Should a set of pictures (portraits) all look the same?


TPF Noob!
Jan 4, 2016
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I'm new to photography, but I enjoy editing photos in lightroom and giving each picture a unique look. Sometimes I give photos a vintage look, or a matt finish, or an HDR look, or black and white, or whatever I think fits that particular image.

However, I see a lot of professional photographers give a client a set of photos that all look processed the same way. Each one is a bright and clear image that looks very natural. Obviously they tend to be great photos, and there might be a few black and white ones in there, but they all tend to be processed so that the set looks the same.

Is it that portrait photographers just strive to get that perfect, crisp, natural looking image? Do they consider photos that look over processed to be too amateurish? Or are there some respected portrait photographers who deliver drastically different types of images of the same subject?

I guess what I'm asking is whether or not I'm wasting my time learning to edit photos so that they look "cool" rather than natural? Will I eventually grow out of the processed look and just look to get natural looking photos? And what do laymen prefer? If you're just some average person who wants pictures of their child or their dog, what do they tend to want? Do most just want natural looking photos or do most like a variety? Or is it split 50/50? I see a lot of photographers knock pictures because they look "over-processed" ... but I also see a lot of non-photographers who seem to love those same types of pictures. What are your thoughts on this and what tends the be the general consensus of the photography community?
"Cool" as far as processing goes is strictly a matter of preference; yours and/or the clients. What's trendy today probably won't be tomorrow. As to why professionals tend to produce similar looking sets, it's because over time, every photographer develops his or her "look", and clients tend to book their photographers based on that look or style being one they enjoy. If you paid $1000 for a set of family photos based on the assumption that they would be a similar look as seen on that photographers website and half of them were totally different, would you be happy?
Try different things, go for what you like.
If you're editing photos you're NOT trying to sell - edit in any way you want.

If you are wanting to sell portrait photos, you could specifically market yourself on the basis that you do not do traditional edits.
However, note that people tend to be like herd animals and won't stray far from the herd.
In other words, by doing non-traditional editing don't plan on having a lot of customers.
Depends on your clients, their ages, and the expectations you have set for them. It is no longer 1979, nor it is 1985, nor is it 1999, nor is it even 2005...we are now a full fifteeen years into the twenty-first century, and moving into the sixteenth year...a lot of families now are made up of people who want something that looks contemporary, that looks of this time, of this era. This is a time of edited images, Instagram filters, Photoshop, Lightroom presets, heavy editing, noticeable retouching, and multiple "looks". Again--it's not 1979 or 1999...people understand that it is very easy to convert a full color image to a B&W or vintage-toned image.

There was a time when a colored gel fired onto a black seamless paper background, clamshell lighting, and loads of Aqua Net hairsprair was "the classic look". There was a time when the man sat down in a straight-back chair, his wife stood beside him, and she wore a full, five-fox fur neck wrap and an ankle-length dress, a corset underneath, and he had a pocket watch on a chain and wore spats over his shoes. BOTH of those were at one time "classic" images.

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