Developing a Photo Is an Essential Step for Excellence

Lanscape in black and white of the White House inside the Canyon de Chelly in Arizona in United States. Photograph by Amar Guillen, photographer artist.
The White House inside the Canyon de Chelly, in Arizona, United States.

Step #4: Properly Develop Your Photographs

Once your photographs have been taken in the field, you will download them to the computer. You will follow these steps:

  • Editing.
  • Organization.
  • Sorting.
  • Selection.

Once you have selected your photos, you will develop them. You must always keep in mind that the development of your photos has only one goal: to strengthen your photographic artistry.

You must wisely choose your development tools and method. For example, if you are developing animal photos, there is no point in using a portrait editing software. Likewise, if you develop underwater photos, using a software dedicated to architecture will be of no use to you.

The choice of tools is crucial. Today, dozens of plug-in software are available on the market. I recommend that you test them before choosing one to integrate into your digital workflow. Each photographer has his own sensitivity and preferences. Each one uses tools that work well for him.

Do not always listen to what other photographers tell you. Do not necessarily buy the tools described in magazines. Only tests will allow you to validate what you really need.

Personally, I only use Photoshop. There are two reasons for this technique:

  • The non-destructive outcome of the effects applied.
  • Use of masks.

Indeed, I consider that a photograph can only be developed by successive strokes.

During my photo workshops, when I explain the development techniques, I always insist on the fact that a sky cannot have the same treatment as a forest or a mineral landscape.

In wildlife photography, a coat is not developed in the same way as plumage.

All the components of a photograph are treated differently. It would be far too long to explain the development techniques for each photographic field.

Each digital stream respects the following phases:

  • Cropping.
  • The cleaning of the photo if necessary, such as sensor stains.
  • Noise management.
  • Toning management.
  • Color management if necessary.
  • Customized development, such as black and white.
  • Sharpness management according to the output media, such as paper or digital screen.

The purpose of the photographic process should result in a photograph that corresponds to your photographic artistry and which is intended for a particular medium.

Step #5: Printing

In my opinion, a photograph only exists if it is printed. During all the previous steps you still only have an image. As long as it is visible on a screen a picture is called an image.

Printing is a fundamental step in the resurrection of a photograph.

Choose the paper according to tones, colors, acidity. The more acidic a paper is, the less it lasts over time. To print, you must use a multi-cartridge printer.

The purchase of a professional printer is affordable. Today, for a few hundred euros or dollars, it is possible to have a professional quality printer in your home. The main cost lies in purchasing the paper and especially the ink. The manufacturers sell the printers without making a margin of profit. It is the sale of ink cartridges that ensures their income. If you do not want to invest in a personal printer, you also can print your photos through a specialized lab.

Personally, this is the solution I have chosen for my prints in widths exceeding 60 cm (23 inches). The cost of a quality print is extremely high. If you go through an online service, the prices are affordable, but the quality of the prints will be rather poor. For black and white, the blacks will be too deep. For color, the tints will not be the same as those you have calibrated on your screen.

My goal in this article is not to describe the best labs on the market. This article is intended to make you aware of the steps of the creation of a photo, however, it is important to be aware that to print a photo in large format, the price is often more than 100 € or $100.

It is up to you to do some tests to find the lab that best suits your photographic activity.

Step #6: Displaying Your Photos

Once you have printed a photograph and laminated it to a rigid backing to ensure it will last over time, you must submit it.

If you have chosen Dibond or Masonite as a support, you can hang it directly on a wall with the wall hooks provided on the back of the photo. I advise you to choose the right glue for your fasteners. If you chose a cheap glue, expect to unhook it after a few months. You will damage or lose your photo if the Dibond breaks.

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The best solution is relying on framing under glass or acrylic.

Acrylic has the advantage of not being as fragile as glass. But be careful when using museum acrylic: your photos will look blurry. Basic acrylic causes reflections; however your photos will remain sharp.

What I recommend is to use glass for small prints and acrylic for large prints. The presentation with a frame really enhances your photographic works but it also protects the photos for an exceedingly long time. I consider a photograph to be completed once it hangs in a quality frame, ready to be enjoyed by an audience.


The creation of a photograph occurs in 6 phases:

  • Photographic approach.
  • Definition of a photo project.
  • Field photography.
  • Development on a computer.
  • Printing on paper.
  • Presentation with a frame.

I hope that you now understand why creating beautiful photography is a time-consuming and difficult process. It is not simply a momentary click of a camera shutter.

I also hope that you now can better appreciate a quality artistic photography which is expensive to purchase, as it is the result of weeks of dedicated work, passion, and precision.

Now that you have read this article and understood each of the steps, all you need to do is set up an action plan to create your own unique photos that make sense, have impact and resemble your own signature style. I wish you the best in your own journey.

Be humble, patient, constant, persevering, and persistent because the road to excellence is long.


I Want to Help You to Create Interesting Photos