When I was a younger photographer, I did not believe in Photoshop. I mean, not to say I thought it was a unicorn or vampire or something, I just didn’t believe it was a tool I needed. Let’s be real -I actually had a bit of a disdain for it. Maybe because I learned how to shoot before the huge digital revolution, and from what I knew and saw, Photoshop was used to make your photos look COMPLETELY different! Some photographers do this, and my hats off to them. Photoshop is a lot of work and you can create some really dramatic images. I was determined to not need it, and believed that if I was a good photographer I WOULDN’T need it because I knew how to use my camera. I’ve since learned that isn’t always entirely true, and I’ve come around to the dark side so to speak.
Probably about 5 years ago, I learned that not all “photoshop” is bad, and if I wanted to take my images to the next level I was going to need it. I would study the photos of a few photographers I knew and wonder why everything they shot just looked so much better than mine. I was trying, I had been shooting for about 10 years, why couldn’t I do it too? That’s when I learned that a lot of photographers use editing software not necessarily to change the look of a photo, but to enhance what is already there. Sometimes you grab a shot you weren’t expecting so your settings aren’t exactly where they should have been, or the lighting changes suddenly. Post-processing can fix this and probably save the image! Digital images can oftentimes look a little flat, and adding a little more light, contrast, or fixing minor details can take an okay photo and make it good, or take a good photo and make it superb.
I actually have learned to really enjoy editing my images. It teaches me things about shooting, what I should watch for when I’m in a session. I’ve learned that one of my legs must be shorter than the other because I cannot seem to take an image that isn’t just ever so crooked. Mainly though, I love the transformation of watching my images get a little more oomph and take them from “this one is nice” to “OH MY GOODNESS I MIGHT DIE BECAUSE THIS IS SO AMAZEBALLS”. FYI, this is the actual inner monologue in my head when I’m editing. However, I get so excited when I upload my images into Lightroom (the program I use for editing), and I find the unicorn – the image that doesn’t need any work! 😀
Here are two examples of what might be happening when I’m editing your session:
This first one, I honestly didn’t have to do much. The left photo is fine, and if I couldn’t edit it I would send this file. However, the stairway was a little dark so I brightened the overall image, and then also brightened the shadows a little bit. This allows you to see Mike’s face a little more. Looking back I could have probably smoothed out Tyler’s skirt a little at the bottom and gone in and made the brown leaves on the wall green as well. However, I usually like to do minimal editing so the photos look pretty close to how it was.
This photo has a bigger difference. I did not have a flash with me at this point, as I had not anticipated needing it. We shot 95% of the session outside and this was just something Tyler had mentioned that we were walking through to come back from the park. Because there was no natural light and a lot of yellow paint as well as yellow lights, the first thing I did in post was correct the white balance. I didn’t want Mike and Tyler to look like they were on the Simpsons haha. It’s a little hard to tell but I also removed a person from behind Tyler’s shoulder. Usually I don’t remove people, etc from images. If I can, I try to wait until I can use the subject or scene and position myself to block it out or I just roll with it. This was a tunnel to the subway so there was a bit of foot traffic, and it wasn’t possible. This guy also looked like he was growing out of her arm. So I got rid of him! I considered removing the orange barrel but decided to leave it as it kind of fit with the ambiance.
Overall, my goal when editing is to make your images look as close as possible to how it actually looked when I was looking at you in the moment.
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