Most Common Photo Editing Mistakes And How to create more Timeless Presets


MOST COMMON PHOTO EDITING MISTAKES // As photographers, we’re obsessed with editing. Partly because we enjoy making our photos look amazing (duh!) and partly because we are never satisfied and we’re always on the hunt for next the preset, style, trend or technique.

I get it, all we want is just to come up with our own unique style and hopefully a timeless preset, that’s gonna solve all our editing troubles. But sometimes we get so lost in our own presets and sliders and settings and split toning and curves that we end up with a complete mess. Here are some common photo editing mistakes we all should try to avoid.

1. Mimicking someone else’s editing style or preset

In the world obsessed with celebrities and Instagram trends, it’s so easy to fall in love with someone else’s style that makes you want to re-edit your entire portfolio. But spending energy on mimicking someone else’s shooting and editing decisions will fail on the long run unless you also have the same light, same gear, same locations and most importantly, same editing tendencies. So just stop before it’s too late and people will start recognizing you for a style that is not even yours. However, looking at other people’s work can help you figure out what you like and what attracts your attention. For example, are you usually impressed with darker, grittier photos? Or you always save and screenshot brighter and softer images?

lightroom mistakes photographers do when editing

2. Too timeless or not timeless enough

The word “timeless” is thrown around like a #liveauthetic hashtag. But what does it mean? You definitely want to edit for a future viewer and not just for your current instagram feed so you should avoid some super weird editing trends that will eventually “fade” away (get it?).

But be too gentle and you’ll only end up with perfectly digital looking images that won’t really survive the test of time either, because they’ll look too clean and digital and sort of unreal. I personally don’t mind slightly more aggressive edits that can add to the mood of the image. That, for me, is more timeless.

example of timeless editing and timeless preset

3. Not cleaning the mess

I’m not a big fan of retouching. But sometimes you can make a good image look great with just few simple adjustments. One minute of a Lightroom’s healing tool torture and the image will look much cleaner. Here are two examples of what happens when you clean the mess around. You don’t really need to do this every single time but sometimes it can really add to the image.

Click the image to see the difference.

4. Comparing Before and After too often

It’s so tempting to constantly switch between the original RAW image and the photo you’re editing. Lightroom even has a shortcut for that. But in my experience this can affect your editing tendencies and not in a good way. I noticed I get better results when I don’t see the RAW version of my image ever (unless I’m working on new presets). This makes me more focused on the final look and not just the changes I’ve made. But hey, I totally get it, who doesn’t love some good before/afters. Here’s one for you as we speak.

just click the image to switch between before and after. Edited with LKO.

5. Inconsistency

This one is pretty obvious but consistency is still something most photographers struggle with. Being consistent is not just about using the same preset (although it helps), it’s also about how bright or dark you tend to expose and what type of light you prefer because that affects colors of your photos the most. If you mostly shoot backlit photos and edit them the same way as your sunset photos, chances are your editing’s going to be all over the place. If nothing else, the overall brightness, saturation and temperature of your photos should be somewhat consistent across the board. My favorite little trick is to always add warm color to highlights. This way, most of my photos feel a bit warm even if they were shot in different locations.

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