Photography Editing

How It's Made | Photography Edition

After the photography session, the photographer's job is not over. I often get questions on what I mean when I say "post-production", editing, or retouching. I often end up feeling as though the person asking might be imagining me sitting down, using an online editing app like Instagram, applying filters, wondering how that can take more than an hour.  

I thought I would give a little breakdown on what a photographer means when they say "editing/post-production." Some of this may only relate to the workflow here at Laura Ann Photography but I'm sure it's a similar process for most fine-art photographers.

This is a basic example of hair retouching, as well as how a photo comes to life in the final toning stages.

This is a basic example of hair retouching, as well as how a photo comes to life in the final toning stages.

1. Preparation

Typically the process starts by loading the RAW photo files from a memory card onto a client hard drive. The images are then categorized into folders, at this point I personally began reviewing the untouched, RAW image files taken during the session (this can range between 40-250 images) and begin to eliminate and select the best and most flattering photos from each segment of the session.

2. RAW Photo Processing

Once the top photos have been selected, one-by-one I process the RAW photo's contrast, sharpening, highlights, and shadows, clarity, and color tones as well as perform a quick color and exposure adjustment where needed. Once a basic RAW edit has been made the images are converted into a JPEG file. At which point it can be emailed, viewed, uploaded etc. The chosen images, which can range between 10-50 images are then uploaded to a custom gallery for the client to select their final photos.

3. Skin Retouching

Once an order has been placed the final stages of editing and retouching will begin. The RAW image file is reopened and tweaked, then brought into photoshop for skin, makeup and hair retouching. I begin my retouching process by separating the colors and textures of the image to work on each individually.

I start by evening out the skin tones. I work on the color and tones of the image, at this stage I will work on sampling or masking out specific uneven color tones of the skin. I then move on to the texture and work on any inconsistencies, blemishes,  flaking makeup etc. Any unwanted texture that would not always sit on the skin. A full-frame DSLR paired with a good lens can reveal unflattering details and texture on ones face that wouldn't be noticed in person.

This photo is an example of makeup retouching. Often when a person does their own makeup they don't know how to apply for photography. When this happens i simply take it upon myself to sample and apply the colors that the person intended to show. I do not change colors, location or anything of that nature, I simply follow their original guide. The "before" photo of this example is showing before the photoshop portion of the edit, not before the first RAW process.

This photo is an example of makeup retouching. Often when a person does their own makeup they don't know how to apply for photography. When this happens i simply take it upon myself to sample and apply the colors that the person intended to show. I do not change colors, location or anything of that nature, I simply follow their original guide. The "before" photo of this example is showing before the photoshop portion of the edit, not before the first RAW process.

4. Photo retouching and Dodge and Burn

Once the skin is complete I move onto hair and makeup when these steps are necessary. Once retouching is complete, i move onto a technique called "dodge and burn". This is simply the process of highlighting the highlights and deepening the shadows. It is essentially contour and highlighting...At this stage, i may brighten the eye, contour the cheekbones etc. Once this finished, i move onto working on any unwanted elements in the background. This may be removing, blending, brightening, darkening etc.

5. Color and Toning 

At this stage, I move onto color and toning; this can be a short or long process. I view it as the creative stage of editing. I do not over retouch. I try to be sure the person being photographed is being shown at their best without that being due to over retouching, as this can result in a person resembling nothing of themselves. The steps taken during this process are what takes an image to the next level as a final photo. It is where in my opinion the final look comes to life.

This photo shows a good example of where a photo can start and end when it comes to photography editing/retouching.

This photo shows a good example of where a photo can start and end when it comes to photography editing/retouching.

Unedited photo, straight out of camera

Unedited photo, straight out of camera

unedited maternity photography
This is a pretty big edit, i'm proud of this one.

This is a pretty big edit, i'm proud of this one.

Final photo edit

Final photo edit

Sudbury maternity photography.jpg
sudbury maternity photographers-edited photography

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I repeat this process for 2-10 photographs, which is the range offered in the packages available here at Laura ann Photography

I typically tell my photography clients that photos will take 2 weeks for the final edits and 3-4 weeks for the prints to be ready for pickup or delivery. I have the final prints sent to me so that I can ensure a beautiful final product. Once i receive the final prints, you will be contacted for pick-up, or we will make arrangements for delivery if you are not able to pick-up your order.

If you're interested in photography services in the Greater Sudbury Area, Contact me to discuss the booking process.

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