EDIT FOR SHOOTING STYLE
Learn to view your approach to shooting and editing as interconnected processes
An often forgotten aspect of developing a reliable editing process is the need to build this around your approach to shooting images in the field. If a photographer attempts to edit an image in a way that visually contradicts the look and feel of the content of a photograph, this can create an uncomfortable mismatch, which makes their artistic intent unclear. Shooting approach in this context refers to a preference for longer or shorter exposures, brighter or darker frames, focal length choice, shooting angle and so on. All of these facets define the digital information present in the outputted file, which must be appreciated when deciding how best to handle this data in software. If, for example, a photographer prefers lower-contrast scenes, such as those under overcast natural light, then it makes little sense for them to make extensive global boosts to contrast. Similarly, should a landscape photographer favour shooting in misty conditions, in order to capture delicate colours, it is not advisable that they add a large amount of saturation, for risk of breaking the tones of the image. The dissonant relationship that these processing techniques have with the scenes to which they are being applied limits the attractiveness of the final image, but also the adaptability of the style to others in a portfolio.
File format is another consideration – while it is advisable to shoot RAW images, especially if you have the long-term intention to apply significant processing, some photographers may have to shoot JPEGs, such as wedding or sports professionals, who require large image bursts at high frame rates. Editing with this in mind will help refine your process and reduce file damage, due to over-editing of the ‘lossy’ format. It can be useful to learn to shoot with the final edit pre-visualised, as this will ensure you have captured enough tones to work with later; however, during the process of devising a style, use your shooting preferences as a reference. Observe your choice of white balance and base further colour adjustments on strengthening that bias. Then consider the balance of shadows and highlights – begin by darkening or brightening images with shadow or highlight dominance respectively, pushing your camera work choices to the extremes, to see if that produces the end product you envisioned.