Timeless Never Goes Out of Style

Trends come and go, and people are often drawn to trends. I believe that photography is something that should be able to exist beyond a current trend.

Photography is both an art and a science. Technology is continually evolving, creating increasing expectations for quality. The art side of photography depends much more on style preferences. Style preferences change over time, and the creativity of the photographer should be evident in a portrait.

Most experienced photographers will have a consistent style to their work, which typically takes a few years to develop. Style is based in the photography itself (posing, location, direction, composition, lighting, etc.) and also in the editing or post-processing. Trends often dictate whether or not a particular style or look is desired. As I have been part of the professional photography industry since 2011, I’ve seen style trends change a few times across various genres of photography. I even followed some of these trends myself, but later disliked what I did, and always ended up keeping to a more timeless and natural editing style.

When I tried out a few of the popular editing trends, I just didn’t feel right about how it changed the photo so much from how everything actually looked that day. Choosing to not follow a popular current trend is tough in this industry, because with like anything new and different, trends become desirable. But as a photographer, I feel that part of my job is to preserve something, whether it be how the sun was shining that day or the color of someone’s dress. It doesn’t feel right to me to drastically alter these elements. While clothing and hairstyles will inevitably give some reference to the time period the photo was taken, I don’t want the editing to “date” my work in a few years. A photograph will hang on a wall or appear in an album for decades or longer.

 

Here are a few popular editing trends today:

  • Timeless and natural: Colors, tones, and lighting generally look true to life. There is usually a good range of light to dark. This does not mean the photo is unedited!
  • Dark and moody: Greens are desaturated, sometimes even to a grayish-green. Orange tones, such as those in skin, are often intensified and darkened. Highlights/whites are pulled down and can sometimes appear “muddy.” Contrast and grain are sometimes added. This style is said to mimic old film photos that have changed over time.
  • Light an airy: Overall exposure is brighter with less contrast and texture in the light areas of the image. Greens are often soft and “minty” in appearance. Skin tones may be referred to as “creamy” where they are smooth and less saturated with color. This is another film emulation style.
  • Matte and vibrant: Shadows and blacks take on a low-contrast matte appearance, often with the introduction of more vibrant jewel color tones such as blue or violet. This style is very whimsical, and is particularly popular in children’s portraiture.

There are both extremes and more subtle versions of each editing style, and these are not the only editing styles used by photographers today.

 

Example 1:

Example 2:

 

I consider my editing style to be very timeless. I make it a point to maintain the colors and lighting so that the photos look true-to-life and natural. I want my work to accurately portray the day and location of the session. Of course, I’m biased towards this style. I believe that the other editing styles have a time and place where they look good. I would hope that clients choose a photographer with the consideration of their style, whatever that may be.

 

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.