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FAQ: Post Processing…How are the files you recieve edited?

I have been meaning to write this FAQ post for awhile. A LONG while! It is intended for my clients and potential clients that want clarification on exactly how processed the final images they receive on disc will be. But if you are a fellow photographer, I am hoping this will help you out as well!! I know I had a lot of these questions when I was first starting out! So here goes, a few FAQ on post processing!

What is your editing style?

My editing style is vibrant but still classic and true to life. I like my photos to be timeless, and therefore I try to stay away from trends. Ever noticed how mom’s wedding album from the 1980’s looks so…dated? Sorry, mom, but it does! I NEVER want my clients to look back on their images and cringe and say “Ugh, what were we thinking?!” So I personally am not a fan of textures, antiqued images, or selective coloring (when most of the image is black and white and a part of it is left in color) or any other hot trends. If you like all those effects I just listed, that is totally fine! It just means I am probably not the photographer for you!

All in all, I really believe that if I edit my images to look just like a slightly enhanced version of how the photo looked when I shot it, if I edit my images to stay true to life, the photos will feel more real and genuine. They will last the test of time. And they will ultimately best document exactly how things were on your wedding day. And that is super important to me!

How many images from my wedding will I receive?

A typical 8 hour wedding will yield somewhere between 800-1000 images. Think of it this way, I shoot about 100 images per hour!

Will the final images I receive be edited?

All of the 800-1000 images you receive from your wedding day will be color corrected, which is a form of editing. You will NEVER receive anything straight out of the camera. Rest assured that all your images are given attention, care and have been enhanced in some way. Now here is where things get a little confusing…The images you will see on the blog, in your slideshow, and also the images that will go into your album will all be fully edited by me!

Most brides get a little confused on what the exact difference is between a “color corrected” image and a “fully edited” image. I’m hoping to clear up that confusion. Here is an example of the same image going through the three editing stages. The first image is straight out of the camera (abbreviated “sooc”). This image has NOT been altered at all. It is exactly how I shot it. As you can see, it is exposed properly and the colors are more or less pretty good. There isn’t a TON that needs to be done to this image. Mainly what I see here is that I want to warm this up a bit, add a tad of saturation/contrast to make it pop a little bit more, and also brighten this image a bit (specifically the skin of the bride and bridesmaids). I almost ALWAYS feel that I need to slightly brighten skin tones when I see a sooc image.

Below is the “color corrected” image. For you photogs or photography enthusiasts out there, the color correcting is done in Lightroom. I actually do not color correct the images myself. I send them to Kenny at Fotofafa because he seriously makes my images fab and makes my life and my clients so much happier (more on that below).  Anywho, ALL the images my brides receive from their wedding will be COLOR CORRECTED. And this is where most brides get confused…what is color correcting and how is it different than a full edit? The color correcting isn’t quite as fine tuned as a full edit, but as you can see it is pretty close. The colors are much warmer, a bit more vibrant, and the image is much brighter. I think we can agree this image is an improved version of the sooc image! It is simply prettier! And I want to make sure that ALL the 800-1000 images that my brides get from their wedding are pretty images!

Lastly, we have the fully edited version. All the images I blog and put in your online slideshow are fully edited. You will receive these bonus edited images (which usually ends up being between 40-75 images) in addition to all the color corrected ones. Additionally, ALL images that go into your album will be fully edited. Any prints or other products you receive in your collection, or that you choose to buy, will all have been fully edited by me.

So how is the fully edited image below different from the color corrected image? Well as you can see this one is a little more fine tuned. Instead of brightening the whole image, I was able to JUST brighten the skin of the bride and bridesmaids. I also slightly upped the saturation/contrast of this image and slightly warmed it. I did not choose to warm it up quite as much as the color corrected image. I like this version best because it is the most natural looking to me, while still being bright and having vibrant colors!

