The Road To Creative Choices

Have you ever sat on a photo for a while? I mean a long while before you’re willing to post.

You’re just not sure. You’re stuck on deciding whether the exposure is just right, or whether a FJ Neo 100% color ratio with 100% grain size at 35mm FullAP will work perfectly?

Will this be ok?

I promise it will. Let me explain.

The Never Ending Struggle Of Making Creative Choices

As creatives, we hold our work to extremely high standards. We constantly create, only to inevitably trash most of our work.

Why? Is it the ego, or is it the everlasting love/hate relationship with not being able to choose between a silly yet beautiful Instagram filter?

We come to a tipping point of decision making, from time to time I see wonderfully talented creators who stop making something just because they aren’t sure of its value.

Will this be good enough? Will this be successful? They think about the idea or look at the work so much that they stop working.  

Over time I’ve tried to change my mindset a bit. Not change it entirely, but I want to stay grounded. I want to keep why I do this close to my heart.

However, I also want to understand the business; I want to be able to make a choice when it’s necessary. I want to be able to make a decision quickly when it is key in the pursuit forward of my work and my team’s work.

As a creative, I understand how being proud of the work you’re producing and eventually publishing for all to see can sometimes feel like the epicenter of every creative decision you make. Put down the ego. It’s been weighing you down anyway.

Instead, use that newfound creative freedom to strive for excellence, not perfection.

Why Is This Important?

Working in New York City, I’ve quickly learned that prompt and concise creative choices are key factors in the overall success of your work. Whether sitting with clients or my team, meetings are tight and it’s extremely important to decide what’s best quickly.

But it’s also ensuring the quick delivery of those potent decisions that will create an atmosphere promoting leadership.

Personally, when I’m faced with an important creative decision like choosing which scene to place in our corporate short or what the outline should look like for our next treatment, I will just make a decision and put the scene in without thinking too much about it.

Halting the work over minute details can be detrimental in the long run.

There will always be a portion of my mind wanting to try and choose something that I am proud of. But, at the end of the day, this will change. Other people will provide input.

And although I often feel that my opinions lead to the best creative choices, they are not the final result in the collective’s opinion.

Making those early decisions get the ball rolling. Once the work has been created and the paint is on paper, others are much more willing to provide creative feedback on the work.

The Struggle Is Real

I want to share a photo. This is my friend Emilia. A wonderful person who I went to school with, worked with, and recently had BBQ with in New York City.


She’s a wonderful photographer with a creative eye anyone could appreciate. Every so often she will post a picture that strikes minimally and gives off a sense of style that encourages me to improve and simply do better.

Here we have a photo featured on her Instagram, @emilimilia. It’s the same photo but with two different filters.


Here is a little interview on why Emilia did what she did.

Why did you choose color over black and white?

Emilia: I love the combination of amber and teal! For this reason, when an image contains strong oranges & blues, I aim to highlight these colors rather than choose a monochromatic look.

In this image, I really wanted to emphasize the rich warm tones of the leather shoes.

Does the black and white have great qualities as well?

Emilia: Applying a black and white look to this image put a heavy emphasis on the harsh shadows/lighting of the day. This also placed less attention on the building tonality in the background, which I did not want to lose.

Would you say it truly matters when using general filters for Instagram?

Emilia: When choosing Instagram filters, keep in mind the cohesive look or theme of your page. I tend to pick colors/filters based on the individual look of the image depending upon when subject matter I would like to highlight.

Do you think the average viewer distinguishes those qualities when the above photo is color or black and white?

Emilia: I think viewers on Instagram, or other photo-based platforms like Pinterest, absolutely distinguish between the qualities of black and white vs. color.

Using Instagram is a great way to generate feedback on what editing style or image works for your audience. With that being said, the most important viewer of your page is yourself!

One Day, It Just Clicked

I have flipped between two or three filters countless times. Not knowing which one to use, it became so frustrating because I wanted to share the same photo twice.

Creatively speaking, and the following the basic social media rules, one shouldn’t post the same picture multiple times.

They each had qualities that I enjoyed, but I just couldn’t decide on which to choose. I would go to friends and colleagues and ask, “Which one?” I repeated the process over and over until frustration won out and I abandoned the photo in my drafts.

It’s a trivial feeling, but deep down it’s disheartening not to feel confident in your work. Asking for help is always a good option, but when the work becomes a draft, it’s likely to be forgotten.

Then, one day, it just clicked. I became exhausted spending so much time on this.

I said to myself, “So what? It’s just a different version of something nice. Is it really that important?”

No. Getting starting, creating progress, and improving are much more vital.

This is why I try to produce multiple videos every week. Will they be the next top trending video on the internet? Hopefully, but probably not.

But by doing this every week and making mistakes, I improve my craft, and the mistakes make me better at what I do.

In The End, It Matters … But It Doesn’t Matter

There are plenty of people who would choose the full color over the black and white and vice versa.

Halting the work over minute details can be detrimental in the long run. It can slow your potential and discourage you from creating something truly inspirational.

As I’ve said before, don’t let the little details slow you down. Sometimes unintentional details, overlooked flaws, and creative compromises flow together to create something unexpected.

Typically I shoot my videos on a Canon 70D, which is a decent HD camera but serves as much more of an ergonomic camera.

I choose to sacrifice quality over the ability to work faster. But to my surprise, people comment all the time on the quality of my videos and don’t believe I’m shooting on a 70D.

All these decisions shouldn’t be over analyzed. Especially when making creative choices on something like Instagram and getting started on your own photographer’s journey.

Overall, the process of making creative choices and learning from your mistakes will make you great.

Resources like XEQUALS always have something to offer; they have products that can improve your daily workflow and a community full of ideas to get the ball rolling.

I am constantly exploring new looks, new filters, and new themes. Anything that could inspire or motivate me to do better. An easy example is The XEQUALS Platform, a variety of filters for Photoshop and Lightroom.

It’s an effective and highly creative start to any project in my opinion. Flipping through each preset is always a great option when working with a new batch of headshots or cat photos for your Instagram feed!

At the end of the day, just make a decision. It’s your work and your initiative. Emilia could have chosen to go with black and white, but she chose color.

Either way, when I scrolled and liked her photo, I would have had the same reaction no matter which filter she used.

“That’s a damn good shot.”

Now What?

The next time you’re presented with making creative choices, don’t think too hard about it. Make the choice. Capture your image, use XEQUALS to get those creative juices flowing, and then march forward with confidence.

Maxwell Ridgeway

Max is a Sr. Video Producer for IBM's interactive experience and the new Blueberry Team which focuses on online media and commercial content. Max has dedicated years to his passion; this has inspired an exceptional video workflow. In his spare time, he enjoys the continuous flow of his social media personality on YouTube.