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Q&A: Q&A: Editing

Lesson 32 from: The Ultimate Photo Storytelling Workshop

Finn Beales

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Lesson Info

32. Q&A: Q&A: Editing

Learn how Finn approaches editing, grading, color theory, and developing a style for you photography.

Lesson Info

Q&A: Q&A: Editing

Thanks again for sitting down with me. You're welcome, Alex. I know the shoot went pretty well, pretty stoked. Yeah, stoked, stoked is not a word I used often. (chuckles), are you stoked now? But in this case I'm stoked. It was fun. And it all came together in the end, it's great. We get pretty sunny conditions, the whole thing. I mean, a lot of things went really well. The light here is something special. I think there's something about this Portuguese coast, something about the dust and the air. If there's riches, is that because we're west? Cause you live west. I live on the west, but I certainly don't get light like this, so yeah. Happy. It's been good seeing you work. Yeah. Are you're happy? You looked happy. I was itching to shoot some of these photos and I couldn't. (both laughing) It's getting all the photos. Now, I was just preparing all these questions. So, I mean, I've seen you edit in the past and I wanna have conversation with you on your edits. O...

kay. I got a couple things I've noticed that are find really interesting actually. And I wanna ask you about them, acquire. Easy questions, difficult questions, a lot. So first is really high level, is there's many ways to answer it. But how do you approach editing. As in color grading or editing? The whole process, how do you approach it? Not how you do it, 'cause we've seen that in the past, but what's your vision on editing? My vision for the edit will be driven by the client. So I will always dig into the backstory of my client. That will influence my color grading. And your selects and everything? No, I'll have a good idea of where I want my story to go. I think I've discussed it in some of the theory modules. I might have like my beginning scene in my head, my middle scene in my head, my end scene in my head. So I know of the basic art of the narrative. So that's gonna inform my edit and that's gonna inform the way I shoot. I'm shooting for that edit. Does that make sense? Yeah, I like that you have your three points. My three anchors? Then you connect them all, yeah yeah. And then I join the dots in between, so I use these like transitional shots. So like fill in the gaps. And then for color grading, whenever you just sit down there, what goes through your mind? Well, I've already started work on the color grade within the mood board section. That was pretty good, yeah. Based on previous images. I've never seen that it's impressive. So I know essentially where I'm gonna go with it. As in like tonally? Yes the tones, yeah you pick them with the color. Yeah, that was great. So I'll build a preset off the back of that. So you build a preset literally? Yeah. For the whole shoot? Yeah. That you might use after or just one time wonder. Sometimes one time wonder, sometimes I'll, Do you keep them? Yeah, I do. Okay. Just continue. Yeah, I do. And I think I'm gonna offer some little down, little freebie in the download section. I think it's some presets. I think, yeah I'll offer the preset for this shoot in the download section. It's really great for this sort of lighting conditions. Just big sun and this dust. Big sun, But like the, I think it would make sense to offer it because it shows the pallet that I've been working with this like rich sort of faded brands and these sort of like lovely turquoise. (indistinct) then people can construct it, yeah. Yeah, and they can use it in their own. Well, good kind on the same page. But moving on this question cause I get it a lot. I'm sure you get it. Is, should a photographer or creative have an editing style? Cause people talk about that style all the time. Yeah. Should you have an editing style as a creator? Yes, I think so. Well, yes and no. Yeah, cause you I've heard you say no. That's why it's like. Yes and no. Yes and no, okay. If I'm looking so that, Instagram as a platform. Yes, I think it'll pay dividends to have cohesive editing style. So I know you are well known for your like blues and your faded blacks and that looks really lovely in the grid. Yeah, I've always aimed to have Something recognizable, but even if I ends up on the internet. I kind of wanna see that. Yeah. I want people to be like, oh this is, this could be Alex, this is Alex. I mean, at least that's (indistinct) right on there. And I agree with that, but if I'm shooting for a specific client, they're gonna have their own style as well. But they're famous. This is interesting then because. An example is a serial magazine, very clean, minimal imagery, Like yeah. I know the creative director of that, which (indistinct) doesn't like people within his images, he wants like very clean skies. Doesn't like. Yeah, it's almost like the horizon lines here. And then the sky is 90% of the photo. Yeah, a lot of space, lot of Yeah. Feeling a fresh feeling. So I will shoot in that way for them. You know, and