Featured Contributor Ben Sasso shares his early lessons learned in this installment of our “What I Wish I Knew” series, chronicling the mistakes and revelations creatives made during their first years in business.
You know that photographer whose work you love? You know how you’ve spent hours trying to figure out how they edit but you can never quite nail it? There’s a reason for that. You can study the editing all you want but the truth is that you may never be able to replicate it if you study that alone. Great editing starts with great light. It starts before the image is brought on to the computer. The lighting decisions you make on set can mean the difference between being able to edit the image to how you want it to look or hitting a wall. If you’re trying to figure out how to achieve a certain editing look, study the light in those images first before you even start digging into the tones, contrast, etc.
I love soft light. I love it almost as much as I love cats and sushi (that’s a lot). I almost always shoot in shade or backlit (which means that the side of the subject that’s facing me is in shade). Since I don’t have any hard light hitting my subjects skin in my work, I’m able to edit a certain way to bring out a certain softness that mimics the light I love. Soft light means less saturation, less contrast, and flattering skin tones and texture. If I shot in hard light, my images would come out more saturated, more contrasted, and with harsher skin texture leaving me with files that I’d have to edit completely differently.
For most of us, the editing process is there to make the most of the gorgeous images we’ve already made. It isn’t there to create something gorgeous out of something lackluster. As someone who teaches Editing + Consistency classes, that’s something that I’ve always found massively important for photographers to understand. Start with killer light and a killer edit will follow!
Ben Sasso is a photographer and educator living in Los Angeles. I’m all about nature (camping, climbing, hiking and running around), and I have an unmanly love for cats. I am a firm believer in fostering a close knit photo community and encouraging individual progression.
To view more of Ben's work, visit him here.
From a very early age I loved taking pictures and looking at them in magazines and books, but the art of photography captured my heart when I was a teenager, on my first overseas trip to Wales. From that point, I began shooting with a little film SLR and having my friend model for me. In college I took some digital photography and visual communication courses as part of my communication studies major, and decided to pursue a career in photography. I became a legal business and took my first paid client at age 20, and it's been quite a journey and adventure over the past nine years.
I secretly bought a mail-order 35mm camera when I was 15, and took lots of ordinary photos of animals and nature for several years. Although I majored in art and studied photography in college, my career started in marketing and advertising, from the client service end. Then I had the most beautiful baby, found my old camera and realized how much I love photographing people.