No, it’s not what you think. Contrary to rumor, I am not on a first name basis with Sarah Jessica, exchanging up-to-the-minute fashion tips. I am not, and never have been, a fashionista. Instead, I’ve always been slightly behind on the fashion curve. These days, post-retirement, my Manolo Blahnik substitute is a pair of black fuzzy Isotoner slippers and my preferred pants all have elastic waists.
But enough about fashion. What we are talking about today are trends in digital photography and how these trends influence our art. While our inherent style is the bedrock upon which our creativity is built, trends tend to be more fleeting, changing over time as technology evolves. This exploration into the nature of trends is another assignment for the “Find Your Eye” course – an exercise in distinguishing our style from the latest digital photography craze.
Many of the latest post-processing trends are attempts to replicate film developing. There are apps or actions to turn our images into Polaroids. We can cross-process our photos or add light leakage, blur and vignette effects inherent to images produced by a Holga camera. We can replicate lomography, green-tinged seventies developing, infrared film and vintage sepia toning.
Information abounds, almost to the point of overwhelm, on each of these trends and how to apply them to our images.
In working on this assignment, I discovered that I am in a post-processing rut. My editing steps tend to be the same for the majority of my images. While this results in an efficient workflow, it has kept me from experimenting with some of the latest trendy options.
So in the spirit of investigation and experimentation, I spent some time playing with pixels. The creation above is an example of a color palette, where the color sample grid was developed from the photograph itself. This is a trend that I can easily follow – it appeals to my graphic design sensibilities. (If you are interested in receiving a daily dose of gorgeous photographic color palettes, check out Design Seeds: a site “for all who love color”.)
Interesting, yes? The key is learning when the effect adds to the image; when it is more than eye-candy applied simply because it is the latest “thing”. That’s the part where I still struggle. Judging which image might be enhanced by the application of a particular effect. Which story will be richer by working some Photoshop magic. Because even as much as I love the editing process, I do believe that its primary role is to serve the image.
Learning how to create the effects is easy; it is developing the artistic maturity to use them wisely that is the challenge. I would say that, in my case, the jury is still out.