What goes into editing a photo?

In an earlier post I talked about the importance of choosing a photographer that had experience in editing. I would like to first say that I am not a professional Photoshop Guru by any means. I have a specific style that I edit most of my photos in and know the routine pretty well. But when selecting a photographer and going with the “cheapest” option you again are getting what you pay for. It is easy to point the camera at someone and click the button and BAM you have a photo. But at times that is not what the client is looking for. Often times the photo does not come out exactly how you want it to and you need to make changes in a program after the fact.

I shoot in RAW. What this means is that I shoot in a format that collects all the data of the image in a bigger than normal file. All DSLR cameras can shoot this but often times people starting out avoid shooting in RAW because when they see the photo it is less than flattering. Shooting in RAW the colors are going to be a lot more muted and dull. The colors might be slightly off and overall the photo just does not have that POP you are wanting. This is perfectly normal and it is the way the camera processes a RAW file. Most point and shoot cameras and our phones shoot in JPEG which means the camera edits the photo for you providing you with a decent looking shot. The problem with JPEG though is that you are not getting all the detail from the image. You are only getting what the camera thinks you want. If you want to change something later in post you have a harder time doing this because not all the data is there.

Below you will find two photos. These are of a friend of mine that I shot for her Professional head shot at work. The first photo is the RAW file. This is exactly how the image came out of the camera without any work. You can see the photo is kind of dark, the colors are muted and overall it just does not give you any feeling at all. PLUS it does not accurately represent how she looked that day. Our eyes receive detail a lot differently. So at times you want make the image look as real as possible.

0E7A2697 - Version 2

Talking with Liz there were a few things that she wanted edited for her final photo and personal I wanted to make sure i captured her eyes. This first photo does not do her justice when it comes to her eyes. So here is how my flow usually works.
1.) I will lighten or darken the overall image based on my tastes and how the camera took the shot.
2.) I will often times makes my black slightly blacker and my whites slightly whiter.
3.) I might mess with my shadows and if there are dark shadows I will pull those out giving more detail to the overall photo.
4.) Next I will focus on the main subject in the image. In this case it would be Liz’s face. I will often start with some skin smoothing and lightening of the face to ensure that is where the eyes are drawn to.
5.) Next I will work on the eyes. In this case i really wanted to bring out her eyes so I lightened those up and made them POP a little more.
6.) Next I might add a vignette to the image to continue drawing your eyes in to the main focus but in this case i did not mess with any vignetting.
7.) Finally based on a conversation with client if they are wanting something removed (a pimple or blemish) for example or sometimes they ask to have their cheeks brought in a little bit as another example. I don’t always like performing these tasks just because it is not who they are at the time of the shooting but when asked I will often times make those changes for them. In Liz’s case we only made slight changes that you will see in the final image. All of these changes occur in a second program called Photoshop.

In the case of Liz’s photo above I spent about 6 minutes editing this file alone. Keep in mind that this is all something you pay for when you book a photographer. You don’t just book them to take the photos and hand them over. If that was the case you would NOT be happy with your end result and would be asking for a refund. Just something to consider when that initial “sticker price” shock factor kicks in with booking any photographer.

Now for the results. Hope you enjoy

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