The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Filters
Thanks to Instagram, filters have become extremely popular with digital photography. Nearly everyone who has some experience with photos and graphic design seems to be using filters. Sometimes these effects are breathtaking; sometimes using filters is a mistake. This isn’t a big deal if you’re working with personal photos and graphics. However, if you’re using filters in stock photos, there are some tips you should keep in mind before giving in to the urge to use a filter.
Use Filters Like Makeup
Filters should always be used sparingly. You should never use a filter just because you can. The right filter can make a photo, but the wrong filter can make an otherwise gorgeous photo turn into a major eyesore. Filters are meant to enhance a photo, not distract from it. If the filter is the most noticeable aspect of the photo, you probably should choose a different filter, or not use a filter at all.
Avoid Popular Filters
It’s tempting to emulate something you like, but there’s always a cascade effect. When photographers see a type of filter they like, they tend to want to try out using that filter right away. Save these experiments for personal projects. When designers use filters en masse, the filter can cause the photograph to turn into a cliche. This is the worst kind of fate possible for a stock photo.
Never Overuse a Filter
Every designer has succumbed to this tendency at one time, or another. It’s easy to find a filter you like and then use it every chance you get. This can be worse than using popular filters. If lots of your stock photos feature the same filter, people will definitely notice. It’s not interesting if every photograph you take ends up with the same “feel”.
Experiment with Filters
If you’re not sure about using a filter, you may want to try out several versions of an image. Use several filters with the same photo. Observe the differences that the filters elicit, and view the photo without any filters. By doing this, you’ll learn by experience what works with certain types of stock photos, and what doesn’t.
Filters are frequently used with graphics, but filters can also be used in video. There are many videos out there on sites like Vine and other similar venues that contain filters. It may be helpful to check out these sites, and sites containing stock graphics to see what others are doing with filters. This can provide you with an abundant supply of inspiration. You’ll see for yourself what works, and what doesn’t. The biggest point to remember is not to rely on a filter to make your video or photo a masterpiece. Filters are meant to enhance, not to distract viewers from photos or videos with composition issues.
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