Here is one more example of one image going through all three stages:

As you can see in the example above, the sooc image seems a little dark because they were back-lit. Also the colors are a little cold and blue-ish. The color-corrected image is much warmer and brightened just a bit. It is definitely an improved version of the sooc image! Lastly, the fully edited image is a bit more fine tuned. I not only brightened the entire image, but I also went in and brightened the bride and groom’s skin which gives them a little more pop! I warmed the image but very subtly and also added a subtle amount of contrast and saturation. I love that my final edit is classic– the colors are true to life, but still very vibrant. Which is a defining aspect of my style. I also love how the bride and groom pop a bit more than the original sooc image!

Brides also often ask me if I retouch skin or edit out pimples and such. To be honest, I don’t usually need to do this much. I shoot in such a way (with the lens wide open) that seems to make every one’s skin look creamy and smooth. I also always try to overexpose the skin just a TAD, which is another little trick that makes skin look smooth. Our eyes read brightness as smoothness, so if the skin is just a tad bright our eyes read it as smooth and delicious!  However, if someone does have a blemish they are unhappy with I will go ahead and take it out when I fully edit an image (for the blog, slideshow, album, canvas, or professional print). Color corrected images, however, do not get treatment like blemish removal.

My final note on this whole retouching thing, I really try to keep your images looking natural. That means having YOU look like YOU. Sometimes I get requests like “can you edit me so I look 15 pounds thinner?” or “Can you make my nose smaller” etc. The thing is, and I am gonna keep it real here, I am a PHOTOGRAPHER, I ain’t a magazine retoucher so, no I really can’t do that. I just don’t have that skill. But even if I had that skill, I’d still have to say no. Because I want you to look like you in your pics. I want you to feel confident in who you are. I want you to see that the beautiful girl in your photos and know it isn’t retouched, it really is YOU. Exactly how you are! Because seriously? All my brides are gorgeous inside and out!

What about engagement, mr. + mrs. and boudoir sessions? Are those images color corrected or edited or both?

For an engagement, mr. and mrs., or boudoir session you will receive 50 images. All these images have been fully edited by me! You will not receive any images that have only been color corrected from one of these shoots. For boudoir sessions I spend the most time hand editing the photos to make sure everything is looking its best, which is also why boudoir sessions cost more than regular portrait sessions! But again, no magazine retouching here!

Why do you outsource your color correcting for wedding images? How does it benefit me as a client?

I outsource my images for a few reasons. For one, it is a MAJOR time saver. Color correcting around 1000 images takes some serious time on my part. And in the thick of busy wedding season, I can get really backed up with edits. Before I started outsourcing it would take me wayyy to long to get my clients their images. And really, that’s not how I roll. I don’t like taking a long time to show my clients their pictures. I mean, I remember what it was like to be a bride! Waiting to relive your day is AGONIZING. So anything that helps me turnaround images faster to clients is my friend!

The other reason I outsource is because honestly? I am not a specialist in color correcting. I did not get into photography to become a color corrector…I got into photography to take fabulous images. And to work with happy, fun, vibrant people. So while I can do a basic and decent job at color correcting, it’s neither my strong suit or my passion. But the cool thing is that it just so happens to be someone else’s strong suit and passion. And that means they do a way better job than me. By outsourcing to someone who is more skilled in– and more passionate about– color correcting, I am able to deliver my client THE BEST product possible! Which is what I aim for in every aspect of my business.

…I hope this post was informative and may have answered some of your questions regarding how I process my images, and for my clients I hope you have a better understanding of how your final images will look when you receive them! If anyone has any more questions on this topic, or even any other FAQ they’d like to see answered here on the blog, please let me know below in the comments section! I am happy to help!

  • Christina - Ash, this is really good information and I am glad you posted it. Thanks!

  • Alfred - This is awesome info. Thanks for taking us through what it takes to deliver the great images that you take.

  • Nina - As an aspiring photographer (and someone who is experiencing the frustration of color correcting and editing by myself) this post was definitely a help! Thank you so much for sharing =)

    Nina

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