The Everyday Genius of Your Artistic Voice: Part 7, Post-Processing

Let’s Talk Post-Processing: If You Dare!

Welcome back to The Everyday Genius of Your Artistic Voice! This is Part 7 of an 8-part series, exploring practical ideas (and the thinking behind those ideas) for anchoring your very own soul’s genius and artistic voice more deeply into your photography and life. Ambitious much? heh. Today we broach the touchy topic of post-processing.

I don’t have a transcript for you this time, but I did make a video. A transcript wouldn’t have made much sense without the visuals, right? Hence skipping the written part.

Not-So-Helpful Questions

Post-processing is yet another one of those large topics that gets a little crazy sometimes. It’s emotional! There always seems to be a fair bit of agitation that goes along with it, along with excitement, confusion, arrogance, puzzlement, uncertainty, exhilaration, despise. I’d hate to be post-processing and have all that energy thrown at me!

Personally, I can’t tell you how many times people have asked about my settings, how I processed a photo, did I Photoshop it, or just asked me to critique their work. I never know what to say, since nowhere do I hear the first question that should be asked: What were you going for? That’s always the first thing I ask if I’m giving a critique. I want to know what I’m looking at. If you’re going to create art that reflects you and is imbued with YOUR point of view, loves, feelings, preferences and unique way of seeing (i.e. your artistic “voice”)… you really need to know the answers to queries such as:

Better Questions
  • What am I trying to say here?
  • Why did I take this photo in the first place?
  • What was I feeling? Where in my body did/do I feel it?
  • What do I want to convey about that feeling?
  • Is this image meant to be totally realistic… or do I want to go into more fantastical realms? (I don’t even necessarily mean surreal here. I often like going up to or only a little over the line of reality. That space is intriguing to me.)
  • What’s the story?
  • What does this image want to say?
  • What’s the vibe?
  • Where on my own personal color wheel of preference does this image dwell?

There are so many more possible questions… but the point is to learn to focus the vision/feeling/emotion you want to weave into your image by being as specific as you possibly can! And I mean, specific in both inner and outer (techniques/tools) choices.

Above all, the over-riding question when you post-process an image should NOT be “Is this right?” or “Is it good?”. Because, y’know… right or good according to whose context/standard? Best know the answers to the above questions, or you’ll be hopelessly lost and never feel 100% confident about your results. And that lack of commitment will show in your work!

How will you know if your post-processing work has been successful? By how it feels in your body when you’re done. It may be a tickle in your tummy, a gasp, a smile, a rapid intake of breath, a surging feeling. Everybody’s different, but there’ll be something. Point is, you get there by, once again, knowing the answers to the questions above (and their brethren). Only then will you even HAVE a standard by which to judge your own success. Remember, God is in the details…

The best way I know how to explain what I mean by all of this is to show how it unfolds for me when I’m post-processing. So I grabbed three likely suspects (one that’s totes realistic, a moody soul & one that’s a bit fantastical) and show you the thinking behind each of the choices I made in their creation. I show you a few Photoshop techniques along the way too… but mostly it’s about what I was going for and how/why I grabbed each tool I chose.

I feel like that could be seen as a little arrogant… Oh look at ME! It’s not meant to be. It’s just that my own work is the only one that I know well enough that I can demo these ideas. What I want YOU to do is grab the one or two ideas that resonate for you and go play! Honestly, that’s what I do. You have to let intriguing notions work their way through your system, spark your imagination,  then come out delightfully altered by YOUR muse so that it enriches your work and world. A nice way to live life generally, wouldn’t you say?

Quick Navigation

This video is a bit longer than my normal recordings: 36 minutes. If you have ants-in-your-pants (like I usually do!) and want the quick navigation option, here it is:

NOTE: Clicking these links will take you to Youtube. Alternatively, you can use the time codes shown to skip through the video below…

0:00-4:00: Introduction and opening thoughts
4:00-13:21: Realistic post-processing using this photo:

Truckee, CA







13:21-26:16: Moody post-processing using this photo:

Cherokee, NC







26:16-End: Slightly fantastical post-processing using this photo:

Cannes, France








OK… then without further ado (much as I love the Almighty Ado!)… The Everyday Genius of Your Artistic Voice: Part 7, Post-Processing.


Alien Skin Exposure X2
Macphun Aurora HDR 2017
Google NIK Collection
Photoshop CC (2017)


Episode 1: Introduction
Episode 2: Preparation
Episode 3: Appearance
Episode 4: Cameras & Gear
Episode 5: Art & Business
Episode 6: Art & Business
Episode 8: Storytelling
Extra: Q&A


Got ideas, comments, requests? Lemme hear them in the comments below!

As always… thanks for listening (and watching!)