How to Edit Your Photos

Dear friend,

There is no right or wrong way to edit (I mean post-process) your photos.

Editing vs post processing

Portrait of my mom. Berkeley, 2014. Kodak Portra 400

Okay, so unfortunately, modern vocabulary is all screwed up in photography.

  • Editing: The art of choosing your best photos.
  • Post-processing: Cropping, contrast, filter, brightness, exposure, sharpening, etc.

Today when we say “editing”, we mean to say “post processing”.

Sydney, 2014

But I’m not gonna be a verbal nazi. Moving forward, let’s assume I mean “post processing” when I say “editing”.

What flavors do you like?

SF, 2015 / Ricoh GR Digital

What flavors or spices do you like in your food?

Spicy? Bland? Sweet?

Orange County, 2014 / Digital Ricoh GR x Eric Kim Preset

What herbs or spices do you like?

Tumeric, sake, paprika, black pepper, Jalapeños?

SF, 2014. Kodak Portra 400

What kind of oil do you like?

Olive oil, balsamic, avocado oil, or bacon fat?

Portrait of Josh White. Seoul, 2014

How much do you like to season your food?

Do you like to put in a lot of salty flavoring? Or do you prefer it less salty?

There is no good or bad taste.

Kyoto, 2014. Portra 400

Anyways, I’m not gonna go further about food.

Essentially there are who good or bad taste out there.

Shot on a digital Ricoh GR. SF, 2015

You make your own taste.

You have your own tastebuds. Even as some ancients have said:

To some men, even honey tastes bitter.

It isn’t your job to instruct others who flavors to like. Rather, your job is just to know your own taste. Your own flavor palette.

How do you like to season your food?

Downtown LA, 2014. Ricoh GR digital with ERIC KIM PRESET

Editing your photos: is how you season your food.

For me, I like fatty foods, with a lot of salt. I prefer animal fats, with little vegetable oils. I like spice– Paprika is a favorite. I like bacon grease. I like sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

Downtown LA, 2015. Processed with ERIC KIM MONOCHROME 1600

For my photos, I like high contrast monochrome. I like to “crush the blacks”– having little detail in shadows. I don’t like grey.

Downtown LA, 2014. ERIC KIM MONOCHROME 1600

For color, I like high saturation, contrast, and vibrancy.

Toronto, 2015. Digital Ricoh GR and VSCO KODAK PORTRA 800 HC PRESET

These are just the tastes of ERIC KIM. It will be different for you. That is why I designed the ERIC KIM PRESETS the way they are– to curate my own aesthetic taste.

Visual Variety & Consistency

Chicago, 2013. Digital RICOH GR

Anyways, whatever you like– you probably want variety in your diet.

Kyoto, 2014. Portra 400

Would you want to eat the same food with the same spices, day in and day out? Even the most delicious foods become disgusting if you eat the same thing everyday.

Kyoto, 2014. Portra 400

Also for optimal health, we need a variety of food.

Downtown LA, 2012. Leica M9 x SILVER EFEX PRO 2

But I suggest this:

Have visual consistency within a certain project of yours.

For example, if you do a photo project of your partner, do it all in black and white film, and keep it consistent.

Downtown LA, 2014. ERIC KIM NEOPAN 1600 preset.

Or for example, if you do a street portrait series, do it all on the same camera, lens, and use the same preset or editing on the photo.

Edit your photos intentionally

Downtown LA, 2013 Leica M9 x SILVER EFEX PRO 2

For example, if you were gonna serve a Korean meal, you might want to have consistent flavors. You probably wouldn’t want to mix a Korean meal with random Caribbean flavors.

Portrait of Sean Lotman. Kyoto, 2014. Portra 400

I’m also a fan of fusion cooking– but if you’re gonna make a Galbi taco, do it intentionally.

The same with your editing– however you decide to edit your photos, do it intentionally. And stay consistent to your artistic vision.

Istanbul, 2014. Portra 400

Never compromise.

I prefer presets or film.

Philly. Portra 400 and flash.

It don’t matter if you use presets, or edit your photos manually.

Some of us like to grind all our spices by hand. Others prefer pre-packaged.

For me, I prefer to use presets. Why? It is easier, faster, and your results will be more consistent.

Portra 400. Philly. Eric Rivera.

But if you’re like your grandmother, and prefer to measure your ingredients by your hands without measuring cups– that’s totally cool too.

Amsterdam, 2014. Portra 400

If you shoot film, I recommend sticking with the same film. I prefer Kodak Portra 400 for color and Kodak Tri-X for black and white.

Salt your food to your own taste.

Downtown LA, 2011. Canon 5D and jpeg.

In terms of editing photos, I recommend using Adobe Lightroom and the free ERIC KIM PRESETS, or the presets from VSCO.

For mobile, I recommend the mobile VSCO app, or Snapseed.

Portra 400 x Flash.

Above all, just have fun with your editing. There is no right and wrong.

There is only right and wrong for you.

Portra 400 x Flash.

Enjoy the visual feast of life.


Tokyo, 2012. Tri-X pushed to 1600 x Flash.


Seoul, 2009

If you’re new to photography, start here:

Photography Inspiration

The Fundamentals of Photography

Technical Photography Settings

Street Photography 101 »

Personal Photography »

Photography Entrepreneurship »

Photography Equipment »

How to Take Better Photos »

Composition Lessons »

Photography Assignments »

Contact Sheets »

Editing (Image Selection) »

Creativity »

Motivation »


How to Create a Body of Work


Tokyo, 2012

If you’re new to street photography, start here:

Street Photography Inspiration

Beginner Street Photography Articles


Get started in street photography:

Definitions in Street Photography

How to Shoot Street Photography

Street Photography Equipment

See all equipment articles >

How to Conquer Your Fears in Street Photography

See all articles to conquer your fears >

Intermediate Street Photography Articles


Take your street photography to the next level:

Advanced Street Photography Articles


Find deeper meaning in your street photography:

Street Photography Tips & Technique


Learn how to shoot on the streets:

See all street photography tips and techniques >

Street Photography Guides


In-depth guides on street photography:

Street Photography Equipment


The best equipment for street photography:

See all equipment articles >

Street Photography Editing and Workflow

How to Start a Street Photography Project

Learn From the Masters of Street Photography

Prague, 1968. Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos
Prague, 1968. Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

“He without a past has no future.”

If you want a distilled version, read the free ebook:  “100 Lessons From the Masters of Street Photography.”

Free Downloads

See all free downloads >

Free Street Photography Ebooks


Distilled information on street photography:


ERIC KIM x HENRI NECK STRAP // Portrait by Benjamin Thompson

Learn how to make a living from your passion:

How to Make Money with Photography

Photography Marketing 101

How to Hustle.

Entrepreneurial Principles

How to be a Full-time Photographer

Photography Blogging

How to Teach Photography

Social Media

How to Save Money



eric kim street photography hanoi-0002040 cindy project

To find more purpose in your photography, pick up a copy of Photo Journal: Personal Photography Reflections.


eric kim hanoi street photography-0012576

Art »