When your family photographer talks about ‘editing’ your photographs, what does this actually mean? The reality is perhaps quite different from your expectation. Using Photoshop to ‘alter’ an image, conjures thoughts of ‘airbrushing’ for most of us. Unrealistically beautiful images of people with no wrinkles, no pores in their skin, no shadows under their eyes, and perfect bodies! But the reality for a family photographer like me is actually quite different.
I edit every single photo I present to my clients by hand. Some photos require 2 minutes work, whilst others require up to an hour! And this is dependant on what I want the image to look like at the end. A family portrait for a client is very different from a photograph I take to enter a competition for example.
Take this photo for example…
It took around an hour to get this photo from its original to the final version. I did a lot of work in photoshop on the background. Then I changed the colour of her coat and gloves to match the hat. If you look carefully, you’ll see I also accentuated her hair blowing in the wind and added some depth using shadows, light and toning. The resulting effect is obviously a more ‘fine art’ portrait. You can tell has it has been altered more than a regular family portrait photo. Photographers use these kinds of images for entering competitions and showing their skills.
Now take a look at this one.
Editing Family portraits
This photographs is typical of the work I do as a family photographer. As you can see, the edit is far more natural. I’ve straightened the image and cropped it in a bit closer. Then I’ve removed the green colour cast. This is an unavoidable green light reflection seen on people when photographing them under green trees or in woodland. Next I’ve added depth, using toning and shadows. The result is a beautiful portrait!
My aim will always be getting as much right ‘in camera’ when I take the initial photograph. But there are always things that need correcting to make a perfect finished photograph. Here’s another example of a photograph where the green colour cast needed removing. I also boosted the colour to accentuate the bluebells against the green woodland. Lastly, I lightened some of the shadow which darkens her face.
Converting to black and white
Black and white photographs are another example of why your family photographer will hand edit your photographs. Simply ‘desaturating’ a colour photo to make it black and white will leave it looking ‘flat’. Take a look at these examples…
When converting a photograph to black and white, your photographer will alter the shadows and highlights (dark and light areas) in the photograph. They will also change the depth and clarity of the image to make the black and white version ‘pop’ out at the viewer.
In the following two photographs, I wanted to add a feeling of ‘warmth’ to the images. Both took a long time to edit and needed lots of work on the backgrounds to achieve the final look.
In this one, the buttercup field was very flat. I couldn’t get a good photograph at the angle I wanted without the distracting line of trees in the background. So in photoshop, I added more buttercups to really focus the viewer on my subject.
In this one, I wanted to accentuate the light from the sunset that fell onto the grass in the foreground, lighting it beautifully. After adding a boost of warm colour and brightening the subject, the final photo feels like the warm summer evening sunset.
This was a simple edit. Firstly, a closer crop to really focus the viewer on the little boy and his dog. Next, a boost of the highlights created from the sunset on the grass in the foreground.
Another simple edit for this one. I just needed to accentuate the colours in the sky from the beautiful sunset and the purple of the flowers in the field.
Here, I really wanted to draw the viewer into the photograph. The family are already clearly the focus of the shot. But by darkening the background they ‘pop’ out even more and really become the centre of your attention.
Louisa Williams is a family and children’s photographer based near Cambridge and working throughout Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and the surrounding areas. You can see more of her current work and enquire about commissions here and can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.
Booking your family photography session
If you’d like some beautiful family portraits, you can find more details about my family sessions here. If you’re ready to book and would like to secure your session date, please drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in this form.