that. You adapt to that client. I would adapt to that client. That's interesting cause, Hundred percent. I think like referencing like mood boards, asking for mood boards from your client is a good first step. I usually do that. So I get an idea of what they want. But I feel like sometimes the mood board is just to establish the vision. Not the grade. Like for the shoot, like at least visually. Yeah, but that can encompass grade. Yeah, depending yeah, the quality of it, I guess. Yeah, sometimes mood boards just come from Google images and pretty bad. Yeah, sometimes they talent. (laughing) (both speakers speaking at the same time) Yeah. Such as rich, he's got a good vision of what he wants. Same, if I'm working for like a magazine, they, they are direct on that. They've got a great vision and they kind of know what they want. Usually the mood boards that come from Addie are taken from my own website. Yes. (both speaking at the same time) Just yeah (indistinct). So I'd say yes and no, but. So in what, so in the instance of thinking about only Instagram, you should have an editing style. Correct. So for your grid and then for your professional work, you shouldn't. Not necessarily shouldn't but you may need to adapt to your style according to your client. Yes, okay. So I guess then there's like kind like two camps is the influencer photographer. Who's the client adapts to them. Yes. And then there is the traditional commercial photographer who adapts to the client. Yes. You just gotta choose who you are. Who you might be at least. You can be both. You can be both, that's true. You can be both. You're both. You're the example of bot, yeah yeah. I am both. I mean, in some ways like a commercial advertising client might come to me for my style. And say, apply this. Keep it going. We love what you are doing. And what is that? How do you define your style there? If they said that, if you had to put it on paper, I know it's super difficult. I don't think it stops at the grade. I think it, for me, it's like relaying emotion through images. Like, so that sort of like close up details of like. Just kinda shortsighted to just think about the grade. I think so, yeah. This is wise because I think a lot of people stop at the grade. It's like, this is the grade, this is my style. You know, I bought these guys presets and then we're change them to make my own style. And that's it, people stop at that. So what the message is here is. Keep, well the message is adapt to your client in a commercial setting. And then for your personal work, what should be the advice? If you're not shooting for a client. In terms of grade? Yeah, yeah. Down to that. Cause a lot of people I know, struggle with grade. In terms of like differentiating from other people. Yeah. Yeah. How to build that taste. How do you build your taste? Do I have a taste? I think so. How would you describe my taste? Your taste has, well I mean I feel inspired. Yeah. Group nice greens, almost orange, blues a little more. I don't like, I'm surrounded by green. You know, I live in Wales is very wet Fed up with greens(chuckles). Yeah, done with green. Green works really well in a black and white sense. Cause you've got these sort of gradations of green. So you got these wonderful, like tonal differences. But in a color photograph it's quite hard to work with. It can be really overwhelming color. So I will tip my greens into that orange sphere. Almost like it's far. Yeah. Yeah. I like the (indistinct). And then that works really well with blue skies. So you get that, I guess this tips back to my days as a graphic designer, color wheel, looking at the color wheel. So complimentary colors, like opposite ends of the color wheel blue and orange. So that that's a definite feature. We Can, yeah, we can see that in your work. I think it's worth doing a bit of research on color wheels and which color palettes will work together and thinking about what dominant colors surround you in your environment. Your environment, yep. Yeah, and then you could choose like clothing colors that might work with that dominant color. You know, if you're in a city you're gonna (indistinct) a lot of gray. So you know. They can pop. Pop colors off the back of that. So I definitely choose wardrobe items depending on that. I mean like for the, I might watch you, I knew it was gonna predominantly blue. So I was looking at sort of like colors that would work with that. You could use like yellow oil skins or something. Yeah. Something like that. I think looking into color theory, it might seem a really dry topic, but it is a really nice. Is there any book or specific. Ah, Google it, just Google color theory. Start reading? Yeah. Online, I can probably put some like links in the PDF document. Yeah, the useful ones yeah. Can take people to that. But I think an understanding of the color wheel and what. Just paintings should help. I remember reading a book about paintings and framing and old paintings was useful. It was like framing theory in colors. It's a really old book. I gotta find it. I think it's very hard to just like open up Lightroom and go, right I'm gonna develop my style. You know. You develop by doing. You develop by