Before and After: Part 5

It’s time for another Before and After post!  I got this idea from one of my new Facebook friends (hi Shana!) who said he wasn’t chummy with color correction in the editing process.  (By the way, if you haven’t connected with me on my FB business page yet, please visit and click on “Like”!  FB is a fab way to communicate, share ideas, ask questions, etc.)

His comment got me thinking…

For all photographers, not only ones who just started out, there are times you need to edit an image because you are correcting something — such as, tweaking the white balance, cropping something out, adjusting the contrast or highlight, or dodging and burning areas of an image.

Then there are times the image looks perfectly fine all by itself, without any editing at all.  So why fix something that isn’t broken, right?  Perhaps the image is technically fine, but does it convey a feeling, or a mood, that you want?  These are things I ask myself when I am editing a client gallery.

In my opinion, taking the shot is half the art.  The other half is how I oomph it afterwards!

Here are a few examples from recent images…


Creating a Scene

I was attracted to this area because of the storm clouds and twiggy vines.  Though my subject is smiling, I envisioned this shot (when I took it) to have cold, steel-like colors.  I wanted it look eerie, like a set of a horror film!


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Highlighting Features

There is nothing wrong with the original, straight-out-of-the-camera image.  But here’s where mood is important to lavish on a photo!

This little girl’s gorgeous red curls, flawless skin, and bluish-gray eyes were lackluster in the original image.  So, WAPOW!!  After some oomphing, she looks exactly like how I see her.


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Set the Mood

Below is a great example of an image that could have been left alone and would have been great.  (Well, “great” if you like shots of bottles – ha ha.  I took this when I was walking around town with my little girl.)

I took this shot because of the colors of the labels and light glowing in the fridge and bouncing off the glass bottles.  My oomphing makes the image richer and makes me find those bottles more tantalizing!  Gimme gimme…


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Subtlety is Sweet

Post processing does not have to mean major changes or over-processing.  The image below is another example of a perfectly fine photo straight-out-of-the-camera.

The oomphed photo only has subtle differences.  Do you think it makes a difference?

This is a good question to ask yourself when you are editing your images.  If you don’t see much difference or see a purpose in the processing, then you shouldn’t do it.


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Heavier Processing

Sometimes I want a bit more processing.  In this image below, it was late in the day and we were in the shade, so the colors were a little dull, but technically okay.

I processed the shot to have a moodier tone, which complements Mia’s expression.


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To see some prior Before and After posts, click here:

Before and After Part 4 (August 2010)

Before and After Part 3 (June 2009)

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5 Comments

  1. Annie,
    Thank you so much for your before-and-after post. As an amateur photographer, it is so very helpful to see your edits. Developing an eye for what actually improves the shot, for what supports the mood, is not an easy task. Generally we only see the final result and don’t get to share in the artistic and creative thought process. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Brenda, I am so glad you got something out of it! :)

    A lot of photographers don’t like sharing the Before and After because they want to create the illusion that their images are gorgeous from the beginning. I can understand that for sure! But I truly enjoy sharing the entire process because so much goes into creating an image and making it beautiful.

  3. I love this post. I rarely play around in photoshop since I don’t have the time or the skill, but completely agree that post processing is half the art and so fun.

  4. Yay! I love hearing that you enjoyed this post.

    Lili, I definitely sing a different tune about post processing now than I did 3 years ago. If you look at your first photoshoot with me, the images were *lightly* edited (ie, cropping, contrast adjustment). Now I fully edit each image — well, maybe 95% of my client images! I think it gives the images a more polished look. But it does take a long time, especially since my client galleries are so large.

  5. Annie,

    Thank you for such a wonderful post! I love to see a professional photographers thoughts and processing on their photos. I looked back through the others “Before & Afters” and I love how you changed the view for the actual before and after pictures. Thank you again.