There are many different ways to edit a photo!
What is an Edited Photo?
Upon customer enquiries, I often get asked “do you edit the photos?” – but what does an edited photo really mean? There are so many degrees to what an ‘edit’ is so I thought I’d write this Blog to explain a bit further and also give you my interpretation of an ‘edited photo’, including some before and afters.
The answer to that question ‘do you edit the photos?’ is a big YES. Any photograph that is purchased I will take the time to fully edit, giving the best result possible and also putting my own little artistic touch on it.
But technically, any photograph that has just been downloaded from the card in the camera could be classified as edited. Here is my explanation of different levels of editing:
Upon downloading a card full of images, whichever computer software the photographer is using to do this they can create a PRESET to apply to all their images. This is a bunch of basic adjustments (such as white balance, exposure, etc) that is saved as one setting and can be applied to all images with the click of a button. Photographers can work hard on creating these presets… to create a look that they love and they feel sets them apart from other photographers. The best thing about presets is that upon downloading a card full of images, every image will have these settings applied to them which saves so much time!
I personally have 2 main presets that I have created that I apply to my photographs upon import. One is for my studio work and one for my outdoor sunset work.
BEFORE (Left): This photograph of twin girls with their dogs was taken at sunset. This is an example of my 'Import Preset' having been applied.
AFTER: (Right): Further editing in Photoshop and using multiple techniques makes the girls and their dogs the centre-of-focus. I've also given the photo a more golden-sunset look and corrected skin tones.
Some photographers choose to just apply an import preset to their work and leave it at that. This is quite common for ‘shoot and burn’ photographers – those who take a large amount of photos then simply just burn the files to a disc for the customer to print themselves.
Other photographers choose to go on and do further editing. ‘Spot Editing’ is something I definitely do and involves magnifying the photograph and fixing any imperfections on people’s skin. This can be removing acne, scratches, bruises, dry skin (particularly on babies), or even scars if a customer requests so.
I like to keep my level of editing natural – have you ever seen a photo of yourself or someone you know and think ‘that doesn’t even look like me/them’?! I don’t like to remove any natural marks such as moles, freckles, or even birth marks unless the customer specifically asks me to do so. I will reduce dark circles under eyes (which is very common for sleep deprived parents!) but again keep it to a natural level so customers don’t look like porcelain dolls! I will also soften skin if need be.
BEFORE (Left): Poor baby Eli had broken out in baby acne at just 3 weeks old. His parents were stressed their photos would come out horrible, but I re-assured them I could edit it out!
AFTER: (Right): Eli's skin has been edited clear of his acne, skin tones corrected, and contrast in the photo also adjusted. His skin looks soft and peachy just like it was before the acne appeared!
Have you ever looked around at your family or friends and realised how different your skin tones are to each other?! If not, do this the next time you are around a large group of people and you will probably be surprised at just how different everyone’s skin is! Quite commonly men carry more heat in their body so their faces have more redness. With young children, a lot of them can be quite pale because their beautiful skin hasn’t seen much sun damage yet. Newborns are tricky for their own reasons! Those suffering a bit of jaundice can be yellow in some areas (usually their face and eyes). I’ve had newborns that have literally had 3 skin colours throughout their body!
Correcting skin tones is probably the most time consuming part of editing a photograph but can make a huge difference to a portrait looking good or bad.
BEFORE (Left): Little Jonah was suffering from a bit of jaundice and when lying next to his older sister you can really see the difference in skin tones!
AFTER (Right): Skin tones corrected and Jonah looks a lot more 'normal' next to his sister.
BACKGROUND / REMOVING DISTRACTING ITEMS
Particularly with outdoor portraits, a photographer can’t always control what is going on in the background. This could be as simple as a person walking by that needs to be edited out later.
I also often find that when editing a photograph, there may be little items in the background that distract my eye from the people in the portrait. It may be something as simple as a tree branch or a bright spot on some leaves.
I also have a few techniques that I use to make the people in the portrait more centre-of-focus and fade out the background.
BEFORE (Left): Taken at sunset, the contrast in the sky is very high and the tree leaves are quite prominent in the photo. There is also the dog's lead draping beside it's body.
AFTER (Right): I have extended the tree leaves into the sky so my eye is not distracted by this bright spot in the photo. I've also softened the background leaves to bring the focus more on the kids and their beloved dog. I've also used cloning techniques to take out the dog's lead. Magic!
HOW FAR EDITING CAN GO
There really is an endless amount of editing that can be done to a photograph, especially with the amazing options that software such as Adobe Photoshop offer. Some photographers specialise in creating amazing images that are composited from multiple photographs and take a lot of time and skill. But they also create these images with the intent that is doesn’t look ‘real’ as such.
Or for those people who want to look ultra glamorous, there are many photographers that offer the full package (make-up, hair, outfits) and offer Glamour Photography. These photographs usually rely heavily on editing to make skin look absolutely perfect.
When it comes to baby and family photography, I choose to keep my editing to as simple and natural as possible. My theory is that you want to remember your children and family members as they look in real life! Especially when your baby already has amazing crystal-clear eyes and super-soft skin… why would you want to change that?!
BEFORE (Left): I wish I had a bigger studio! Unfortunately I have to work with what I've got, which is perfect for most of my work. However, full-length maternity portraits do need some Photoshop magic!
AFTER (Right): Simple cloning techniques in Photoshop allow me to extend the space in my studio and give this gorgeous Mum-to-be the perfect portrait!
Michelle is the owner and photographer behind Kiddy Kats Photography and is an accredited professional photographer with the AIPP. Based in Melbourne's Eastern suburbs in Ferntree Gully, please feel free to contact Michelle for any photo shoot enquiries: 0401 514 969 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.