doing, but you also develop by an understanding of color. Okay. You need to understand how color works and it'll shortcut you to developing your style, I think. Okay. But obviously it's playing around as well. Yeah, well playing around (indistinct). This leads me to my next question. It's, which is. I meet people who tell me, Hey, I've been trying to develop my editing style. What they should or shouldn't. But I've been trying to develop my own style, my own brand visually. But I feel like I try something for a month and the next month I'm trying something else. Cause I always feel like I want try something new. What you tell them is that healthy? Is that good for their work to have all these different colors on the website and different grades? No. Because you keep it, you adapt to a client. Sure, but when I look at your website, I don't see crazy differences. No. There are differences, but it's still within your taste. Yeah, yeah. I probably established an aesthetic. Yeah, that aesthetic. I would apply to. How can this person established they're own aesthetic? Well, it's all an experimentation process. Don't forget, I've been shooting for like 10 years. So you look at my early website. Our is probably all over the place. Which should be so (chuckles). I can probably, I could probably find an early iteration, of my website and show that. It think is makes me feel better. Well, yeah, totally. I mean, it was all over the shop. So time, experimentation, core theory. You got three there. Yeah. Also you don't have to put every shoot on your website. You know, I'm big believer in like sharing your best work. Right, experimenting private. We talked about that a couple of years ago. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Remember that? Did we? Yeah, yeah. About somebody. I can remember some videos that were put out there that weren't that good? Yeah. And I just said, oh, he's experimenting. You experimenting private. I thought it was good. Yeah, I think it's a really common mistake to just put up all of your work. That's why you wanna do though. When you start, you're like gotta fill up this website with something. Yeah. But it's a mistake because you're always gonna be judged on your worst piece of work. It's better to have five pictures on your website, five of your best pictures on your website than five of your best surrounded by 25 mediocre. Because they're gonna detract from your best work. I'd also advise like, I think we may have discussed this already, but honing your website towards the type of work that you wanna land. Yes, we talked a little, yeah. You want to create. Okay, should people use presets? Yeah, it's a good starting place. Starting place. Yeah. But I'm not a one click preset person. It's rare that I'll hit like a preset and it'll just work. Yeah, it's pretty rare. Yeah, it's. But you sometimes start with that? Yeah, for sure. But (indistinct) color vintage. Where you gonna go sit down at home? Are you gonna throw a preset from the past, then you're gonna tweak it or you can start fresh? I might do, I mean for this shoot, I had like a vision in my mind already. So I'd start. From your wood board? Yeah, so I was gonna start fresh. But you know, I've been working with Lightroom a long time, so kind of know how it works and, It's pretty quick, yeah. How color works. If you are new to it, you might start with like a vintage inspired VSCO preset. They have a whole ton of them. They do. You know, instant camera presets. Yep. You can start from there and just tweak accordingly. Okay. So what do you think of this whole selling preset creates? Hmm. Let's yeah. I don't love it. You don't? No, I think it, okay. There's different views, but I think it enables a lot of creators to make a living. Sure. Which I'm always happy about that if you know, they can make money doing that. Great. But at the same time, I feel like it's for somebody who buys it, it's also good, cause they can see how their fairy creators make their edits. But it's just, like you said a starting point. I agree with that. But what do you think of the whole thing? Yeah, all power to them for doing it. I don't know. Some people are making a whole ton of money out of it. But you're certainly good revenue stream. Yeah, but again, you download it and a preset. I find like presets that are designed by someone who operates in a certain location are gonna work much better on their pictures than they might on. Location based. Yeah, Like I'm like in Wales, it's always cloudy. It's always, the colors are always really muted. So if I download a preset of say someone who lives in Bali and try and apply those presets to my pictures, it's not gonna work. The bandana preset. Yeah. I'm it's not gonna work. So, but I think the VSCO is really good place to start. Actually. They're very. So with the film packs yeah. Yeah, they're very neutral. Like film packs. It's a good starting point to sort of move on from. Do you think we'll be forever in this film inspired period. What's next? Cause I remember in 2000, I don't know, eight five, the edits were pretty different. This film look wasn't that developed yet. I remember that. Do you think VSCO driven that then? I think it