While creating my new Texture packs, I had a thought to share that has come up a few times lately. It has to do with the old saying that less is more. When it comes to photography and photo editing, we’ll find that thought can weave its way into a number of areas.
Sometimes less photo gear, can actually help us with photography by concentrating on something. Sometimes less Lightroom or Photoshop editing can actually be exactly what a photo needs. But there’s another area I’ve been thinking of lately.
See, as a content creator of courses and presets, it’s easy to get in the habit of thinking people just want more. Longer courses, more presets, etc… For example, is a 17 hour Photoshop course better than, say, a 4 hour long course? Photoshop is a big program, and you really can’t learn it in an hour. But do you need 17 hours of tutorials? I’ve personally never thought so. I think many of us reach a point where we need to actually COMPLETE something. There’s a certain feeling of accomplishment when we finish a course, or we actually use all of the presets we purchased.
We also tend to have the need to feel like we have control (and an end game) over the amount of content that we have in front of us. Whether that content is lenses, Lightroom presets, Photoshop actions, extra plug-ins, or textures of some sort. Without that control and management of what we have, whatever it is we’re looking at can feel daunting right? How do we absorb it all if we don’t really even know all of what’s there?
Where Is All This Going?
So where is all of this “less is more” going. Well, as I create things like presets for Lightroom and Photoshop, I’ll look around at what’s out there. As a scroll through social media and my email inbox, I see ads for everything. Just yesterday I started getting emails from literally everyone in the photo industry, with that big 5 day sale thing. And it makes me wonder… is that really what people want? Or are people just buying something so big because they’re afraid of missing something?
As I try to create something new, and see those offers, it’s easy to get caught up thinking I have to make hundreds of presets in order to compete. It’s easy to think that my customers (you reading this) want those “Over 1000 presets for Lightroom for just $19” deals. Heck, back in the days when I worked at Kelby, success was often measured by how many hours of training the site had, or the quanity of courses. More, more more…
In a way, I think we’re always pushed to think MORE IS BETTER.
Is More Really Better?
And I guess that’s where I disagree in some ways. When I see things like presets, I’ve always led with the assumption that less is more. I personally can’t comprehend 500 presets in my Lightroom panel. It’s overwhelming to me. I don’t know where to start. I can’t remember what I clicked on last or what I liked from the time before and I can’t ever find the same ones again.
I’d rather have a preset pack with 10-20 really good presets in it, than 200 presets that look the same. I’ve also always liked the saying “Give a person fish and you feed them for a day. Teach them to fish and you feed them for a lifetime”. Yeah, I know it’s corny, but I believe fully in teaching and education.
I’d rather give you 10-20 presets, and a bunch of good training on how to use them and how to adjust them to make them your own. Just yesterday I released 3 new Texture Packs that compliment my Creative Texture Blending course. I originally only had 10 textures in each package, and I thought they were ALL awesome.
But I had this nagging feeling that if I only release 10 textures in a pack, nobody will buy them. So I was going to go with 20-30 textures in each package. But, as I approached 15, I realized something. I realized that I’m just making the same texture over again, and adjusting tiny little aspects of it for every new one.
So instead of making more textures, and giving people more files to manage and look through when they decide which one to use – why not just add a bunch of great training that shows them what I’m doing to make the extra textures different? That way, you’re in the driver’s seat. If you want more, or want to adjust something, you can do it.
Let’s Wrap This Up
Anyway, whatever it is in your photography life, I’d ask you to consider whether or not more is better – or if less is really the way to go. I’ve paired down my landscape photo gear to two lenses for the most part. And honestly, if they made a 12-300mm lens for my Sony full frame, I’d probably go with that 🙂
Like many of you, I actually use presets too. I use many of my own presets for that matter. But I don’t have hundreds of them anymore. I’ve moved past that. I now have a select small group of presets, textures, actions, etc… that I use, and that can easily be changed.
I Wish My Brother Would Read This
Well, there’s my rant for this mid-October Friday. I’m actually up in Boston right now, helping my brother move to FL and enjoying a little of their cool weather before the long drive. And as I help him pack up a moving truck, I’m thinking to myself, “Bro… you really need to read my ‘Less is More’ article and this move could have been SOOO much easier!” 😉
Have a great weekend and if you’re one of those Texture Blending junkies like me, I hope you’ll check out my new Texture Packs which, as you can probably guess, have just the right amount of texture files – and come with some kick-butt training to show you how to modify them 🙂
I see this so much with software and even expensive camera equipment.
