Before and After – Part 4

I haven’t shown Before and After images in over a year, so I thought this past engagement shoot would lend some great examples because the lighting wasn’t ideal.  The sunlight was extremely bright, which meant my couple was either in the harsh sun or the dark shadows.

Plus, moving in and out of the shadows changed the white balance, and I shoot too fast to catch some of the slight shifts during the shoot.  So it was up to me to oomph the images in a way that set the mood as it was on that day:  warm, beautiful and romantic.

(Note:  If you are new to my blog, I call my editing process:  oomph-ing!)


When I was going through my images after the shoot, I knew this one was a keeper because the composition highlighted their body language, which showed a kind of sweet tenderness, but the color was a little cool for my taste.



Once oomphed, the image looks romantic, sweet, and a little sexy!



I love the slanted tree on the side and the branches hanging down from the top of the frame.  However, my subjects were in the shade and the background was fully lit.

In camera, you can compensate by letting in more light, but then you risk washing out the beautiful hills in the background or having a blurry photo from having a slower shutter speed!  Also, since my style is editorial, my subjects were in motion, so I had to act fast or else I’d miss this beautiful moment.



Ahhhh… now it looks like Summer love in the vineyard!

I not only evened out the light, but I also gave it a warm, vintage coloring.


Before & After

I actually took quite a few frames to get this because my subjects had to be in the perfect angle to catch enough light on their faces and body.  This is the challenge when it is a sunny day and your shooting style is editorial.  (I don’t like posing my subjects too much because then the expressions look artificial.  I like capturing emotions and a story.)

To make this image the best it can be, I cropped out some of the clutter, like the car on the left and some rocks and hose on the right.  Cropping also meant my subjects would be a little larger & closer, which I thought would look better for this photo.

When I took the shot, I had wanted it composed with the subjects small & in the center, but seeing the image on my computer sometimes changes my game plan!

The oomphing changed an image that probably wouldn’t have made it into the final cut (as is) to an image that would look amazing on a large canvas wrap!



When I first met my subjects, I thought, “They look like models!” and then I did a jump-kick and the splits… in my head, of course. 🙂

As most of you know, there is a lot of airbrushing and Photoshopping in magazines and photos of models.  So I extended the same courtesy to my subjects who already looked fabulous, but just needed a little oomph.



Ooh la la!  Now they look like models in a fashion spread.  Their digital facial, if you will, still lets them look like themselves.  You still see a few freckles and wrinkles, which, in my opinion, are what makes us each unique, like a fingerprint.

Photoshopping someone’s skin is probably one of the most controversial editing topics for photographers.  A couple years ago, I would’ve never done this because I believed everyone looked better unedited!  Now I see the editing work like patting on a little more makeup, but digitally.  I feel strongly, however, about leaving permanent marks, like moles and birth marks, alone.  Again, that’s just part of your “fingerprint” or uniqueness.


Final Notes

Some photographers don’t like to reveal how much was done in post-production, but I think it’s incredibly interesting to see the before and after photos — not just for photography enthusiasts, but also for clients.  Personally, I’m happy to share with my clients how much effort and artistry I put into creating each image in my gallery!

In case you’re wondering, there are also images that look fantastic right out of the camera:  the color, white balance, saturation, hue, contrast, composition.  Starting in 2010, I oomph almost all images in client galleries.  That’s just how I roll.

I remember that not long ago, I’d pride myself on how I only did “light editing”, such as cropping or contrast adjustment.  But now I think differently.

When I think back to my film development and enlargement class at UC Berkeley, I remember one of my biggest A-Ha! moments was realizing that taking the shot is only half of the creative process.  Half!  The other half is what happened in the dark room! The same applies now with digital photography.  The digital dark room — a photo editing software, such as Photoshop — plays a very key role in how the final image will look.

You can take 10 photographers to process the same image and come out with 10 very different images, just as you would if you asked 10 photographers to take a photo of the same subjects.

[Click here to see last year’s Before and After – Part 3 post.]


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