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FAQs: Do You Photoshop Your Images?

One of the questions I get asked all the time in various forms is: “Do you Photoshop photos before you deliver them?” The simple answer?  Not if I can help it! But usually when my clients ask that, that’s not what they’re really asking. What most people really want to know is, “How do you edit the images you take?”

So come behind the scenes with me and let me show you!

During your session or on your wedding day, you’ll see me making adjustments as I go.  Because I use all digital equipment, I have the ability to see how the images are turning out and make adjustments during the shoot to get them as close to perfect as possible!

My camera uses a file format called a RAW file. Unlike the Jpeg, like the file that is created when you take a photo with your cell phone, a RAW file is a huge unfinished file with a lot of info in it! It’s like a big chunk of beautiful wood that still needs to be carved before it will look like a pineapple figurine!  If I sent you RAW files, your phone or computer would get super confused and wouldn’t even know what it was.

The awesome thing about RAW files, and the reason why professional digital photographers use them, is because they have so much more information in them than a regular image file! This gives me more power to make any needed adjustments after the fact.  That said, RAW files are just that – raw and unfinished. They need a bit of help to become a finished work of art.

After your session, I take my memory cards and load the big RAW files onto my laptop. I sort through them and discard the in-between-faces, any out-of-focus images, and duplicates. Once I have them narrowed down to the images I am going to deliver to you, I bring them into a software called Lightroom. Lightroom is a professional photo-editing software made by the same company that makes Photoshop. In fact, I do own Photoshop as a companion to Lightroom.

Once my photos are in Lightroom, I can begin processing or “editing” your images. I make slight adjustments on slider bars to adjust the exposure (how much light), shadows (helps add or take away contrast), and color.  This is similar to how a film photographer takes film and changes aspects of how photos look while processing them in the darkroom!  These adjustments take a “rough draft” to completion! I usually spend 1-2 hours sorting and editing for each hour that I shoot. (That varies but that’s a good average depending on how the light was that day or what all is going on.)

Let me show you!  Yes.  I’m about to show you my UN-EDITED photos!  Here are 3 images from different situations with the original vs. the completed image! Before on the left, after on the right.

showing un-edited brand photo next to edited brand photo

Ok, now hold up.  Before you say, wow Amy you’re a terrible photographer, lemme ‘splain:

  1. I always try to shoot a tad warm (more yellow) and a tad underexposed (too dark) because in post production, its FAR easier to adjust the image cooler and brighter than the other way around!  This is especially important if someone is wearing white because it’s easy to “blow out” or lose the detail of white things if I overexpose by accident.
  2. Additionally, when I bring a RAW file into Lightroom, I have to add a special camera color profile to the file before it even looks like what I saw on my camera screen.  In other words, this actually looks “worse” than what I see on my camera screen because my computer doesn’t know quite how to interpret it yet.

So yes, that image on the left is pretty gross, but I promise it was on purpose! 🙂  You can see that the image on the right is brighter and more realistic, flattering coloring.  All that pretty was hiding in the original file, just waiting to be brought out.

Here’s an example from a recent wedding:

wedding editing before and after

See her dress?  Even though the image feels fairly bright, you can see all the gorgeous detail of the lace!  I’ve trained my eye to notice little things to create a finished final product that flatters my subject and fits my personal style so that my clients get the product that they expect.  My before images generally look a tad bit “flat”, yellow, and underexposed. I edit images in 3 simple steps:

  1. Apply a custom preset to adjust some basic things on every single image.  This is a preset that I created for myself once I figured out what I do to every single image.
  2. Adjust exposure (how bright or dark) and the crop of each image.
  3. Final color tweaks.

Once I love how your images look, I turn them into easy to use jpeg files, upload them to your online gallery, and send you a happy email!

So do you ever use Photoshop?

Yes!  Sometimes it’s unavoidable.  For instance, I will occasionally pull professional headshots into photoshop if I feel that a flyaway hair due to wind is distracting.  It wouldn’t look finished otherwise!  Every once in a while I’ll notice that there’s big house or car in the background of an otherwise gorgeous image that I missed while shooting.  In that case, Photoshop is the tool for the job.  Wake up with a plague sized zit the day of your wedding or session?  I’ll take care of it – no worries!  No need to relive that moment in every portrait!  I’ve got you covered!

Here’s an example of a final image (far right) that could only be accomplished with a little Photoshop magic:

lightroom vs photoshop

Whoah!! Talk about magical!  The middle image has been color adjusted in Lightroom but you can still see a MAJOR problem and that problem is that you can see my apartment in the background.  Yikes! (We photographed this session in the middle of my living room with a backdrop that, in hindsight, was too small to be worth the cost savings.  Ha!)

This was a job for Photoshop so I brought the middle image into Photoshop and then proceeded to digitally extend the backdrop.  I also significantly brightened the backdrop to get the really clean bold look that the client and I were aiming for.

Do you ever give clients the RAW images?

Nope!  Just like a film photographer wouldn’t slap a roll of film into your hand and say, “Well there you go, have a great day!”, I don’t leave my work unfinished either!  The post-processing is just a part of the process of creating the final image and I would never give you an un-finished product!

elopement style wedding at Paine Arts Center and Gardens

Got more questions about how I edit or have other questions related to brand or wedding photography? Message me on Instagram or post on my facebook page – www.facebook.com/amylynnphotostudio. I loving hearing from you! 🙂

<3

Amy

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7/04/2020

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FAQs: Do You Photoshop Your Images?