I remember you telling us we need to learn how to use the LR & PS software rather than buying more plugins.
As I become more proficient with LR & PS I see the wisdom in that.
I am happy to have purchased the Brushes pack and the training that comes along with it. It makes brush adjustments so much easier when doing adjustments like in your Landscapes course. Really nice to have a premade set of brushes and instructions on how to use them.
Now if only I could apply that to the guitar collection………
I’m a huge fan of MattK and now feel I have mastered your brush and gradient presets in LR. I find myself knowing what to do instead of having to always click on your specific tweak. Question, I did purchase some presets from other phtogs and now want to delete many. What is the proper way to do that! Thanks.
Hi Debi. Just right click on a preset and choose Delete.
I’ve been using the presets from the Wildlife Texture course and loving applying them. This is the first time that I’ve purchased presets and I’ve just ordered the great new three pack as well as the grasses. Pretty sure that the accompanying instruction and your sensible article on Less Is More has just saved me from falling into the trap pointed out by others here. I too have unused gear and obscure softwares ramping up the guilt. There is more pleasure in ‘Love the one you’re with’.
Less is More. A great guiding life mantra. Thanks, Matt.
I so agree with you. I think your view of the less is more is even more applicable to applications!! I made my choice. Lr + Ps are my main apps. At times I resort to On1 and the only true plug-in I still use is the NIK collection. The rest are redundant to me.
“A little is good, more is better, and too much is not enough!”
Keep it simple!
“Less is more” is an excellent motto to live by. We are downsizing seriously as we contemplate a move out west to BC, and as I go through all the stuff accumulated over the years, I realize that I have not used most of it in ages. So – out it goes! Same for much of my saved data, but NOT my photos! I always enjoy your insightful comments and your photo courses. Keep ’em coming!
After downloading some free presets I realized that they were nothing more than different settings. When I see presets for sale I have the feeling that someone is making money and I’m not getting very much. I’m sure there are probably some presets that I would like but finding them would be like the needle in the haystack. I have accumulated a bunch of free presets and have found I seldom use even those. I agree with you “Less is More”, perhaps 10 radically different presets would be all anyone would need. I say radically different because each preset could be altered, yielding … ANOTHER preset and if the bought presets were not “Radically Different” those alterations could make an altered preset look like another bought preset and that would lead me back to ” … someone is making money and I’m not getting very much”.
Couldn’t agree more Matt. Like many others I have purchased a bunch of presets in the past all of which have been consigned to the dustbin. Not because they were bad per se but which one do I select and when; plus 99% of them I would never use. My editing has progressed to the point where I know what I want to achieve on an image and am familiar enough with Lightoom and Photoshop to do it without the use of any preset. It may take me a a little longer but I have yet to find a preset that I would regularly use and that would truly save me time. However, that being said I have yet to look at your latest package which I will go and do now.
As an aside I am also sitting here wondering about purchasing the 5 Day Deal. I purchased one a couple of years ago and it has been a great source of reference material but do I need another? If I do it will be primarily for the charity donation.
I totally agree. I have a lot of presets and rarely touch them. In LR maybe some LUTs. I can usually work my own way as most of my images are different enough from each other that I simply scroll through presets and LUTs for a few ideas. As for fancy hardware, I limited myself to one camera, two lenses, one tripod, and a few ‘will not fiddle in post’ filters.
I made a mistake and purchased PSE 2021 instead of getting the trial. Now I find I don’t want it at all and I’m stuck. I never learn.
Matt, I couldn’t agree more. Ninety percent of the time I shot with an 18-300 Nikkor on my D500 and I carry two prime lenses. A 50mm and 105mm. Sadly, I purchased a preset pack with 100 presets and then a couple of effects type presets pack of 25 or 30 in each. It turns out if I use a preset it’s usually one of a select handful. I rarely, if ever, use the effects presets, but they were fun to try. I use LR for most of my work with PS to do the what PS does better than all others (see healing brush).
Thank you for providing solid content and telling it like it is!
Couldn’t agree more. I have downloaded a number of pre-sets packages in the past. Ask me how many I actually use… Basically, none. Can’t separate the wheat from the chaff, so I end up creating my own. Those are the ones I remember and use.
Related to this, several years ago I read an article from a well known photographer who recommended to his students that to learn photography they should take one camera, and one prime lens, and use it exclusively for a year. Track your progress and learn from it. Too many options leads to confusion. Your essay confirms this truth.
