I once heard advice when referring to wardrobe: you want to be stylish without being trendy.
I think the same can be true with how photographs are processed.
Things were definitely simpler in the film days; post processing was hard. Your choice of film basically dictated the “look and feel” of your images. This was true more so with color than with black & white, as techniques such as dodging and burning, toning, etc. could impact the appearance of a black & white image. It was common to have your own darkroom and thus have control over the process.
Post processing color images was generally expensive and time consuming. You could “push,” or cross-process in the development stage, or create composites by physically altering the negative (or more commonly transparency), combining images and creating another from them, etc. But most color was processed in a lab and, unless you spent significant money, what it was is what it was.
Post processing is a strength of digital photography. You can basically edit pixels to your hearts content, have control over color (and individual colors), create composites with precision. Basically achieve any look and feel that you want (and that your skills enable you to). It’s not necessarily easier – depending on what you are trying to do, skill with the editing application(s) and your ability to execute are required – but it is within reach, economical, and repeatable.
But what is a strength can also be a weakness. Overdoing things is much easier, too. And repeatability can lead to mass dissemination of “looks” – via Presets and Actions.
Which leads me to style. And trendy.
A lot of what I see I’m already tired of. It’s trendy. Desaturated, greens pushed, etc. I see it a lot in wedding photography.
I don’t mind “illustrative” looks in commercial photography (Erik Almas), nor cooler tones in portraits made with a fashion twist to them (Sue Bryce), nor light and bright infant portraits( Kelly Brown). But in portraiture, I’m finding my taste drifting more to a celebration of color, with deep rich tones rather than muted ones (Lisa Holloway). My headshots I treat somewhat differently, but in family and children’s portraiture I love this look for the way it plays the warmth of skin tone against a darker, rich background. I love the mood. And it somehow seems to fit.
I think it stylish, but not trendy.
Hence my latest approach with the Schade family. Newborn included,
Getting a newborn, 2 young boys, and a dog to cooperate (never mind the adults) is a lot like herding cats, but it can be done. Maybe not in one exposure ;). But it can be done. Thank you digital.