4. Use the Thumbnail as a Guide (But Not Gospel)
Thumbnails help you see the forest for the trees and not just in the colloquial sense. When searching for candidate photos, make a few passes through the trip as thumbnails before looking at full-size images. Once you start editing, leave the thumbnail up to remind you what initially drew you to the photo; the photos worth editing often look exceptional as a thumbnail.
However, thumbnails definitely have their limit. For years, I treated them as gospel, so if it didn’t look stunning as a thumbnail, I assumed it was a poor photo. While that’s been true for 90 percent of my images, in the last year, I’ve discovered images that are impactful in large format but not as a thumbnail. Those images may not perform as well on social media, but in full screen or as large prints, they have a level of maturity that can’t be discerned from the thumbnail.
5. Copy and Paste Settings From a Random Shot
These techniques may not be enough to get you past editor’s block if you’ve already maxed out you current edit and can’t make it any better. How do you get out of the rut? Make random jumps. Find a random shot you’ve already edited and copy and paste the develop settings to the image you’re struggling with.
It sounds stupid, but I’ve lost count of how many photos I’ve resurrected from post-production purgatory by copying and pasting settings from unrelated images. It helps you discover better color palettes, low-key exposures, and random NDs that shift the focus to a different part of the image. Part of the reason it works is that it’s not truly random: after all, the settings worked for a previous photo. The one random component, selecting an unrelated image, helps us break away from preconceptions we settle into!