Finding Your Editing Style


“Find your editing style.”

Phrases like that used to and still do make me cringe and send a little shiver down my spine. You either know you haven’t or, even worse, feel you have and are then paranoid that you might be wrong. If there are two things I know about “finding your style” in editing it’s that:

  1. It isn’t something that you “find”. This isn’t shopping at the grocery and you just swing by the editing aisle and snatch up a style you like and move on from there.

  2. Finding “your style” is a journey that borders on an exploratory expedition. Think of it like your Lewis & Clark adventure into editing. You aren’t entirely sure where you are going, but seem to have a general idea of what you are wanting.

If you are like me, the idea of just feeling around and taking your time to find “your style” is disturbing and stressful. However, like all things in photography, the more you attempt to rush it, the more you will veer off your course.

Photography, and the editing that follows, is your work of art. Say it with me “I create art”. Art is ever changing and the only limitation exists within your head. Art is also a series of trials and errors. There is no way to avoid it. Don’t think of those errors as mistakes. Think of them as arrows that are pointing you in the direction you want to be traveling.

Of course I will not end the story here. Just to show you that the struggle is indeed real. Let’s take a little peek at my ongoing expedition in editing.


I call this my action phase. I didn’t really know how to do too many things in Photoshop and those before and after images that they preview with the action sets were gorgeous. To me that meant that if I got the actions, my images would look just like those. The problem? If I didn’t know how to do anything in Photoshop then how was I going to adjust the actions on my image? I also apparently had not learned how to identify color casts in images as my son has quite the yellow sheen to him.

tpe2015Now we are on to the confusion phase. I knew how to do SO much more in Photoshop, but I just didn’t know how to take my images to the next level. What was I missing to really knock my own socks off? Compositionally there was connection in this shot, but my editing job did nothing to enhance that connection and really draw you in even more to capitalize on that connection. This is probably the most frustrating phase to be in. You know enough to not make the same mistakes that you have in the past, but still lack enough information that you don’t know how to get yourself out of the corner you are stuck in.


This is the fireworks phase. In this phase you are prone to fist pumping the air, moon walking, and possibly doing the running man because your light bulb has been lit and you may blow a fuse from how bright it is. You almost feel like a super hero because while you are shooting you can see exactly what you need to do while you edit the image. Your mind knows what is possible and not possible in post processing. The exhilaration you feel when you envision something in your mind and then are able to create that in real life is addicting. This is when you realize that the only thing that limits you in creating art is YOU! You will arrive here. I cannot tell you how long it will take and the journey may be hard and frustrating. I CAN tell you that when you do arrive you will look back at your portfolio of work and realize that it was totally and completely worth it. So have no fear, try new things, and use those new experiences to continue to evolve your editing style and take yourself to new and amazing places!

Want to read more about editing? Check out Brooke Snow’s post on “Editing….what I have learned.”

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Meagan Opel

Meagan is a wife, mother of three, animal hoarder, and passionate photographer. She hates wearing shoes, loves Murder She Wrote, and is starting an adventure in dutch oven cooking.

She started down the road of photography with a gentle push from her husband and hasn’t looked back. She loves being able to capture those “real life” moments that can slip by in the blink of an eye. Like most photographers with kids, Meagan became fascinated (obsessed) with photographing her children from second she laid eyes on them, and loves helping others hone their photography skills to better capture their own children.

Meagan is our instructor for Get Grounded in Photoshop, and is also our official Operations Queen. She keeps everyone organized, scheduled, and on track with blogging, Happy Hour, Extra Credit, communication, customer service, and anything else that keeps TPE operating on a day to day basis just for you!

When she isn’t working for TPE, running her own business, or running after her own three small kiddos she enjoys being outdoors, cooking, spending time with her animals, and swimming.