircut since she was born (almost literally) but her hairstyle has become a microcosm of who she is and I wanted to capture it. I love this photo because I think her personality is evident even though you only see a small part of her.
I can’t say this enough but editing cannot replace good photographing but in can assist you as you compile a cohesive look for your post or site. Check out my visual essay, “Little Fighter, Big Hit”, for an example! It’s about this little girl, Jaylyn, who trains in boxing.
I know what you’re thinking, “I can’t edit pictures like that! Photoshop is expensive and confusing! I tried the free trial and ended up in tears!” Trust me, I know those tear on a personal level. Photoshop is big and scary if you have never used it before. I can completely relate to the frustrating feeling of simply want to crop a picture! You’ve watched hundreds of Youtubes and have read tons of articles about how to make a zebra walk on a beach! Photoshop is a wonderful tool but to get you thinking about your picture’s light, contrast, and shadows, I recommend downloading the VSCO app. However, you have to promise me not to only use the pre-set filters. Play around with the levels and see what kind of ambiance you can make with your photo.
My personal process of editing is pretty minimal. I like to take more time in setting up a picture than editing it. However, touch ups usually begin with highlights. You don’t want your highlights to be so bright that you lose detail. Once the light has been decided you move to the dark side. Similar to the light, you don’t want the shadows to cover up the detail or weigh down the photo! Next, comes contrast, which makes the darkness more black and the highlights more white. Usually, that’s my last step, it’s pretty simple! Click Here for more reading and examples. If you want some serious editing than definitely invest the time to figure out the ins and outs of Photoshop!
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING is that you photograph what you’re interested in or find a new angle on something that is uninteresting. Photography is all about light and angles. So go shed some light on dark corners or look at something in a way that no one else would. This world isn’t eye level so get down and dirty and you just might find something worth looking at.