How much is too much? Editing music photos in the Instagram Era

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How much is too much? It’s a loaded question when it comes to editing music photos and depending on what photographer you talk to, you’ll get a slew of different answers. This article will shed some light on my point of view when it comes to editing music photos and why it's more important than ever to make your photos stand out. 

When I mentioned you’d get a slew of different answers, a lot of them would be from the diehard purists in favour of zero to very little editing. There’s a lot of photographers out there that don’t believe it’s right to manipulate your photos, as you’re documenting a live event (concerts) and meant to be representing what happened in the most authentic way possible. I get that, and for a long time felt the same way. 

But it’s 2019 and everyone has a camera in their pocket sharing everything (usually live), we all have access to infinite amounts of content showing us “what happened”.

Where I currently stand on the debate over editing your photos is that you absolutely must edit your photos and strive to be creative. It’s an interesting time for photographers when apps like Instagram exist. You may be shooting for a publication or website, but really you’re shooting for Instagram. We’re slaves to the algorithm and that means you need to create impact with every image you post.

You create an impact when you’re posting something unique and to be unique you have to shoot differently, edit differently, and start to brand your style of photography. With more photographers in the photo pit then ever before, all shooting with the same camera, lens and setting. The real question we need to ask is:

How are you editing your photos to set yourself apart in the sea of sameness?

Maybe you’re all about creating images with a unique white balance, or colour treatment, or you love creating double exposures or collages. I say bring it on! Be unique and create art that represents you. I think editing photos just for the sake of editing them is wrong, but if you can enhance your image and make it better and more impactful, then you’re on the right path. Think about how the show/artist made you feel and let it inspire your edit. Maybe there are some interesting graphics that were displayed that you could overlay on top to bring more of that live experience into the mix. There’s so many ways you can approach editing your photos, but I’m in the mindset that over editing is bad, only when it takes away from your image. I’m a huge fan of shooting plates at shows (an extra frame that you shoot without your subject to give yourself some extra background options to composite in post production). I look for interesting captures that may help me when editing like taking blurry photos of lights or capturing graphics, so I can build interesting photos and mixed media style collages. This is really important in my opinion when the show itself is lacking a great visual experience from bland lighting to just a black background behind an artist. There are lots of ways of using the environment you’re in to make a better image during the editing process.

If there’s one takeaway from this article, I hope it’s that you know editing your photos is okay and you should be creative. Don’t worry about the purists, the world is in need of creatives doing it differently. Let’s shake shit up and start setting the next trend

Check out three examples of my work below. Each does something a little something differently, but they all explore capturing plates from the environment whether it’s graphics, lighting or even dust on the stage.

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Arcade Fire at Scotiabank Arena (Before)

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Arcade Fire at Scotiabank Arena (Before)

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Foxwarren at Lee’s Palace (Before)

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Foxwarren at Lee’s Palace (After)

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Solange at Danforth Music Hall (Before)

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Solange at Danforth Music Hall (After)