Photos that are natural and honest require a few factors to come into alignment.
The capture of the raw image needs to be skillfully carried out, this requires communication and technical skill. When telling the story is the top priority the conventional guidelines of photography sometimes get thrown out the window. Rule of thirds? “perfect” exposure? Making sure nothing in the photo is over-exposed? Getting extraordinary story-telling images usually requires more than just blindly following these guidelines.
The post processing needs to be appropriate. I remember hearing some photographers joke that when the lighting or colors in a photo cannot be saved, just convert it to black and white and *BAM* its fixed! Such thinking can’t be more wrong. Black and white as an art-form in itself is a giant topic where lighting and color play an important role when applying filters, burning/dodging to tell a story better. When post processing, a lot of times it is more difficult to get a natural, great looking photo than one with big color shifts and heavy handed editing and cloning. While photos can actually benefit from heavy editing, the focus is usually on the photo as a piece of artistic output, not as a story telling element. That’s okay and very necessary sometimes but never as a replacement for a good solid story.
The final medium must be considered. To have the best possible output in terms of quality and consistency, the medium in which the photos are displayed have to come into the picture (sorry, bad pun). Is it going to be printed on fine art paper? canvas? photo-paper at a lab? displayed on a computer screen which you have no control? Uploaded to facebook? These things require some thought and consideration.
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