What is Editing?

If you’ve had your photos taken with me recently, then you know that it can sometimes take a while to “edit” your pictures.  But what, exactly, is involved in editing?  And why does it take so long?  Everything I’m going to explain below is done to each and every image that I give my customers.

First, here is the shot taken right out of the camera.  This is where most people stop.

Next, I adjust the image in Adobe Camera Raw, because I shoot all of my images in Raw format.  I make a few adjustments here; exposure, vibrance, fill light, contrast, etc.

Next, I fix the skin.  I remove blemishes (but never natural beauty marks) and smooth things out a bit.  This can sometimes be time consuming, as I remove each blemish individually using the spot healing brush in photoshop, and then use a method involving manually “painting” over the skin to smooth it out.  I also fix any harsh under-eye shadows.  At this point, I would also do some teeth whitening if needed.

Now, I’m going to work on the overall lighting of the image.  This mostly involves using curves layers in photoshop and is pretty quick.

Next up are the eyes.  I sharpen them, and I use a curves layer to make them a bit more intense.  Sometimes I also remove extra redness from them.  In this case, each eye was lit differently, so I tried to make them more consistent.

Next is the easiest and most rewarding part.  I run MCP Actions Fusion set, and play around with the different color combinations available to me.  It never ceases to amaze me how much this can enhance my images.

For this image, I also decided to crop it.  Usually I would do this at the beginning, but I wanted to show you my process first.

At this point, I save my image as a full resolution JPEG.  Next, I run another MCP Action to resize my image for facebook, sharpen it for online viewing, and add a watermark.

Here’s the final before and after for you, since you know I love those!

So there you have it.  A fully edited image.  I do this for each image, first in color, then in black and white (although not as much is required for B&W since most of the beginning edits remain the same).  So for each photo shoot I do, I perform this basic process at least 15-20 times.  Each individual edit takes me between 5 and 10 minutes, depending on the image.  Honestly, the price of any photographers photo shoot isn’t so much getting them during the shoot… it’s the editing afterwards.

Editing is also the major difference between getting photos done by individuals rather than at a large box store.  They may edit a little, but they will charge an arm and a leg to correct things like removing blemishes or whitening teeth.

Here is another example that took a bit longer.  I performed most of the edits listed above, but also needed to combine 2 images in order to get everyone’s faces looking great.  I also edited out mom as she was holding the baby.

And another I recently edited of my cousin, Sarah.

It’s always easier to edit when you start off with a strong image, but I do feel that it is a very important step to any image that I take.  I love how it just gives that finishing touch to the images and really makes them pop.

I hope you enjoyed this little peek behind the scenes!  If you’re a photographer, I’d love to hear if you do a similar process, less editing, or more editing than I’ve shown here!

You may have noticed a few recommended sites on my sidebar, and there happens to be a new one, called Shoot Fly Shoot.  I’ve been familiar with Kevin and Layla Palmer’s home blog, The Lettered Cottage, for some time, but just recently found out that they also have a photography blog.  They offer camera and photoshop video tutorials for a very reasonable price (to the tune of $69!).  I haven’t advertised on my blog since I switched it over to wordpress, but I thought that this was worth advertising for those who would like to learn to use their camera better and get it off of the auto setting (and for the sake of honesty, there is a monetary benefit in it for me)!



  • Bethany
    Posted at 10:21h, 24 July Reply

    THIS is why you are a professional, you take the time to fine tune until everything is perfect. Love the before and afters, and if ever get photoshop (right now I just have Picasa, grr) I’ll check out that “shoot fly shoot” as well. :)

    • Erin
      Posted at 10:25h, 24 July Reply

      Thank you! You are always so kind about my work :) There are a lot of free programs that can do some good editing, too. Picasa can do a decent job, I think! Another good option is Photoshop Elements – not free, but MUCH cheaper and still very powerful. Also, shoot fly shoot does have tutorials on using your camera, no photoshop required :)

  • shan
    Posted at 10:31h, 24 July Reply

    if you’ve never done a photo shoot from beginning to end, there’s no way to understand what all is involved. i know i never did until i started doing it. i always love seeing posts like this explaining things so people better understand. :)

    people wonder why we charge so much when we get prints for so little…but from the time you get the first email to do a shoot, until the time you deliver the photos to the client…it’s a lotta work. ;)

    • Erin
      Posted at 10:33h, 24 July Reply

      Thanks for commenting Shannon! It’s so true. And the more you learn about photography and photoshop, it seems to take longer to edit rather than less time!

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