With all the technology and software available today there are a myriad of choices to make regarding how to process your images. Some of the questions that arise are:
What am I trying to accomplish?
What should influence the choice of styling?
How much is too much? And where do you start?
For me it all starts with the image itself. I try to ask myself...
What is the overall mood of the photograph?
What are the most compelling features of the image?
What is the best way to draw attention to those features? and
What kind of response am I trying to elicit from the viewer?
Some of the above questions can be hard to answer due to the subjective nature of visual arts. So, at the end of the day I have to trust my own instincts and produce what I think works best. (This of course, is assuming you're not shooting on commission for somebody, who's personal taste will often dictate the final style).
There are times when I can be a little indecisive about this, or I can go back to an image a day or 2 later and decide that I don't really like the style I've applied to an image or the way I've processed it. Take this image for example:
My initial instinct was to process this image as I did in pic.2. I must admit I was rushing the decision a bit, in an effort to share it with friends as soon as possible following a recent event. I knew it was a great shot but on reflection I decided I hadn't carefully thought through the best way of processing it.
It turns out that I'm not the only one who likes the image. Most of the feedback I got was very positive and revolved around the central figure in the picture where all eyes are focussed. She's a beautiful woman and my initial attempt at processing the image didn't address this aspect of the shot. I was more focussed on the fun that was taking place (it was a game of musical chairs).
As I mentioned above, this can be very subjective, everybody sees something different. So I'm interested to know what you think. Please feel free to make a comment.