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Developing a Photo is an Essential Step to Make It Good

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.
  • Organisation.
  • Sorting.
  • Selection.

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

You must choose your development tools and method correctly. 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-ins software is available on the market. I recommend you to test them before choosing one to integrate it into your digital workflow. Each photographer has his own sensitivity. Each one will need tools that correspond to 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 effect 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 a 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.

But each digital stream respects the following phases:

  • The cropping.
  • The cleaning of the photo if necessary: sensor stains.
  • The noise management.
  • The toning management.
  • The color management if necessary.
  • The customized development: black and white for example.
  • The sharpness management according to the output media: paper or screen.

The purpose of the digital flow and to create a photograph 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 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 life of a photograph.

You will 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 cost comes from 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 have the possibility to 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 to deep. For color, the tints will not be the ones you have on your calibrated screen.

My goal is not to describe the best labs on the market because this article is intended to make you aware of the steps of the creation of a photo, but 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: Showing 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 for this purpose 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. It will be the loss of your photo because the Dibond will break.

The best solution remains the 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 but 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 that with a quality frame the photographs are really finished.


The creation of a photograph is taking place in 6 phases:

  • The photographic approach.
  • The definition of a photo project.
  • The field photography.
  • The development on a computer.
  • The printing on paper.
  • The Presentation with a frame.

Now you understand why creating beautiful photography is a time-consuming and difficult process. You are a long way from the simple click of a camera.

You also understand why quality artistic photography is expensive to purchase.

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 unique photos that make sense, have impact and look like you.

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

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I Want to Help You to Create Interesting Photos