Photo Editing 101 with Wee Kiat
To be a photographer, it does not mean to only take pictures, but also to conceptualize a photo shoot and modify the photos taken into a final presentable result. In this article, we will share our interview with Ong Wee Kiat, the magician turning a street and war photographer. Your appetite to learn will also be satisfied with the best tricks on how to become a good photo editor and many more!
First of all, please introduce yourself to us. When and how did you start becoming a photographer?
I got into photography back in 2014. I was a magician and bought a camera with the intention of recording videos of my performances to share them online. As I played more with the camera, my interest in photography began to grow. I started watching YouTube videos of tutorials or works by famous photographers. My inspiration began to grow and that’s how it overtook my “career” as a magician. Since 2015, I did various photography jobs such as street photography, events, and even commercial. I still remember when failed to provide a good service for a 21st birthday party.
How do you describe your photography style? What is your favorite genre?
I love portrait, street, and war photography. Yes, you read it right, war. Even though I never have any first-hand experience in that genre, it is still my favorite. I just love powerful photos. Things that make people reflect, think, and appreciate what they have.
My photography style is never fixed, always changing depending on my mood, inspiration, and events. When I am emotional, colors are more desaturated and flat. When I am filled with joy, photos are generally warmer and brighter. However, implementing the suitable editing style is a priority.
There are many types of photographers, some of them mainly do the photo shoot while the other just photo editing. On a scale one to ten, how much are you into taking and editing photos?
10 of course! No photo shoot, no life.
10 too! Editing is part of the process.
To give us a picture of your life as a photographer, let us know your equipment!
To take photos, I mainly use the Sony A7II. A full frame mirrorless camera with Zeiss lenses such as the 50mm f1.4 and 35mm f2.8. Sometimes the 70-200mm f/4. But I stick with primes 90% of the time. Backup cameras are 2 A6000s by Sony too.
Which one is your favorite editing software?
Lightroom, Photoshop, and Capture One. All 3 of them! They are equally important to me as they have different strengths and are used to complete different tasks or achieve unique looks.
To manage a huge library of photos, Lightroom is most effective as I can quickly compare similar photos and retouch the ones I like along the way. Lightroom is also the best for experimenting and exploring.
This one is geared more towards perfecting a photo as its powerful range of tools such as the content aware tool and ability to perform frequency separation allows heavy editing. However, a huge body of photos is definitely not ideal.
- Combining Lightroom and Photoshop
When paired, Lightroom and Photoshop are among the best combinations for software any Photographer could ever wish for.
- Capture One
This is similar to Lightroom, but the reason I still use it is that it cooks and does a light processing when importing the raw files. It gives a unique and exquisite look due to how it processes.
Which software is best for beginners?
Honestly, it really does not really matter. Most editing software, sometimes known as raw converters, have standard tools such as exposure, contrast, white balance etc. In fact, even phone apps have a similar function. Thus for me, the greatest factor to consider is your workflow. Try out different software and see what works best for you. Since many have free trials, giving it a try is not asking too much is it?
Lightroom is intuitive and definitely a great start as it is widely used by many people-including amateurs and professionals-allowing users to source for tutorials easily on forums and social media. Since it’s made by Adobe, using with Photoshop is a breeze as you can further edit there and bring back to Lightroom. Always focus on your photos, not the software. The software is there to achieve the vision you have. If it does the job, it works.
Okay, we’ve been waiting to ask you the most exciting question. Please tell us your best tricks on how to become a good photo editor!
- Select the right photos to edit
Before anything, always make a good selection first either before or after importing your photos into the software. Eliminate the ones you don’t want and only keep the best. One mistake I made in my early days as a photographer was to show all my work. It is not a good idea to show viewers photographs which have similar burst. They will get bored and have the impression that the photographer is not clear about what he or she wants
- Choose your photographer role model
When starting, try to follow your favorite photographer’s style. Once you have experimented with all software, you’ll get to know the various results of the modification.
- Try out different styles with different editing software
Always be brave to experiment and try out new styles. Remember to also try new things that most may not have.
- Pay attention to technicalities
Never “overcook” your raw photos. For example, smoothing the skin until it looks like a painting. Or, increasing the saturation til the colors look unnatural (it depends, but in general avoid.).
The output quality is just as important as during the editing process! Make sure the settings are right such as jpeg quality and color space. For me, I always go for the maximum no matter what. Never compromise on quality and ensure the final photo conveys its message.
- Develop your own style
The process of becoming a good photo editor takes time and a lot of practice. When you improve and get better, develop your own.
8. We want you to become our photographer role model! Can you teach us more about photo editing? Perhaps, share us your best creations?
In terms of editing style, realistic (natural) is without a doubt my approach. I just prefer showing different perspectives of our existing world and people may go “Never thought of that” or “now I see in a different light”.
There is another style which is a more creative approach and incorporating imaginary concepts such as adding elements that aren’t there in the original photo. Certainly nothing wrong with that. I just think that we should appreciate what we have first before moving on.
However, there are indeed times when I modify the pictures to look different than the original and become unrealistic (imaginary). For instance, changing the color, light removal/change of objects, edit skin tones and some lens distortion/vignette issues.
Below you can see how I would edit photos:
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