Looking at photo editing styles and genres can teach us a lot about what direction we want to go in. Have you ever thought I think I could do that, but I’m not sure where to start? Then the negative thoughts begin to stack up so you forget about it for another year, but if you are creative, that thought will come up again and again and pick up pace because it’s part of the expression of you. That niggling feeling will probably become so uncomfortable you will look for ways in, or curiosity will win over fear.

Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world

Brene Brown

What I love about Photo Editing is that it’s really creative and actually fairly quick with the right guidance. If you compare it to something like drawing, you will get results quickly in Photoshop. We need visual imagery in our lives more and more because it’s useful, especially if you have a business, social media accounts or even if you work for a smallish company, then you will need photo editing to stand out. I have taught a fair few young professionals that have had editing and social media jobs suddenly thrown at them on top of their usual job and they needed to upskill quickly. It’s an increasingly visual world and social media is beginning to drive commerce. 

What’s been holding you back from Photo Editing?

So let’s explore some of the reasons we may have opted out of creative endeavours in recent years. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • My partner, mother, brother, sister was always the creative one, I just thought that role was taken and I didn’t want to be compared to them.
  • I have a big job that took up all my time and creativity didn’t really fit into it.
  • Art wasn’t really my top subject at school. I just wasn’t one of the best artists.
  • I’m more of a logical and pragmatic thinker but now I feel like trying something more creative.

I have come across all of these reasons throughout my life and in my teaching career. These notions get ingrained in us and sometimes become the reason why we must not even try. You should try to think of them as stories. Stories that you can change. They are nothing to do with the way you show up now.

School and Creativity

Don’t even get me started on the way art is taught in schools. Us arty teachers tried but the system we taught in was often the problem. All that marking, everyone having to know what level they were at because everyone should know who was the best at copy drawing, which just served to devalue art and put kids into a kind of winner loser situation. Then there is ‘school art’ which is different to creativity and the stuff kids will develop and play with at home for hours and hours which is usually infinitely more creative than copying for levels and grades.

Creative subjects in schools are often what we feel we should be naturally gifted at or one of the best in order to enjoy it. I disagree with both of those reasons they are untrue perceptions. Or perhaps you enjoyed art and did lots of it, but in secret because you feared judgement. I meet many adults as a community college Photoshop teacher, that I can see have that creative flair and they don’t see themselves as arty because of past experiences. 

You may be surprised at how creative Photoshop is because it’s perceived to be a very technical programme and it is but it’s also as simple as you make it and very creative, it is the way I teach it anyway. I think people come into my classes thinking they may improve a few pictures, but I like to have them leaving feeling like a visual artist. Also fully tuned into what they want to get out of Photoshop, to find their style, way of working, vision and they’re expression.

Photo Editing Styles and Genres

There are so many different ways of working with Photoshop, different outcomes, uses, styles, genres. I want to explore this, highlight how it can be used, inspire you to have a go. As a very visual person, what I get inspired by is others work, so here we go. These artists are from Instagram.

Fantasy Art

A genre depicting magical or supernatural themes. You usually get a bit of magical sparkle in this theme. By @genz_artist.


This could be what you photograph and edit from walks you go on or even pictures from you back garden. By @lesfleursdelanuit

Social Political

Usually to help the public understand a particular social political issue. To do with viewpoints, identity and opinions. By @design.bigmike and @adamcutler.photography.

Expressive Surreal

This is fine art digital artwork. Photographed and edited together to express the artists vision. By @brookeshaden Brooke loves to inspire creativity. Her site Promoting Passion is well worth a look. I like the videos on her process. She is incredibly generous with her creative process. https://www.promotingpassion.com/videos/

Expressive Surreal By @herwigclaeys

Illustration Digital Painting

Illustration. It is painting digitally rather than by hand on paper. It can have a cartoon feel to it or be very realistic. Not restrained by representation so is often very creative and artists are able to develop unique style. By @dianapedott

Social Media Portrait

It is becoming more and more important for social media accounts to connect with their audience through self portraits. This brings us into the creative realm of image making.

Photo Sparkle

Adding sparkle to photos is becoming more and more popular. There is one person that does this very creatively that you should check out @sarashakeel

Other genres include Concept Art which is a visual design or idea for a film, video game, animation or comic. Collage Art and Composite Imagery; Collage is more graphic and illustrative, Composite imagery is carefully placed elements to give the illusion of reality but often has a very surreal quality to it. Portraiture is a huge theme in photography and there are many ways to enhance studio shots and location shoots.

Look at Photo Editing

Start looking more intently at imagery. Look at the advertising imagery that you see throughout your day. Movie artwork is well worth studying for a few minutes. What stands out? what are the main elements, how is the picture composed, what impression does it give you? Fashion photography is highly creative and often really experimental and cutting edge photo editing. Keep Looking.

Do you think there are any ‘stories’ that have kept you from having a go or reaching out to that creative endeavour that intrigues you? Your welcome to tell me about it in the comments. What’s that one thought that stops you in your tracks? Recognise it and tell it, ‘you are just a story’.

Sign up to Newsletter for more blog posts like this, practical vlogs, and news of up and coming Pop-up groups and online courses. Follow me on Instagram @growingphotoediting.

If you have kids and you are interested in guiding their creativity you may want to read How to Encourage Creativity and Working In-Flow with your Kids Even if they are Teenagers

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