How many landscape photos are stuck in your library, unfinished and unpublished? You’re not alone. 😩 Months or years after a trip, my library is still full of photos with great potential that I can’t seem to get right. On Fstoppers, we go in-depth on “editor’s block” and techniques to get photos out of creative ruts.
Editor’s block is tough to get past — it’s a form of creative block because post production is one of the most creative parts of the photography workflow. The longer a photo remains in this state, the harder it becomes for us to distance ourselves from the photo to find a new perspective.
So how do you get landscape photos out of post-production purgatory? 🔥 Most of the techniques focus on reestablishing objectivity: after all, we’re phenomenally good at critiquing another photographer’s work because we can empathize with an audience who has never seen the photo. Objectivity is not exactly an on/off switch, but there are ways to trick our brains into thinking we’re editing a new photo!
Several of these techniques are borrowed from traditional drawing media, but my favorite is inspired by annealing in metallurgy: randomly copy-paste settings from other edited photos! In blacksmithing, annealing refers to heating up a metal and slowly cooling it to produce a stronger result. The heat and controlled cooling allows the metal atoms to move around freely (at random) before slowly settling into the strongest formation.
In photography, we are essentially searching for the best looking edit by modifying curves, contrast and many other sliders. With “simulated annealing,” you start editing by making completely random jumps to discover possible artistic directions, but over time focus on optimizing the better directions. When you’re stuck, you just need to make random jumps again. It’s surprisingly effective in blacksmithing… and post production!
So if you’re stuck editing the same photo and can't seem to figure out an edit that works, here are nine powerful techniques to get out of editor's block. ✨
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