helped. But I remember Flicker days there wasn't that whole ton of that film things, it was more interesting. It was, but I think. HDR, you know, all these things like were there. Yeah, so how you ended up in this film era, which is, I mean I enjoy it, cause I have lot. I mean like you started shooting on film, but. Well I think for me, like digital cameras are so perfect and they can take really, It is perfect. And they can take a really sort digital photograph, yeah. So I guess what I'm trying to do. Make it worse (chuckles). Make it worse, yeah. It's a funny thing. It's ironic in a way, like I spend all my time degrading the image. Take that sharpness down (chuckles). Yeah, but putting sort of inconsistencies into the image, I think that's what actually makes it really interesting in the same way that you know, people are imperfect. Yeah. I, you know, you listen to music, digital music. I sometimes find a little bit boring. You miss the, You listen to someone like playing a guitar around a campfire and you can really engage with that. Yeah. Because it. (indistinct) imperfections. There's something there. And so I feel like the same when it comes to imagery. So I dunno, where are we gonna go from this film inspired world? I don't know. I think film's actually making more of a comeback. My problem with the whole film thing is like all these pictures being posted, going shot on film. But it's a shit picture. You know? But It still, It's like doesn't sell it. Doesn't make you better (chuckles). No, it doesn't make it better for sure. It's kinda like a cool thing to do, I guess. Yeah. I don't really buy into it. I'm yeah. I like digital. I like the flexibility it gives me and I like being able to shoot. But you still shoot some film in your projects. Yeah, I do. Yeah, you been little contacts. T3, yeah. Contacts T3. Yeah, Well so it's switching gears. Yeah. Your website is based on series 72 hours. Very series. Yep. Heavy. And you, seems like your work comes from these series a lot. Like the work you get. Drives a lot of work yeah. So what is, it might sound obvious to you and I, but trying to get, what are the benefits of doing series for creator? Why would somebody start doing series? Well, a personal project. Yeah, just doing series. Cause I believe a lot in series. I think it's really helps you. Well I think it's like a cute marketing angle. Yeah. You know, and to build a project around a central theme. Yep, having a theme. It allows you to sort of build on it over the years. Yeah. Rather than these sort of like one off disparate projects, or for one off disparate projects. But having a project that you can add to it's like one of those like 3, 6, 5 projects, isn't it? Yeah. Series throughout the year. I guess mine's like a (indistinct) series that runs over. It's been running probably like a decade now. And it's gonna be turned into First (indistinct). A series of books this year. Yes. Really excited. Turkey right, That was the first one? So your first 72 hours. First 72 hours was, no it was Columbia. Hmm exotic. Pretty good start. (both chuckle) It's good start. So the benefit of a series is for you to mainly it's good marketing angle. It's good marketing angle. I like seeing the progression. It's quite interesting seeing like the first of my series, 72 hours and where I'm going now. Yeah. It's nice, it's almost like your Instagram for you. Like scroll back your first Instagram. You could think of Instagram as a series. Couldn't you? You can 100%. You also have series within Instagram. Yeah. I feel like series are good for the media, for the press to talk about your work, cause they can package it easily for them. Well, that's what I'm saying. Marketing angle. Yeah, It's great. In that way, but in the end, the specific term, I feel like it's really helpful to get somebody known. Yeah. It's like Andrea, I remember he shared this, Skirt. (both speaking) I remember his skirt series. It's Like, series. So yeah, I just wanna use this time. Yeah, to be like series are, I should do more series. You inspired me to do more series. (indistinct). (both chuckle) I feel like nowadays we don't see a ton of black and white. No, so how do you feel about it? Black and white as a form of editing now. Cause you can only do it and edit. I think it's a shame actually. I really love black and white imagery and I think it, well actually there's Jason. Peterson? Peterson. Yeah, he's Solely black and white, massively popular yeah. Popular account. It's an interesting question. Cause I'm actually gonna use drop in some black and white images. Oh. On this shoot. But that again is being informed by client and the whole vintage styling of things (chuckles). Well, I like that you're gonna use it. I like that you're gonna use some black and white because it fits the, again it fits the story always or for the story. Yeah, that's always a driver, but I don't use it, I mean, I don't really use it on Instagram. Occasionally I'll experiment with it, but it's always like a. You experiment with it? It's almost like a mistake, you know, sometimes like. Oh yeah, Ooh. Oh, that looks quite nice in the black of white. Yeah, I rarely experiment with it either. I just love