Before & After: The Importance of Editing

Editing: What's the Big Deal?

Today's topic is editing. The magic that photographers and digital artists conjure behind locked doors in dark rooms...Well, that's how it use to be. When I first began my career in photography there were photographers and retouchers that I stalked like a 5th grader with a playground crush. What I found for a long time was that these artists didn't want to share any secrets of how they acquired their look. I spent hours, if not weeks searching the interwebs for blog posts or "leaked" BTS of what the magic ingredient was. Thankfully I feel there has been an overall shift amongst the creative community. We are all becoming open books! It's amazing!

It's incredible when you find wickedly talented people who are more than willing to share their resources and their expertise to help out fellow photogs. As in all things creative, even if I were to teach someone my EXACT workflow and editing process, everyone puts their own spin onto something. It'll never look exactly the same...unless that's your intention. 

For those who are not photographers or retouchers, editing is a big part.. if not the BIGGEST part of what creates a photographer's style. Of course style also includes how they interact with their subject, their framing, lens choice etc. but it's also about where they take that image in their post production. I continue to work on my look, but I think it will always be a work in progress as color and lighting trends come in and out. 

Retouching: How I Make My Magic

The image I've displayed above is a before and after from a stylized wedding shoot I shot last month. I underexposed for skin (to make sure it didn't blow out skin tones) and kept the focus on the female subject. My 50mm put some distortion on the facial proportions (due to my proximity to the models) which I was able to correct via LightRoom. I use VSCO presets in LR (Porta 160++ is my FAV!) and then brought it into photoshop for skin retouching. I use LightRoom for all my color toning. Their program is simple, intuitive and has become really powerful in how precise you can manipulate your images. Some artists do their VSCOs or presets after skin retouching but I prefer to do it prior. No harm, no fowl whichever way you choose. From there, I use Frequency Separation to blend skin tones (gives it the smooth look) then simple dodging and burning to enhance highlights and shadows. The frequency separation is an action I got from and the dodging/burning action is from Greater Than Gatsby Presets (Three Nails Photography Pack). Dodging and burning is literally the most old school and amazing technique for bringing images from great to STUNNING. You can google techniques and really see what it can do for you. 

Eventually if there is interest, I'd be willing to do a time lapse of my editing so you can see how I complete an image from the initial import to final export. 

What are your fav presets? Any VSCO packs you extra love? Share below, I'd love to hear!