January 22, 2018
Talk about a can of worms…. Just like the number of colors in a Crayola Crayon Box, every photographer has their own unique way of editing and delivering digital images. To help clear things up, here’s how I do it.
There are 3 stages of photo editing.
Straight out of Camera
This is the image that the camera takes. It’s solid, looks great, but could use some love. Cameras nowadays are incredibly intelligent, and because of that photographers rely on some automatic features to allow them to focus on capturing great content and not worry so much about being technically perfect. I’m personally very OCD and type-A so I try to get it as close to 100% right in camera as possible because that means less time editing later on. Two minutes moving a stick or stray piece of hair during the session saves at least 10 minutes trying to remove it later in Photoshop. These images are a little flat, lack “punch” and are essentially the starting point for a photographer to really go nuts.
This is where I do the following edits: White Balance, Exposure, Contrast, Color Toning, Shadow & Highlight Adjustment, Sharpening, Noise Reduction, and straightening horizon lines. These adjustments are for the entire image as a whole AKA I make an adjustment and the entire image is affected. If there’s a giant stop sign, my lightstand, or a squirrel doing the Macarena in the background that’s really distracting, I’ll remove it, but I won’t be doing the nitty gritty zits, stray hairs, twigs & leaves, or detailed editing here. These edits are great for images smaller than an 8×12″.
This is when I open Photoshop and really get specific. I’ll do local adjustments like bring in more sky detail, remove leaves and sticks from the ground, clean up the skin and fly-away hairs, give the Macarena squirrel a hat, and perform localized color toning and exposure tweaks. These are edits that are really necessary if an image is seen as an 8×12″ or larger.
Here’s what they look like side by side with an example image.
Pretty significant difference right? There’s also a significant difference in the time it takes to edit each image.
Straight out of Camera or SOOC: Instant
Global Edits: 5 to 10 minutes
Detailed Editing: 10 to 45 minutes
Now, why does this matter with image delivery? I give my clients all the digital files, but with Global Edits only because if we’re honest, 99% of the time, the images will end up on Facebook and Instagram and that’s it. At that scale, no one is going to notice those itty-bitty distractions. It also means my image delivery turnaround is 2 weeks instead of 3 months.
So when do I do the Detailed Editing? When a client orders a print. I put tremendous value in prints because I think they are the utmost, perfect way to showcase your amazing images. It’s why I use premier printing labs for my clients’ investment! Most of my clients get prints between an 11×17″ and 24×36″ and they will absolutely notice that bit of leftover muffin on their cheek at those sizes. I also provide that detailed edit digital file with the purchase of the print, so they’re not just getting the wall art, they’re getting the full resolution digital file with it.
I find this process to be the most cost and time efficient for myself and my clients. Images are turned around quickly at the optimal quality for their specific use. Unless otherwise specified, this is the process I employ for all my sessions – portrait, engagement, and wedding!
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me directly! I’d be happy to further explain.