Editing photos is a big topic and “editing” can cover MANY different scenarios. Are my photos edited? Of course! So I figured I’d go over different editing terms, styles and what I do in hopes of clearing it all up!
I shoot in RAW which, to me, is the best way to shoot photo sessions. But, the average person can’t view a RAW file. The RAW file gives me more information to work with when I’m editing your file. And then when I’m done I transfer it to a jpeg file–something you’re used to getting your digital images in!
Raw photos tend to not have much contrast to them. They look muddy to me:
The left photos is SOOC (straight out of camera). When I pull it into Lightroom I can adjust it and make it brighter, change the white balance (the coloring–like when you shoot inside and the photos look orange, it’s because of the lighting in the room, I can change that in post production), and do other edits.
For this particular photo, I found the trees, poles and the “hole” at the top distracting. I took it into Photoshop and did some additional editing:
To me the image has a lot less distracting points now.
Here’s another one:
The coloring was adjusted, her eyes were popped a bit to bring out the color and all the distracting twigs were taken away.
Here’s a couple of examples of white balance before and after:
Her dress shouldn’t be that orange color like above, so shooting in RAW and bringing the image into Lightroom allows me to adjust the coloring the way it should be.
In studio, I’m usually editing out scuff marks on the background paper and doing minor edits here and there:
On the one above, you can see where I added in an ear to the monkey and cleaned up the paper.
For a typical portrait session, I go through all the images and compare them side by side and narrow the images down to about 30-50 of the best. I take many more images than this, but I’m usually overshooting to try and get the best smiles and not end up with all blinking images.
Crazy enough, newborn photos probably get edited more heavily than any other session I do.
With the one below, I tilted the photo, changed the coloring a tint and also edited out little scratch marks and peeling that most all babies have.
For the one below, dad didn’t like the little “tail”so I took it out and rounded out the little bundle:
The little boy above and most all my newborns also get a skin airbrushing to give them that beautiful soft baby skin that we, as parents see and remember.
For safety, I also do editing on other poses. For example, babies don’t naturally hold their heads on their hands. I have to shoot several frames and edit those together:
The shot below is 3 images edited together to remove momma’s hands:
I do a lot of editing and things behind the scenes that people don’t see or realize that happen. For example, the shot below, I knew what I wanted but I needed some help to create it and had to merge the two images in Photoshop to make it happen.
Sometimes the sky just doesn’t want to cooperate, so I have to make the magic myself:
I do a lot of specialty edits sometimes to create the vision I see in my head, like below. I typically do not charge extra for this.
I sometimes get special requests, especially from couples. I’ve been getting a lot of shark requests lately, but here’s a Jurassic Park themed one:
Matte and OTHER Colorings
I also like my images to POP, I like crisp blacks and clean whites. I feel that no matter what, this will always be acceptable and will never look dated. A lot of photographers these days have their own style, many of them have a golden hue to them or a matte feel or a vintage film effect. Below is an example of many versions of this:
Most of the above images have a “matte” feel, which makes a less crisp black. Some make the colors too saturated or yucky feeling to me.
Below left is the original image. Middle image has a golden hue and the right is vintage.
For me, I will edit all my images in the standard color pop that will always be classic and never dated. BUT, I do love an occasional color play and will create a duplicate of the image and do something fun with it. But you have BOTH copies. So ten years down the road you won’t look at your images and think how dated they look or “that was the style”.
With all sessions, I typically go through and crop or rotate as needed. If there is an obvious zit or scratch (kids always love getting bruised up before a shoot!) I’ll edit those out. I’ll change the white balance if needed. And I’ll usually go through my favorites and change them to a special coloring (as a second copy) and maybe create some magic with it if need be.
People love to say “oh you can just fix it in Photoshop.” Honestly, this drives photographers crazy! LOL. It takes a lot of time to go through and “fix” things. When you get 1,000 wedding images, and you have a zit or a bruise, I will do my best to clean it up when I see it (usually on special portraits), but usually, unless I am printing wall art for you (or something of the like), that’s a lot of EXTRA work to put on your photographer. My suggestion would be to have a makeup artist cover scratches, acne or tattoos you don’t want seen.
So do I edit my photos? YES! That’s one of the reasons you pay a professional photographer to take your portrait! Thus why it takes a couple of days to see your images (or a month or so for a wedding).
I hope this helped you see what I see and understand the process!