color too much. Yeah. I think I can tell sort of it's a richer image with color. I feel, yeah I feel that same way. And I feel like some locations don't look the same in black and white. Flat, but maybe it's like a, if our type of photography, which is quite like landscape based. Yeah, Portraits (indistinct). Portraits great. Or those like harsh contrast lighting conditions where you're dealing in tones. I think that's the difference between black and white and color. I mean you're essentially dealing with two different tones and the gradations of that. So if you've got a harsh contrast between, It works well with a big contrast, yeah. I feel like we should play more with it. We should. We should. (both speaking) I'd Play with it sometimes. I end up editing some photo and I just hit the black and white sliders really rarely. And I'm like, hmm. But never posted it. I don't like it as much. I don't like it as much. No, no, no, I agree. But we should make hit a point that should be a series black and white. I see a lot of modified edited photos with stuff added stuff removed. Yeah. Even myself sometimes I remove some objects from a photo, I'm guilty myself. I would never add something, but I remove some bits. How do you feel about that? I'm actually fine with that in terms of like removing stuff, even adding stuff. Sometimes if this is not a documentary photograph, It's not, yes. There's a difference between documentary photograph and art, you know, even like advertising imagery. It's not a true representation of life. It's an idealized version of life. It's an ad, yeah. So I don't really, I guess if someone's like posting a picture and they're saying, oh, this amazing location, look at the flamingos flying over there and flamingos weren't there. It's a bit dishonest. That's dishonest, yeah. So you're saying yeah. The integrity first. Yeah. And then if it serves your photo. Yeah. So where do you draw the line? Well, it's how you represent your image. Oh, like the context you give either in a caption or yeah. Or how, okay. Yeah, I mean, yeah. I'm not really down with like adding birds or fog if it's not there. Yeah. It's not foggy. So this is going too far. (indistinct) start saying that. Then if you take this shoot for an example, I'm gonna be like adding light leaks, sun flares probably to sort of bring that, The environment is not modified though. You're just modifying. No, but I might take out some people from a beach. Take out, Yeah yeah. Just to give that feeling of space, but this again is like, you could call advertising imagery. So I'm idealizing the scenario. It's not a true representation of it. And I'm not saying it is. Yeah, it's just what you say about it, yeah. Yeah, I mean, you hear instances of like (indistinct) here's lots lots of instances of like war photography where, you know, Something was moved. Something was moved or like multiple rockets were added to make the scene feel more aren't more gravitas or more dangerous. I don't buy into that at all. For documentary, no. No, I don't buy into that at all. I mean, I've got a friend at home who he's old school film shooter, and he's super down on Photoshop even. And he says, oh, you've tweaked the colors in your picture. (indistinct) Yeah. He's like. Really extreme, yeah. Really extreme old school. But yeah, It's that like, Well, you shoot film. So you make your color choices Before (chuckles). Before I'm just making my color choices after you actually are gonna shoot with portrait 400, then you're gonna use a certain type of green. If you're shooting with Fuji, you're gonna yeah yeah, exactly. You're gonna get different color green, like quickly shuts that conversation. Yeah (chuckles). But yeah. Yeah. So it's yeah, I agree. It's more of a, if you own it, I mean, it's more of a context as a commercial photo. Is it documentary photo and then if you own it, you know, if you're honest about it, if you're not just talking about some (indistinct) that wasn't there or. Hmm. It's good wisdom. Thanks. (chuckles)

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Ratings and Reviews

Brent Morris

Fantastic My thoughts on the storytelling workshop. The short is; it’s fantastic. The long is I loved all the details covered, from shot types and the ideas behind them to the call sheets and shot lists, and the whole process. I felt like I had a better understanding of how to schedule a professional shoot and I really felt like I had a much better grasp on many ideas and concepts, and I believe I’ve been able to improve my photography with them, so thank you and Finn. It really is fantastic.

Oswaldo Martinez

A path to better stories Very happy I got this workshop. Finn and Alex do a great job at teaching highly useful methods and specific advice to help you improve your own work, and more importantly, tell better stories that are meaningful to you.

Tommaso Selleri

Simply the best This is simply the best workshop out there on photography and storytelling. Finn is awe inspiring and so real and authentic. A pleasure to watch, a joy to learn from such master. I really hope a volume 2 is coming soon! Thank you for this one!

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