Don’t Show Me Your Tricks, Show Me Your Skills

eyes-see-it-logo.jpgThe automated features and tricks built into cameras and software can actually stunt your photographic growth. Are you relying on auto settings, pre-sets, and effects to make your shots look better? Do you run your photos through software that pushes your shots through pre-fab cookie cutter interpretations? Perhaps it’s time to take off the training wheels and develop a solid understanding of the real photographic process. There’s an artist inside you who yearns to learn. Let your pride be in your work, not someone else’s.

Stop being predictable.

Those pre-digested interpretations offered by the trendy camera pre-sets and post-processing software packages are way too easy to spot. Yes, they look spiffy, but they can also look a bit like a paint-by-numbers painting. They all look like someone else’s stuff! This kind of treatment looks good once in a while- I even use them myself (but sparingly). I want people to see my skills, not someone else’s tricks.

Be the individual, not the trend.

I grew up in the hippie years and to some degree, I bought into the trend. I wanted to be taken seriously as an individual, a non-conformist who didn’t just follow the masses and do what everybody else did. But it didn’t take long to realize that all those non-conformists all dressed alike, talked alike, acted alike, and smelled alike while proclaiming their individuality. They conformed to their non-conformity. It didn’t make sense back then and it doesn’t make sense now. If you want to express yourself, do just that… express yourself!

Determine today to see life through your own lens and interpret what you see with a clear understanding of how to command the medium of photography. Don’t see life through the lens of popular automation and trick treatments, learn the fundamentals of light and color the way your camera sees them. Capture what your mind sees, don’t try to force your shots into someone else’s pre-fab mold. Be an artist who understands the medium and is in command of their art.

Enough of the grunge, the saturation, the borders, and the pre-fab crap. Show us your message as expressed by your skills!

If you’d like to understand even more of what makes color work, how light behaves, and how easy it is to shape the light in your photographic images, here’s a suggestion. I’ve created an easy-to-understand video series that will teach you the fundamentals of light and color and help you to capture and produce amazing photos. Go to and get Bright About Light!


About Herb Paynter

Herb is a published author, photographer, retoucher, color reproduction specialist and a regular writer for Digital Photography School. Download his iBook "Digital Color Photography: A Deeper Look" from the iTunes store and view his Light and Color Fundamentals video series at
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5 Responses to Don’t Show Me Your Tricks, Show Me Your Skills

    • Herb Paynter says:

      Thanks for the comment Jason. It’s a whole lot more rewarding to understand the issues and address those issues from a position of knowledge rather than go along with the movement and not really grow with the process. We all be learning!

  1. It’s funny how often you find a metaphor, that you thought was original, often turn up in a text the same day. I wrote a text about that computers will not be able to replace artists, as art has to do with vision and fantasy, about creating objects that widening our knowledge as human beings. And by that, I mean knowledge in a much broader sense in what you can obtain by reading fact books or looking up some statistic. And I used the metaphor that art can’t be trained by paint by numbers books. And here you wrote, “Yes, they look spiffy, but they can also look a bit like a paint-by-numbers painting.”
    I haven’t looked into your course but I sure will. But I will also recommend a book that was written in the sixties, really old by today’s standard. Josef Albers book, Interaction of Colors, gave me more knowledge about colour than any Photoshop book that I have read.

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