Every year or so, I like to go back and look at my old photos, then re-edit them according to my current style and standards. It is a fun little exercise that I actually find to be incredibly useful in showing not only how I’ve grown as an artist, but also in allowing me to use and sharpen my new skills in between sessions.
It is something I have done independently for a long time now, but this is the first time I have had a platform on which to post the results. I love being able to see the visible changes and improvements in my work, and hopefully they can be useful to others, the way they are to me. We all have to start somewhere, and photography is one of those fields where constant growth and improvement is necessary, so why not have fun with the journey?
This first Before-and-After is from a high school senior session I did during this past summer. On the left is the original “finished” image, and on the right is the one I have adjusted to fit my current liking. At first glance you may think that I have only done minor lighting and color tweaking, but if you look a bit closer, my hope is that you will notice that my in-post sharpening skills have become much… well… sharper. His eyes in the “After” image have regained the sparkle that I was not yet skilled enough to include when the image was first taken. His features are clear and refined, and each of the adjustments that went into making this happen, I made by hand. This is why I am so proud of this image; because I didn’t just find a new filter or Photoshop action to apply and make the image more crystal clear, I hand applied each tweak so that the adjustments look more natural and original than had I simply applied a sharpening brush to the subjects entire face.
This image is from a maternity session I had back in late July or August. On the left, you will see that I was not yet skilled enough as a photographer to know that bending the grass down during the actual session would have been much easier than trying to do it in-post, but I digress. I am proud of this image because I was able to bring out more of the individual details in this beautiful mom’s face, as well as the fact that I successfully removed the grasses which were blocking the belly.
As I said before, I love going back over previous work and looking at how my ability has grown. But I also adore being able to see how my preferences change. What I adored about an image from last year may be something that I don’t really like this year. Styles change like the seasons, and I believe it is a wonderful thing to be able to document each step along the way, so that we can look back at each evolution of our work and say, “Ah, so this is where I started, and look at where I am now!”
Have a wonderful New Year, everyone!