I always try to explain to my clients during the consultation and again at their session on what the next process is after their session. I tell them I will load and back-up their images, edit them and then present them in a slideshow and shopping cart for them to enjoy and share. I’ve had clients ask “what do you mean by edit?”. I don’t know that I’ve ever really gone into detail about what happens immediately following a session and the time it takes to “edit” images. Thanks to Laura over at Pretty Presets for sharing these before and after templates this week I decided now would be a great time to walk through the process with all of you. It starts right after our session. I take the the card(s) of digital images to my computer, creating a new folder with your name for easily finding you on my system, it would really stink to lose a client after all 🙂 and transfer all images to the folder. I then burn a disk with all of the images as a back-up. If time allows I’ll grab a few images to quickly edit and post some sneak peeks (assuming the model release has been signed, many clients prefer their children/families not appear on the blog or Facebook pages). Then the process begins with me choosing the best images. I am sure if you’ve had portraits taken by me you know I take a lot, sometimes to make sure I have everyone looking (if it’s that kind of session), sometimes to capture the image in both close-up and full length and other times because I’m trying to capture a series of images. When you take 200+ images you know some aren’t going to be great, some are repeats and some just aren’t quite right, this makes it easy to narrow down. I try to find the best 30ish images, sometimes it’s more, rarely is it less (mini sessions are the exception). Then the fun begins. I crop the images in an eye pleasing way, then spend several minutes on each image tweaking things just so. Many times the images don’t need much, just a little boost here and a little boost there. Other times I have a vision on how I want the image to look but need to “play” with it a bit to get it just right. And to many times I find myself lost in making it the “best” image possible. When the session has been edited, I resize all of the images for uploading to the web, prepare the slideshow and shopping cart and email all of the information out for you to view and order your portraits. The process from start to finish is anywhere from 2 to 4 hours depending on how many images (senior sessions have taken longer yet!) I’ve taken, how many changes of location and clothing were involved and whether or not I was an airhead and forgot to change my camera settings when changing lighting conditions (umm, yea, not the smartest to admit that, but it has happened). Don’t judge, I get wrapped up in what I see unfolding and don’t always remember the fundamentals, at least not for a few minutes when my brain snaps back in place and remembers those dials and buttons on my camera are there for a reason.
I quickly pulled an image from a session last fall to demonstrate the edit process. The before image is good, it’s properly exposed, the lighting is good (there should never be harsh shadows or black eyes in a portrait, if you have ever paid for portraits with goofy shadows or have black holes where your eyeballs should be do yourself a favor and find a new photographer), technically there isn’t anything wrong with the before image, but it just didn’t have that “pop”. Now I didn’t do a complete and full edit on the after, but I did remove the drool on little man’s chin and brighten him up just enough to make him come alive. With a slight reduction in the red tone he’s good to go. Now if this was an image that is ordered I would go in and fine tune the edits, making sure all the drool was cleaned up (drool can be cute, but in this instance it was just a wet chin) that the white of his hat remained white without losing the texture of the hat and maybe defining the texture of the basket just a smidge more.
Why am I telling you all this… it’s a rainy Sunday. I am working on editing a session, remembered these great templates I downloaded last week and decided to take a break from editing my session and share the process with all of you… don’t you feel lucky now? 🙂 Come on now, I know you’ve always wanted to know what goes on behind the scenes.