A note about post-processing

So I got a phone call today. I'm not sure who it was, but they were asking when John & Hannah's pictures would be available to view online. What?! I just shot that wedding on Saturday! It's only Wednesday! Give a girl a chance to breathe! Honestly, that question annoyed me more than you might think...but it's not his fault. He doesn't know what my post processing workflow is like. He's just excited to see pictures.

After I calmed down a bit, I realized that, unless you've actually sat next to me while I've been editing (which means your name is either Devon, JoEllen, or Joshy), there probably aren't many of you who do know what my post processing includes. So, I thought I'd share.

First, let me make a disclaimer: This is just the way I do things...it may not necessarily be the "right" way, or how others approach things. All I know is what works for me and my clients.

Basically, my photos have 3 phases: 1) Straight out of camera, 2) Preliminary edits, 3) Final edits. Here is an example of those stages:

Edit Example 1

While shooting, I have to get it right in camera, meaning I need to make sure that my exposure is correct for the situation. For any photographers out there, I shot this photo with my Canon 5D, with a 24mm prime lens, set manually at 200 ISO, 1.4 aperture, & 1/1600 shutter. As you can see above, this photo ispretty much properly exposed.

After shooting, I sort through the images and toss out any where the exposure was off, eyes are closed, etc. Then they get a preliminary edit, at which point I adjust white balance, contrast, & make minor exposure changes as needed. If you compare the left photo with the middle photo, the left has a pink-ish tone, and there aren't any true black tones in the jacket. These changes happen in Adobe Bridge, and usually very quickly. That program allows me to adjust several photos at once, and the better the exposure in camera, the less I have to do.

The final step is in Photoshop. In the photo on the right, I brought out more details in the textures, especially in John's hair and jacket. I also did some very slight skin touch ups, and brightened Hannah's eyes slightly, since they were in a little bit of a shadow. Again, these are done fairly quickly, thanks to Photoshop Actions. For curious photographers, I use a combo of MCP, Totally Rad, and my own actions to get this look; I pretty much use the same 3-4 actions on everything I do. The final product is a crisp, fresh looking photo.

So there you have it. Although I really only spent 30-90 seconds per photo, when I've got 300 to do, it takes some time. And when I shoot a wedding on Saturday, then a session on Monday & Tuesday, it can really add up. Not to mention all the other things that need to be done, such as filling orders, answering emails, blogging, backing up files, etc. From time to time, I consider outsourcing my editing, or only editing to the second step, but I enjoy doing it for the most part, and I love giving my client a finished product, created uniquely by me. Uniqueness, however, takes some time. So...fella-who-called-me-today...I'm working on it.


Jessica @ budgetsavvybride said...

i'm one of those people who is used for outsourcing photo editing- and it's true! it takes time! people don't get it! :)

Danielle McCann Photography said...

I'm not sure how I missed this post when you posted it, but it just made me laugh hysterically. I love those people... "Are they done yet?" Wait a minute, that was YESTERDAY! Holy wow, no they are not done yet!!!

Processing takes a ton of time, but it is so worth it. Plus, I think I'm a little too OCD (read: anal) to hand it over to anyone else. :)