The Photo Editing Process

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Your photographer will tell you at the end of your session that your edited images will be provided in High Resolution on a Flash Drive or a DVD, but what does editing really mean?  This seems to be one of the most magically mysterious aspects of photography, and it differs with every photographer as the editing plays a vital role in distinguishing their own personal photography style.  Some photographer prefer a vintage look to their photographs, others like bright colors that pop in contrast to the background, and some leave their images fairly unchanged.  There is no right way to be an artist, and there is no right edit a photo, it is all a matter of personal interest, even if the photograph do not comply to the photography rules and even if the histogram on the image indicates that your brights are too bright.

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The end of  your fun and fantastic photo session marks the beginning of the editing process, the final touches on each work of art and this is how I go about this process.

1.  Culling:  Each standard photo session render between 400 and 500 images (Weddings average 1500 images).  Not all of these images are worth keeping or flattering, for example, when the subjects eyes are closed, or busy saying something rendering a quite funny looking image.  The photographs are imported into Lightroom, followed by a manual rating process at which time I rate every single photograph from 0 to 5 stars, 0 being non-usable, and 5 stars being goosebumps from head to toe.  I will start by editing all the images rated as 5 stars, not only because it’s more exciting but also because these will be the images that will potentially be printed, on canvas or otherwise, or make into your family album or photo book, and they need special attention.

2.  Exposure:  Although great care is taken to ensure that each photograph is correctly exposed in camera, the exposure might not always be correctly exposed for printing purposes.  Images displayed digitally on your computer screen very rarely look exactly the same on print, with the color spectrum created by a printer being much more constrained that what is displayed on screen.  This means that I have to edit the shadow tones and highlights very carefully, and calibrate my screen precisely, to ensure that the printer recreate exactly what is displayed on screen.  During this process I also ensure that the best possible crop is used to ensure that each image is pleasing to the eye.

3.  Natural look:  Light comes in so different color casts, and our eyes are remarkably good at adapting to them and interpreting what color we are supposed to be seeing.  The camera sensor however, needs a little bit of help in this front.  Shade looks blue, tungsten light looks orange, and the light beneath a canapé of trees will look green.  While the goal is not to diminish the unique light colors completely, but I do want you to look like YOU, with the correct skin tone and not a with green or orange color cast from a reflective light source.

4.  Retouching:  In the photography industry, this is a very controversial subject and it has been said that only fashion photography is really open to retouching, we all know that models in photographs has been photoshopped right?  But do you really want to see the pimple on your chin on your wedding day, for the rest of you life?  So my policy is simple, temporary blemishes will be removed, permanent characteristics stay.

5.  Background:  The background of a photograph might not be as important as the main subject, but tell that to photo bomber pulling funny faces in the background while your portrait is being taken.  I use only Prime lenses during photo shoots, and this allows for a lovely bokeh (blurred background), but ever so often, there will be something in be background that need to be removed.  Together with removing the unsightly objects from the background, I also ensure that the colors look remarkable and that it ties in nicely with the whole collection of photographs done on the day.

6.  Black and White:  As a rule, I convert every single image to Monochrome as well.  I absolutely love black and white images and feel that it simplifies your images and showcases your sole.  I do some exposure editing once as I did with the full color images, and double check that the crop used is the best choice artistically.

7.  Resizing:  Once all the editing is complete, all the photographs are resized to a lower resolution for easy upload onto social media.  The high resolution and the low resolution images are then presented to my clients in two separate folders.

8.  Photo books:  Should the client opt for the printing of a photo book, the selected images are imported to a different software program for the designing of the photo book.  I take extra care to ensure that the images have a certain flow to them, tell the story, and work nicely together on every single page, after which the client will always approve it before printing.

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