You’ve probably captured some stunning travel photography from your last couple trips. But months later, your library is still full of unfinished photos. Nothing seems to bring out the potential that’s hiding in plain sight: curves, drastic white balance changes, various crops, random techniques on YouTube. So, they remain in post-production purgatory.
Sporadic creativity is part of being an artist, but if you are aiming for a regular publishing cadence, sometimes, you need to give your inner artist a solid kick. (Your brain might also need a kick; here’s a quick checkup for cognitive biases that may be holding you back.) Here are some techniques to analyze your fine art photography objectively and get past editor’s block so you can regularly produce exceptional edits you won’t hate a week from now.
1. Turn Your Screen Upside Down
One of the best ways to learn new editing techniques is to pair up with an artist who works in traditional drawing media. The principles of drawing and tricks for escaping creative block apply to photography post-production. My favorite technique came from a high school art instructor: when sketching from a reference photo, artists turn the image upside down. This exercise helps your brain stop seeing things — trees, bridges, mountains — and start seeing shapes, values, and colors.
So, make a habit of flipping your photo upside down. It’s the easiest way to get a new perspective and almost always produces actionable insights: distracting areas, overly bright or dim regions, funky color palettes, or gorgeous shapes that deserve more attention. No need to turn your laptop upside down: in Lightroom, just tap Cmd-] a couple times. When that’s not enough, turn the photo on its side or look at your screen in a mirror. Whip out your smartphone and peer through the camera. If you’re editing a vertical shot on a laptop, rotate the photo 90 degrees for a little more screen estate.