THE ART OF EDITING PORTRAITS
Ever wondered what happens to your images after our photoshoot, during my image editing process? Why does it take 10 days to turn around your portraits and really what is there to do once the camera has clicked?
After your session, I carefully choose the best images and then edit them to make sure that any temporary blemishes are gone, as well as making sure the colours all look natural, images are light and bright enough (not just to view on screen, but also in print because there is a big difference there) and a whole host of other techy things such as sharpening, luminance and colour noise reduction, chromatic aberration removal, lens profile correction, curves adjustments, frequency separation... blah blah blah!
In particular, I am quite meticulous about my skin editing. Most newborns come to me with flakey skin or newborn milk spot and I take a lot of care and effort in removing these temporary blemishes so you’re left with the pure, natural looking skin your baby is left with when the blemishes have naturally cleared up a few days later.
If you’ve had a newborn session with me, you’ll know that I love these timeless black and white portraits of your new baby in your hands. When creating these, it is hard to imagine how the shot taken in camera gets cleaned up for the final image. There’s a detailed process of “masking” involved to make sure that when I turn the background into a pure black, I don’t loose any of the fine details of your baby’s wispy hair or soft skin. My black and white conversions are also not just a click of a button or a filter that’s added on top - because each black and white conversion is specific to the shot. I add contrast by hand, to areas that need it, and tone down bright highlights off any areas that distract from your baby’s face. By doing this manually, I can be sure that when your image is printed, it retains the highlight and shadow details needed for a stunning print that looks great on the wall (not just on a phone screen!)
In the studio, you might notice that the paper backdrops used get scuffed and marked during sessions. One way to reduce these marks is by lighting the backdrop to make them less visible, but this is often done at the expense of correctly lighting your facial features and eyes. If you’ve ever been in a session with me, you’ll know that at the beginning I take a few minutes to adjust the lighting to ensure that YOU are lit with a flattering light, rather than the backdrop. I then correct for the backdrop in Photoshop afterwards, like in this example.
One of the biggest challenges when shooting outdoors is the colour cast we can get on skin, reflected from the grass below us, or because of the shade. This can be quite challenging at times, but a big part of the editing process outdoors is skin colour correction, to make sure your skin always looks warm and natural.
I’m also always thinking about where the sun is, where the shade is and what location will make for the perfect setting - but the grass is not always perfect, the tree-line might be distracting, or there might be something messy in the background. Because of this, as well as the colour correction and skin editing mentioned, I also clean up the background to make sure it is not distracting the viewer from your faces in the portrait.
And finally, you’ll often hear me talk about head-swaps. Even for a professional photographer, and as a mum very well used to entertaining and engaging my own child; it can still be difficult to get kids to all look at the camera and smile at the same time. And this is when Adobe Photoshop really comes into its own, because I can often use it to take a part of one image, add it to another and create a “composite” photo that has the best of everyone’s expressions and positions in one portrait.
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading about what happens after your photoshoot with me. If you’d like to know more about what I do, feel free to ask in the comments below.
P. S. This blog post would not be complete without massive thanks to the tens of photography and Adobe Photoshop trainers who have taught me countless Photoshop and Lightroom skills over the years. I can’t name everyone (sorry) as the list would just be far too long, but I’d like to name a few of the most influential I’ve had training from (in person or online, in no particular order): Ben Willmore (internationally acclaimed Photoshop and Lightroom trainer and author), Panikos Hajistilly (UK Master Photographer of the Year 2017/18), Claire Elliott (Qualified Master Craftsman and Panel member of the Guild of Photographers), Gary Hill (FSWPP, SWPP Child Photographer of the Year 2018) , Maggie Robinson (WPPI Silver award winner and UK Newborn Photography Show New Born Photographer of the Year 2018), Lindsay Adler (top 10 worldwide fashion photographer, author, multiple award winner, trainer), Aoife Milliea, Sarah Ferrara (SWPP Fashion and Open Avant Garde Photographer of the Year 2019), Ramon Sammut (multiple award winner and world-renowned photography trainer).