My Editing Workflow {Post-processing}

 
editing workflow lightroom photoshop logos
 

Editing images it is an art in itself, similar to the work a photographer in the past may have done in the darkroom. Creating these images can be a lengthy process - clicking the shutter button is a only a small part of that. I actually spend more time behind my computer for a session than I do on-location with my camera! 

Before/After; SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) - Not too much is noticeably different between these images, but in addition to a few technical aspects, I think there is a sense of wonder and awe, something almost magical, in the final image. 

Before/After; SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) - Not too much is noticeably different between these images, but in addition to a few technical aspects, I think there is a sense of wonder and awe, something almost magical, in the final image. 

Once I get home from a shoot, every session is imported into Adobe Lightroom, cataloged and backed up on an external hard drive. I take the time to carefully go through every single image, sorting out duplicates, blinks, and any images that are not technically correct to ensure that your final images are the very best of your session.

I shoot in RAW format. Most cameras will be automatically set to capture JPG/JPEG. The camera has essentially edited these images already and rejected all the excess information that was used to make it. RAW files retain all the details captured by the camera and allow the greatest creative freedom for post-processing (though they don't always look very appealing straight out of the camera!). These files are very large, need special programs to open them and require editing and exporting.

This is an example where shooting in RAW really made a difference. I had quickly moved positions without changing my manual camera settings accordingly, and the resulting image was underexposed (too dark). I was able to bring back light, details and clarity that would have degraded a JPG/JPEG file.

This is an example where shooting in RAW really made a difference. I had quickly moved positions without changing my manual camera settings accordingly, and the resulting image was underexposed (too dark). I was able to bring back light, details and clarity that would have degraded a JPG/JPEG file.

Images are color-corrected, white balance is adjusted, contrast, vibrance and sharpening are applied along with retouching (whiten teeth if needed, clean-up minor blemishes and zits, heal small injuries and scratches) and any additional editing that may be required. Every final picture is opened in both Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop for an average editing time of 5-10 minutes per image.  

Group pictures sometimes require the additional work of head-swapping. This often happens - everyone in an image is looking straight at the camera and smiling beautifully, except for one person (who was smiling three frames back when two people were blinking!). Say I have ten similar frames - I would carefully analyze each face to determine who looks their best in which frame. If needed I would combine these images. This is not always straightforward - in some cases it is incredibly difficult and time-consuming. 

 
Family portraits with little ones often need some head-swapping. Not only that, but this family was also battling some crazy mosquitos at this point in their session! :) These kids did awesome considering! In this example I started with Image 1 because I really liked the way the parents were positioned and smiling, but I knew some of the other frames had better expressions on the children's faces. You will notice their kitty had photo-bombed this image as well! I used two of the children from Image 2, and the face of the little guy from Image 3. Using the background from a clean image, I photoshopped the orange cat out along with some mosquitos that were visible against the dark colors. I had taken other shots of this pose, but I thought these 3 combined best represented this family. 

Family portraits with little ones often need some head-swapping. Not only that, but this family was also battling some crazy mosquitos at this point in their session! :) These kids did awesome considering! In this example I started with Image 1 because I really liked the way the parents were positioned and smiling, but I knew some of the other frames had better expressions on the children's faces. You will notice their kitty had photo-bombed this image as well! I used two of the children from Image 2, and the face of the little guy from Image 3. Using the background from a clean image, I photoshopped the orange cat out along with some mosquitos that were visible against the dark colors. I had taken other shots of this pose, but I thought these 3 combined best represented this family. 

 

A few more tweaks with exposure, color and sharpening, and here is the final image - cat-free with everybody looking happy at the same time!

It is important to me that newborns are safe. Some of my newborn images are also composites made up of two or more images so that baby is being protected at all times. 

 
For this particular pose, not only was baby given the proper support underneath with blankets and bean bags in the pail (the heat in the room was also turned up to keep baby warm and sleepy), but mom was touching him at all times and supporting his head. The two images were combined in Photoshop (along with a third image of an empty set-up to fill in the left side where mom was sitting). 

For this particular pose, not only was baby given the proper support underneath with blankets and bean bags in the pail (the heat in the room was also turned up to keep baby warm and sleepy), but mom was touching him at all times and supporting his head. The two images were combined in Photoshop (along with a third image of an empty set-up to fill in the left side where mom was sitting). 

 

The final image of this little sweetie without his mom in the frame. 

Award-winning photographer Ted Grant once said that, "“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls.” Black and white images are stripped of many distracting elements that otherwise sidetrack the viewer from really noticing the individual/s in the picture. In most of my galleries I will add a select few images edited in black and white. Many images look better in color, and others are more intense in black and white. These are able to captivate their audience, convey deeper emotions and tell stories more profoundly than their color counterparts. 

I was privileged to spend an evening photographing some dear friends from Norway this last summer. They had adopted their precious son from Sri Lanka, and I wanted to somehow express these beautiful relationships. I like both of these images, but to me the cropped black and white removes all the distractions except the little boy clutching his daddy's hand. With the focus just on him, I also notice the strength of his father more readily than in the color image. I find myself drawn in and asking more questions as I stare at the monochrome image - who are they? Where are they going? What is the boy looking at? I notice how relaxed he looks trusting in his daddy to guide him even though he is curious about what is behind him. Though I think the color makes a nice image, I feel a story stirring beneath the second one that makes it richer to me. 

I was privileged to spend an evening photographing some dear friends from Norway this last summer. They had adopted their precious son from Sri Lanka, and I wanted to somehow express these beautiful relationships. I like both of these images, but to me the cropped black and white removes all the distractions except the little boy clutching his daddy's hand. With the focus just on him, I also notice the strength of his father more readily than in the color image. I find myself drawn in and asking more questions as I stare at the monochrome image - who are they? Where are they going? What is the boy looking at? I notice how relaxed he looks trusting in his daddy to guide him even though he is curious about what is behind him. Though I think the color makes a nice image, I feel a story stirring beneath the second one that makes it richer to me. 

I love both the shooting and editing aspects of photography. Shooting allows me the privilege of developing relationships with clients, creatively setting up portraits, experimenting with different light, angles and camera settings. Editing, though time-consuming, provides an entirely different creative freedom to make an image really pop and stand out. It can help to convey a certain emotion or feeling and adds to the story element of images. 

signature