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Keep It Natural

It’s very easy to get overwhelmed on buying your first camera and going bonkers! Add few tricks on photoshop and you might get buried by regret in later years when you open the photo library for a nostalgic walk down the memory lane.

From my personal experience over the years, I have prepared a list of things I should have avoided, and have successfully avoided too, during my learning days.

For illustration purpose, I am using the same pic for every example. For the last two points, I don't even want to share example. We have all come across them ;)

1.Black and White photography

Everything looks great in B/W. There is that nostalgic and romantic feeling attached to black and white photographs. But don’t just click anything random, convert it to black and white, put your water mark on them and call it an art. Please stop! You draw the eyes of the viewer completely to your subject clearing all distractions including colours. So keep in mind the sacrifice of letting go colours. A black and white photo should have a strong story to tell (if at all you want your photography to the next level)

My take is, if you want to take a B/W photo, don’t make the decision in the post processing. Plan ahead and imagine how your photo will look in b/w even before you hit the click button.

2. HDR (High Dynamic Range) effect

HDR is a great technique to capture all the details from your subject, keeping your foreground as well as background sharp and well exposed. It brings out details which are not easily available when shooting normally. But, when you put that fake HDR effect preset/filter in the post production, it makes the shot really ugly and unpleasant to even have a look at it. Avoid the effect at all cost. The effect just flattens your image, makes it too sharp and contrasty with weird colour placement.

3. Vignette

Vignette is actually a distortion caused by the lens which makes the corner darker. As a photographer, the first thing I do when I import my photographs in editing software is, getting rid of them. Sometimes, it is advisable to add vignetting to photos when you think it is a must to direct the viewer’s eyes to the main subject specially with darker background. But applying this in every picture of yours is not at all recommended. These are traits of a beginner photographer, get over it as soon as you can.

4. Cross Processing

"Cross processing was a bad idea when it came out and it still is.” Retain the natural colours of your photos as much as possible.

5. Saturation and Contrast

You can spot a noob, right when you look at the contrast and saturation level of the photos. Nature didn’t over saturate or gave extreme contrast to your surrounding, so why would you? Few comments I have received on my photos, saying my shots lack colour and contrast. What they actually mean is that I didn’t saturate my photos. Do you ever notice doing to someone’s house and watch a movie on their TV sets and wonder why the movie looks like a tv serial? This is because the sharpness, contrast and vibrance have all been shot up. If you notice the movie mode in the same TV, you will see the same three parameters calmed down to give it more cinematic look. Apply the same rule to your photos and you will get that pleasant looking cinematic photographs. But play gently with these, do not do extreme .

6. Trending Style

(image source:

Every couple of years comes a new trend in photography. Be it emphasis on few selective colour grading or particular angle of a shot. One creative mind starts make an extraordinary edit and boom, everyone starts that. Remember duck-face and pouts? They have either faded away or on the verge of getting lost in time leaving behind some embarrassing ‘fb memories’. Remember, trends are temporary. Same goes with the cross processing, use of teal and orange, blue and purple hue to your every shot. They are not going to last another year.

7. Photoshopping

What are you looking forward to become? A photographer or a photo-manipulator?

Almost every photo you see out there has gone through editing, be it simple cropping to high level surreal photo manipulation that you see in fine art photography. I am using photoshop as a broader term and not just an editing software by adobe. I use photoshop everyday, mostly to retouch skin and get rid of any unwanted distractions in the photo that I capture. I, in particular hate changing background and replace it with stock background. Like old school photographer, I believe in doing everything in camera. I’d rather prefer being on location for a shot than later manipulating it in photoshop. I have come across photos where background has been edited away. They look hilarious. I agree, many will not have the privilege to actually shoot in the location of their choice, but then please make sure you are really good at editing. Your clients might not find out the difference but other photographers will.

8. Fake blurry background

In order to imitate that DSLR's background blur, you will find lot of free apps for your phones. Even some phones come with this inbuilt. This silly effect doesn't impress anyone, anymore; rather makes you a troll subject among your social media friends.

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