Before + After | Editing makes a difference | Business | For Photographers

I've been wanting to create a post like this for a while now, mostly because I think these kinds of posts are so much fun to look at myself! 

Being a photographer is so much more than clicking the shutter.  I'll save that stuff for another post but for now, I'd love to pull back the curtain a bit and show you some behind-the-scenes-editing of my images and how I got my images to where they are now! Note: I have not "arrived" anywhere by any means, I've just really started to embrace just how refreshing progress is :)

When I first began photographing sessions, I felt this crazy desperation to create a consistent portfolio and define my "style".  This resulted in WAY too many hours of tweaking images and constantly doubting my work.  I can remember more seasoned photographers advising that my particular style would emerge after plenty of time and practice.  As a person who seriously struggles with patience, you can imagine that I found this advice particularly irritating....

BUT, they were right! I can confidently say that after 3 years of shooting consistently, I feel like I've finally found my "style".  Now, creating consistent images is SOOOO much more than applying presets! Consistency begins in-camera and I've found through lots of trial and error, that getting my images right in-camera (straight out of camera - SOOC, for short) is the key to building a more uniform portfolio.  

As far as presets go, I've definitely experimented with several different options but I've eventually settled on creating my own presets based on the same tweaks I kept making over and over again.  Overall, I definitely prefer my images to have a lighter, warmer feel but I really try to create images that will stand the test of time and remain beautiful many years from now.  Don't get me wrong, there are many different styles out there right now and it can be really challenging not to experiment with the latest trends.  As artists, the most important thing to keep in mind is to create the work YOU love, the right clients will be excited to hop on board with you! :)

Since I do the bulk of my editing in Adobe Lightroom, I'll focus on the basic sliders there as I describe the steps I've taken to edit my photos.  I've also included my settings below each image if that sort of information is helpful for you.  

So here we go! This is one of my favorite images from Abby's senior session! I LOVE shooting back-lit images because I really like what the light does to the grass/trees.  This set-up was perfect for my style of imagery and of course, Abby is gorgeous, so that always helps :)

SOOC on the left, Final Edit on the right

Canon 24-70mm, 70mm, 2.8 aperture, 1/1600 Shutter Speed, 100 ISO

Canon 24-70mm, 70mm, 2.8 aperture, 1/1600 Shutter Speed, 100 ISO

Editing: Increase exposure + warmth, highlights down, mess with green color panel to my liking (I'm really picky about my greens) and BOOM, finished!  Side Note: I rarely bust out this lens for portrait sessions but when you're working with large animals, being able to zoom in and out is key :)

Okay so next up: George and Brittany are perhaps two of the finest folks I've gotten to photograph. I mean seriously, look at how cute they are together.  Nonetheless, for this image I strategically cropped to remove distracting elements, increased both the exposure and warmth, and decreased the blacks slightly to maintain depth in the image.  Finally, I played with the blue color sliders to get just the right color of blue on Brittany's dress. Again, these two are backlit and the light streaming through that tree is simply dreamy :)

 Canon 50mm, 1.8 Aperture, 1/1000 Shutter Speed, ISO 160

 Canon 50mm, 1.8 Aperture, 1/1000 Shutter Speed, ISO 160

Heena and Matt are another set of cuties that I loved creating images for! You guessed it: increase exposure and warmth, decrease the saturation of greens slightly and then done! 

Side note: I tend to underexpose my images slightly in camera so that I don't over-expose (and lose) any of the detail in the highlights.  The histogram on the back of my camera is my best friend during sessions so that I can double check my work! 

 Canon 50mm, 1.8 Aperture, 1/1000 Shutter Speed, ISO 160

 Canon 50mm, 1.8 Aperture, 1/1000 Shutter Speed, ISO 160

Black and White BONUS!

Converting an image to black and white is a decision that I make for several different reasons.  It is a super helpful tool for drawing your eye to the emotion of a scene and this image of Anna's Dad giving her away on her wedding day does just that! Your eye should go directly to Anna + her Dad (hopefully!) and I love how the detail in his facial features really stands out! This image is also a great candidate for black and white conversion because it has a nice balance of black and white tones throughout the image. 

Canon 70-200mm, 70mm, 2.8 aperture, 1/200 shutter speed, ISO 2000

Canon 70-200mm, 70mm, 2.8 aperture, 1/200 shutter speed, ISO 2000

Okay last one! Leah was probably one of the happiest brides ever! She literally had that smile on her face the entire day and watching her and her ladies get ready made me want to put on a bridesmaid's dress and join in the fun!  As you can see though, her getting ready room had tons of crazy lighting colors going on and I definitely didn't want Leah to end up looking like an orange/green pumpkin.... (generally not a good look for the bride) The fix? Black and White! Not only does it eliminate all of those color casts, but now it's so much easier to see the joy in this photo.  Photographer happy dance :)

Canon 24-70mm, 35mm, 2.8 aperture, 1/200 shutter speed, ISO 400

Canon 24-70mm, 35mm, 2.8 aperture, 1/200 shutter speed, ISO 400

That's all folks! Hopefully this gives you a better idea of just how important (and fun!) the behind-the-scenes work of running a photography business can be! As always, feel free to email me with any thoughts or questions that you may have!