observed by Diane » photo journal for those who enjoy vignettes of an ordinary life

One of the Things a Photographer Does AFTER the Photo Session

I have a small illustration to demonstrate one behind-the-scenes segment of my photography business. I hope you find it of interest.

When I talk to you and when you read on my website, my contract, and other print material, and I use the terms “digital negative”, “high resolution”, “edited”, “retouched” it’s important that I clarify what those terms mean. You’ve likely also read in those same places that I take time to edit each and every image. Here is an explanation for what that really means and why I do so.

Many or most images are usually really nice just as they come out of the camera. But those images are RAW, in other words, they are a digital negative. A digital negative can be further enhanced to produce the final product and that’s what I do. It’s really no different than a film negative that then needs to be processed in the dark room. Sometimes the image will need a bit of enhancement by increasing the saturation, perhaps adjusting the clarity or tweak the white balance, and sometimes a bit of added light may add to the overall effect. Here is an illustration of this process showing the before-and-after. The image to the left is my digital negative (straight out of the camera as mentioned above). The same image to the right I took time to examine and retouch in my editing software. The result is a fully retouched image. So even if a client buys a CD from me, it will never be a digital negative but will be a retouched image in high resolution (so it can be printed).

With this image I lightened it up a bit, made a few other minor adjustments, and a tiny bit of a crop. I would have cropped this one quite a bit more but without her hand in the image, the reason for her looking down would not have been apparent so I held back. I could have spent a bit more time and removed some of the distracting background but since the young lady is working on her art, it is apparent she is in her home and not in a studio. But if the background was really cluttered with all kinds of distractions, I would definitely have taken the time to remove it all. Another thing about this example is that technically it would have been much better had the second arm been included in the image and not cut off, but it worked well to show the before-and-after. This is only one image from a regular photo session; there are anywhere from 20-30 and sometimes more proofs to receive this same attention-to-detail for every single photo shoot.

This one image is an example of what I do to each and every image that I select as a proof to post in each client’s gallery of proofs. The same process is necessary so I can have an image printed by my professional print lab or when I provide a disk of images on CD for a client. This is done for every client so the work continues after the initial photo session. So, in other words, every image that a client sees is a fully retouched image. This is also why editing time always takes longer than the actual photo session itself.

It’s for this reason that weddings take so long to process. Imagine taking photos all day and evening and then going through them one-by-one, after they have already gone through the initial elimination process. I must admit that with wedding proofs, it would be a lot easier and much less time consuming to show the proofs as-is and then only do the editing on the images for portraits or to be included in albums. My problem is that I prefer the client sees the final product even if many of those images will never be purchased.

I didn’t mention that, in addition to these edits, I also see certain images that I know will also look great as black & white or may even look better as black & white. In that case, the same process occurs PLUS I convert the image from colour to black & white. Leaving it as-is, is never an option because a straight conversion to black & white always looks very flat. I’ll have to do a demo on the differences in converting to black & white, but that will be another post.

So now when you read on my website or marketing materials, or read in my contract, that you receive a fully retouched image, you have an idea of what that really means. I hope you’ve enjoyed a peek into the behind-the-scenes from after the photo session.

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Marcie - August 15, 2010 - 1:14 pm

Good to remind others of how much invaluable work and effort goes on behind the scenes. Thank-you for this!

Krims@nline.com - August 15, 2010 - 2:55 pm

Yep I totaly agree with Marcie here

Suvarna - August 15, 2010 - 4:07 pm

thanks for sharing your process, it’s important for people to know that this work goes far beyond “the moment it clicks”.