Wish I knew you were headed for Boston – I would have been happy to help you pack up your brother.
Have a safe trip.
Agree with less is more…I used to follow so many different photography educators, but have basically pared it down to just a few – you and Blake Rudis, mostly. I stick with quality education that fits my learning style.
I totally agree with you Matt. I am actually turned off buying very long tutorials or deals with loads of action, Presets. I just don’t have the attention span to wade through them all, so I don’t buy. I like your idea of a few presets and some training on how to use them, short and sweet and more time to take photographs, with less gear.
I hear you. I’m one of those that always brings too much stuff. I buy stuff I never use, always have too many lenses, filters, etc. I guess I like buying photo gear. I’ve never really gotten into presets. I did get your texture course and hope (springs eternal) to use what I learned from it one day.
Drive safe. Your a good brother,
Absolutely correct. As I’ve gotten older and (I’d like to think) wiser, I came to the same school of thought on less being more. Time was, when you felt like you had to wow everyone with the latest trick or tool……you’re right in your thinking; don’t ever doubt it….
Photographers are being flooded in the market place with courses, and content packages that one cannot sort through all the offerings, so photographers are seeking curated quality. Hence – less is more. Enjoy your blog as well as your blend textures and courses.
Yup! Less IS more. Love all your classes.
I always appreciate your straightforward, unpretentious approach, Matt.
I do think that chasing after an illusory sense of “control” is the subconscious reason that many of us become obsessed with digital editing. It took me a long time realize that. I have definitely noticed that I am happier when I shoot more and edit less.
You do jest great. Keep up with what you do as you do it. “cutting back” is great, When I retired 22 years ago after 40 years as a Newspaper Photographer with a 35 pound Camera Bag. I went to a Nikon CoolPix. have upgraded to a CoolPix 900, and that may be may be 1 upgrade to far. I carry 1 CoolPix 900 2 extra batteries and a spare memory card. Does everything I find I want to do. Downsizing is great.
Quality always bests quantity for me. But as you say, that’s hard to find. I’d like to have a compact car with all the bells and whistles, but I’m forced to get a full-size car to get them.
Likewise, to get Apple’s best camera, I now have to get the biggest size.
Same goes for ‘100 Photoshop Top Tips Issue’. Good grief! Impossible to remember and mostly needless. I’d much rather have a compendium of tips with a robust search capability to quickly answer “how do I….” questions.
I agree! I came to this conclusion a couple years ago. I have so many presets, brushes, fonts, etc. that I don’t even use them or know what I have! I used the same Topaz preset on all my work. So less is more!
I agree Matt. A buddy and I have often said we need to spend more time shooting than editing. And then a little later we say the opposite. Sometimes it feels like a trail with a lot of switchbacks but it is still enjoyable. Also, less is more is why I purchase your tutorials. You cover the important stuff instead of adding a sharpening section in each video. Shorter, more concise and to the point.
Pierre – I wouldn’t count someone else’s money. Either the course, for the price offered, has value for you or it doesn’t. Doesn’t matter how many Matt sells; shouldn’t affect its value for YOU.
For example, I didn’t think the full price of Matt’s Photoshop System matched up with the value for ME, considering how little I use PS. However, when he put it on the “staying at home” sale, it made more sense for me and I purchased it. How many copies he sold or was selling never entered into the equation.
Bottom line is – determine what works for you and then go with it.
I purchased the 5 day deal a couple years ago and haven’t touched about a third of it if not more. More most of the time is just too much!! I prefer just good solid training, and equipment. BTW, I am under the assumption that people make the change to mirrorless as they are lighter then carry all kinds of heavy equipment!! Great Article Matt!
>> Just yesterday I started getting emails from literally everyone in the photo industry, with that big 5 day sale thing.
I hate this time of year. And it is not just one email. Everyone has to send two or three. Ending in 24 hours! Extended one day only! GRR!
I received a camera bag as a gift from my son 10 years ago. It was just big enough to hold my Nikon D90 camera with its only lens, an 18-200 zoom. I could squeeze a couple of batteries and a battery charger in but that was it. I thought at the time is was too small.
I enter images into my local camera club’s monthly competition and have risen to the Master class being assisted by your courses that I have purchased and those that are offered at no cost. It has been my experience that simplification in the original creation of an image is as affective using what I have, carrying only one camera body, one lens and a tripod as those colleagues of mine carrying a backpack loaded with gear. The small camera bag forces me to concentrate on extracting everything I can from what’s contained in it. It in no longer too small.
