I have now been editing photos for quite a while now, only as a month or two since learning Photoshop but Lightroom I've been using for around a year now, the former being a far more intensive and complicated piece of software and the latter being simpler but overall the one I use the most. I have been now using Photoshop more and more, and even today have spent a considerable amount of time on Photoshop editing a couple of photos.
On here I shall post some before and after photos using both Photoshop and Lightroom. It's probably not best to get used to this, I do not like showing others except a few of my closest friends photos taken before the edited version has been finished. The reason for this, it detracts somewhat from the experience of viewing the final image, but could also add to the experience, hence in this post I want to show what can be done (with basic understanding of the two software). The detraction from the image is two-fold, the viewing of the former image always means the second will be viewed differently (can be positively or negatively) and the second way is, especially for model-shoots a person may be uncomfortable with the look of an image (briefly images should be taken darker because you can lighten an image in post- but cannot darken an image once overexposed) and they don't see the way the image will look when done and can't see how it can be changed somewhat (such as hair in front of their eyes or lots of other minor details, but I stand by leaving major things unchanged). I am definitely not Photoshop crazy when it comes to model-shoots but I know from some experience that this changes VERY dramatically when wedding photography is involved.
Overall to summarise, I would say, minor (relative, because you can make minor edits that make major differences to an image) edits can mostly be done in Lightroom, while Photoshop can do the same edits in addition to a plethora of others that I have far from even 1% come close to understanding.
In recently learning Photoshop, an indeed very complicated piece of software, one thing I like about it, and is interesting whenever I go onto it for edits is that it's a learning curve each time. I would liken it to (what I think) coding is like, or from my own experience of trying to formulate complicated Excel formulas, where I now know some basic things I can do with the editing software, and from this you can combine and mix the different tools, techniques, rules and formats to create almost anything you could think of, and this is merely in photo editing and not complete artistic creation if I were so talented at drawing (hence I am looking to collaborate with someone who is - shameless plug).
Onto the main topic of this blogpost, I would like to address how editing has changed a lot about how I see photographs, I would liken it to seeing the behind-the-scenes of a movie you like. To start, I used to hate editing, it was a chore to get out of the way, and I still don't spend much time editing apart from photos where I have more of a specific vision in mind. This being said, it has changed over time, it allows a good photo to be changed or improved; the mood, story, lighting, season, time of day feelings all to be changed or tweaked. A bad photo can also be edited to be better or to be completely 'saved' from the scrapheap. Now I have been editing for quite a while I have found looking at any photo or even landscape with merely my eyes I am seeing a photo and I can imagine how I would edit the scene, changing the highlights, vibrance or contrast. I have not really been able to look at another photo since without this analysis.
While especially with photos that businesses use I see more clearly how sloppy they have become with the idea of many businesses and many people in general (having talked to photographers of different types about this) saying that there is no point spending money on a person to take photos when we all have good phone cameras. To briefly weigh in on this point from a rather neutral position (not being a paid photographer, but also totally valuing the democratisation of photography, as I myself started only using my phone for around 5 months, if not longer). I would say, for casual images, or mere images to remember an occasion such as a holiday picture of going out with friends then of course the phone is portable, more useful, multi-purpose and serves the required purpose totally. However, if one's intention is to create a nice piece of work whether for artwork, a special occasion like a wedding, or for an attractive bit of commercial PR then as with any task, someone who has practiced and has skill with the endeavour probably would be best found and utilised. In a similar way I myself have access to WebMD among other sites but would not diagnose myself or another for an important health issue (and maybe use it only to calm nerves or curiosity) because I haven't trained or had the experience as a doctor, in a similar way photography is a skill like any of the arts, but I would argue is the one that has degraded most in the modern age due to a widespread and its ease (not a complaint, again, I value highly the democratisation that has allowed my access to the art, and additionally, I like the art form because of it's 'ease', I cannot draw, but other artistic skills such as editing and composition I have found I can do to some degree).
Even if a friend shows me a photo, or anyone actually, and I somewhat dislike this, but I look at the photo and in my mind pops forth ways I would edit the shadows, change this or that. I never mention unless I was asked (which I haven't been, and kind of hope not to be - I would be uncomfortable seemingly imposing on another like that). It still occurs though, I do not think it totally bad, but it has positive and negative aspects, I have mentioned some negative aspects. As for some positive, it is good practice for my photography, it is fun problem-solving (for the lack of a better word). It is also interesting to see 'behind' a photo somewhat, to see processes within it, and even with edited photos trying to retro-edit the photos and dissect them.
It's something that has totally, and unexpectedly changed the way I see things, like many ways that photography has for me.
One 'game'(?) I have thought of, just now as I finish writing this, and it isn't a way to see who's seen this article haha, is if anyone would like you can send me a photo or 2 to edit when I get chance and on FB I can post the before and after as a little game, exercise for myself and maybe to try and demonstrate that anyone can do it. A camera shooting RAW means you can edit more (as it stores more data) but a phone camera's JPEG files can also be edited significantly. I am also thinking of doing some walkthroughs of my editing/photography workflow on my YouTube Channel Beauty In Normalcy. Feel free to comment if any of this is of interest, although I may do it anyway for myself either way.