I’m Tired of Faking It

True confession: After 30 years of being a photographer i’m tired of faking it. By ‘faking it’, I mean passing off my mediocre photography editing skills as ‘professional’. This past weekend I took a small step away from ‘Imposter syndrome‘ and one step closer to my ‘new years resolution‘.  I spent a good part of my Saturday learning Photoshop (PS).

Really? I’m laughing at myself for even writing that sentence. Yes, I will confess my PS skills are awful. Ok, obviously they can’t be that bad since I’ve been muddling along well enough to sell a few prints here and their, but I’ve never had a solid foundation of knowledge to work from. Participating on this blog and being exposed to the wonderful photography of both my fellow bloggers and our guest authors, has made it obvious that I need to improve my skills. I’m tired of faking it.

So what finally got me to tackle this project after 30 years of avoidance? It was Mike’s post last week on finding someone to critique his photos. I’ve also been searching for someone that I trust and respect enough to help me to see my photos short comings. No matter how self critical we can be about our own work, we’re often too close to it to be truly objective. So with Mike’s blessing I sent him my Best of 2015 photo book for a thorough critique. I wasn’t disappointed.

It was wonderful to see my work through a fresh set of eyes and my head is swimming with ideas about how to both re-edit certain images and re-stage others.

With the help of Lynda.com I’m well into a basic PS course but I realize there is still so much to learn. I’m already struggling to find the time to practice what I’m learning, much less continue with this first course. This is another reason to pull back from social media, I plan on using my extra time to take my work to the next level. I don’t have any fantasies about becoming an expert on PS, I simply want to help my images be the best they can be. I find myself borrowing a page from Avanaut’s book; I’m enjoying going back to favorite images and re-editing them as I practice my new skills.

A lego version of the Mouse Guard character Lieam journeys down the sparkling river in his Lego canoe.
This was taken at Magnuson Park while I was kneeling in the mud near the beaver damn. The result was well worth the effort.
Lieam in canoe
Not perfect, but certainly a step in the right direction.

While I’m not completely happy with what I accomplished with this re-edit, it’s an improvement. With each edit I realize how much more I have to learn. I can tell I’m moving in the right direction; I can see that in no time at I all I won’t be faking it. The best part of this process is that I’m a little more confident that maybe I’m not an imposter after all.

~ Shelly

I’m sure I’m not alone in my procrastination skills. What is your worst (or best) example of procrastination?


  1. AliceinCleveland

    Hahaha hahaha hahaha. I – just – picked up Lightroom/Photoshop last weekend! We must be riding the same creativity cloud. Or having the same crisis. Or be linked or something.

    I will admit that I do enjoy the work of good Photoshop work, but it’s not what I am particularly after. Perhaps that will change, perhaps not. I will admit, after seeing your example, I think you used it there to compliment your photo rather than add anything to it (like effects). Your Photoshop highlights the idea you already had, it doesn’t make a while new idea. That is very appealing to me in its use.

    Glad you are continuing to push yourself into different areas of creative endeavor. How’s the latest challenge coming along?

    • Alice,

      I ended up with Camera Raw rather than Lightroom since it was already installed on my computer. I don’t want to do anything flash, I’m not Beardy_giant, but I know I can do better with layers and some other basic skills. I try to get as close as I can to what I want in camera. But with photographs trend to HDR photography, I know that my images need a little more work to really help them to stand out. Also getting images ready for printing has been a real trouble spot. My six hours of viewing has already paid off, yeah!

      That challenge that Kristina laid out is really hard. I was looking at older images and have a few that would work, but that sort of defeats the purpose. I am starting to get a few ideas and I have a photo adventure planned for Sunday. I hope I am successful. You?

      • aliceincleveland

        When I went on my recent photo retreat I made sure to finish the current challenge first. It wasn’t as hard to see in the world once I went out and just wandered. I’m excited to share the results, but I haven’t been up for that whole second part of it. You know, the writing.

        I even did the past challenges, make an exact copy of a photo (yours) and the one where two pictures tell different stories apart and together, though I just made one picture that when I split it, tells a different story than when whole.

        So excited to share… So not wanting to write. I need better focus is what it boils down to.

  2. Stefan K

    Well, I usally use Camera Raw to fix darkness and lightness. I use PS to turn down red and yellow, my Canon is to rich in red and yellow. But that is all I know. Probaly should check out that site you talked about.

  3. I’d be lost without my Lightroom/Photoshop combo! It’s well worth learning. When it comes to Photoshop, it’s such a large program that it’s useful to know what you need to learn (I discovered it can auto-generate trees last month, goodness knows why I’d need that). Curves adjustment layers, layer masks, content-aware fill, spot-healing tool and clone stamp. There you go, all you need to know to edit photographs 😉

  4. Auto generate trees! lol! Seriously I want to see you create an image that you can use that function! Layers is what I need to master in PS. That is what led to this whole crisis. I found out that Camera Raw does most of the other adjustment really well. Also it is hard to take them too far like you can in PS which for me is a good limiter. Smart layers and masking are the other areas that give me fits. Spot healing and clone stamp – those I have down. Maybe someday I can call myself a photographer and actually believe it 🙂

  5. May the Raw + Photoshop be with you. Always.

    Seriously, that’s unbeatable. There’s a thing about Raw I learned only a couple of years ago and it has saved me a lot of time and HD; when opening image from Raw format, press shift and it’ll open the image as a smart object. You can then use layers or masks or whatever you like but you can adjust the original endlessly simply by double clicking it’s icon on the layers window, it’ll open the original in Raw view.

    Only when you need to retouch the image itself you have to rasterize the smart object. Or, if you want to save the Raw, just a copy of it. You don’t need to save a separate Raw original for the archives, it’s right there with the file you’re working on as long as you don’t rasterize the smart object within.

    I use this for everything I do.

    Photoshop is an incredible tool, worth spending some time with. The best way of learning is just using it, you’ll tackle the questions one by one over time. Googling helps, I never used books.

    • I’ve been shooting RAW for awhile now, so I have that part down. But learning to use smart objects is a big part of learning this PS thing. Its good to know i’m on the right track.

      I tried books, but that wasn’t helpful. I like the Lynda video series because I can work on an image on my computer while watching it on my iPad. Best of both worlds. Plus I am practicing everyday so I don’t forget what Im learning.

      Thank you for not judging 😀

  6. I have had Photoshop Elements on my computer since I got my first computer back in 2003, I got it for free back then, but it wasn’t until around 2008 I began using it for more than just watermarks or as an alternative to paint.

    I try to stay true to my original, but sometimes the lightning can be a pain in the … and a little help is needed.
    I have tried to merge photos from time to time, trying to manipulate with the photos in every single way.
    It takes time and I’m still a happy amateur.

    I practice on photos that I’m not happy with because I have nothing to loose, they can hardly be any worse than they were from the beginning.

    So happy photoshopping on rainy days.

  7. I enjoyed reading your post. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to learn to edit RAW photos. Most of my photos are shot in JPEG and then edited in Photoshop Elements and/or Nik Color EFEX Pro. I’ve managed to edit a few RAW photos but I’m still struggling with it. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who isn’t a Photoshop Expert (and who has Social Media fatigue) 🙂

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