The same philosophy is true in learning post processing editing. It is just as important to study as much as possible about PS or LR, for example, as it is to know about every feature on one’s camera. Your courses and tutorial are indispensable to me in my quest to become a better image editor. Even though I spend hours editing images, unless I perform the same task repeatedly, as one might be required to do as a professional, I forget some of the steps when attempting to use a technique not used for a while. Your single focused, technique tutorials are perfect to refresh knowledge of a mechanism to accomplish a specific result.
More is not better (except for knowledge). Clear instructions on how to utilize the tools already in one’s possession fills the ticket. Carry on, brother.
Thought about buying your Creative Blending Course for On1 but decided not to because it does not include the PS content (creating own textures and 10 brushes) that are included in the PS course. Both are the same price yet PS course has more. I mainly use On1 but do occasionally use PS and would like the additional content.
Hi Gary. Anything besides course material is an “extra” bonus of sorts. You’re paying for the course education and I created it for ON1 and it should be the same price. I can’t really do much about the fact that they don’t support some of the more custom and creative things that Photoshop does.
Matt, you are absolute right! So why am I still considering the 5 day deal? — because I can think about it for 4 more days! Now you’ve given me food for thought, so only time will tell. Thank you for your terrific training — I’m enjoying your texture blending course.
You expressed my sentiments exactly! I’ve had a ton of emails for the 5 Day Deal as well and have eyed the offerings but have to admit that most of them would languish without me ever looking at them. Quality over quantity!
Less is more? Is that your grip truck?
Matt I have bought your course on texture blending. I truly enjoyed working with them and some of the animals images I had. I saw you mentioned that you are using them in your landscapes. Do you go into that part of blending in your new course?
Hi Frances, the texture blending course you own already has a tutorial on that. Thanks
Great article and I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for all your tutorials; I’ve been following you for years.
You’re in my neck of the woods this weekend and I’m sorry that it’s so rainy here. I hope that you are still around Sunday when the weather is supposed to be better. Good luck with the move.
I grew up shooting with film so I always used the ‘less is more’ concept. And now that I shoot in digital I continued use that concept. I do not use my camera like a machine gun shooting everything in sight with the hope of getting a good shot. Old school I guess, but it works for me. If you have a chance to check out my website (mostcool.net) you’ll see the results.
Thanks for all your wonderful youtube videos.
Yes! This. My email has been inundated with the “big deal,”
and it got me thinking about your first fresh start.
You talked about choosing one system and using that, Lightroom or OnOne for example, but not both. Simplifying.
Photography processing as been so much easier since then.
Anyway, I looked at all the courses and presets, etc. and thought, these would become digital clutter, then outdated. And then I’d regret spending the money, ha.
Less really can be more.
It always amazes me when I get those emails offer 1500 presets for….by the time you try all the presets, you could have learned the program! 😉
Couldn’t agree more. Give everyone the good stuff a d throw away the chaff!
That’s why, at least for the time being, I’ve stopped buying tutorials. I have several that I’ve purchased and still haven’t finished them. I need to be DOING now more than learning. Having said that, the most oft used preset in my set are your Matt K’s Spotlight presets. Most helpful!
Matt, great reminder, I got the point where I don’t use presets anymore “just because I found that there are too many, and sometimes I cannot tell the difference between the presets and I get frustrated”. Good comments and a good message to keep in mind – thank you!
Matt, you are onto something big. I agree with you and always practiced the philosophy that less can be more.
Hi, I agree with Pierre…..very good point.
And the van………MattK styling………….is this for Mrs K’s Christmas present???
or to house your mobile studio????
Well any other interpretation wasn’t addressed above?
Enjoy the journey back to Florida
Did you read the last part of the post about me helping my brother move? 🙂
I completely agree with you “Less is more”. But … you do not apply this beautiful principle with the price of your tutorials and packs. Especially since, considering the very large number that you are selling, the price could be “less”.
Hi. I’m sorry you feel that way. I price competitively and for the education you get, and the attention that I give, I feel the prices are very fair.
Upper crust pizza in Boston. Great pizza and my son is a principal in the chain
@mike holstein – LOVE Upper Crust, but did they work though all their tax liability problems??? Used to be one in Waltham on Moody St and it is sorely missed. 🙁