Talk about a can of worms! Just like the number of colors in a Crayola Crayon Box, every photographer has a unique way of image editing and delivery of the photos. To help clear things up, here’s how I do it.
Image Editing Levels
There are three stages of photo editing.
- Straight out of the camera
- Global Edits
- Detailed Edits
Straight out of Camera
This is the image that the camera takes. It’s solid, looks good, 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 spent moving a stick or stray piece of hair during the session saves at least 10 minutes at my desk trying to remove it in Photoshop. These images are a little flat, lack “punch,” and are essentially the starting point for a photographer to 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 a change, and the whole image is affected. If there’s a giant stop sign, my lightstand, or a squirrel doing the Macarena in the background that’s 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 get specific. I’ll make 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 edits are necessary if an image is an 8×12″ or larger size.
Here’s what they look like side by side with an example image.
A pretty significant difference, right? There’s also a substantial difference in the time it takes to edit each image.
Straight out of Camera or SOOC: Instant
Global Edits: five to ten minutes
Detailed Editing: fifteen to sixty minutes
Delivery of Edited Images
Now, why does this matter with image delivery? Depending on the package you book with me, you may only get images with Global Edits or Detailed Edits. How do you know what you’ll need?
If you’re only desire is to post images on Instagram, Facebook, or your Website’s blog, then you’ll probably only need Global Edits. If you want to print your images or if they’ll be used at large sizes (marketing materials, website banner images, and Headshots for speaking gigs) then you’ll want to go with Detailed Edits.
I’ve built my services to accommodate both needs. Branding Portraits include Global Edits since most of these clients only need content for their websites and social feeds. Creative Portraits and Headshots include a session fee only. This way, clients only buy what they want and because both of those image services typically produce images that get printed and need detailed editing to really complete the photographs.
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.
If you have any questions, leave a comment or contact me directly! I’d be happy to explain further.