Editing & Stylistic Choices | JayLee M.O.

As we have talked about in our business practices post, we are pretty particular about editing. It seems that within the photo-industry a lot of photographers say they didn’t get into this business to be editing wizards… they got into it to be photographers. We believe that a photo is not complete until after it has come through editing. That said, we also believe that the image should come out of the camera pretty darn solid. There are always things that can be improved, and we want our clients to receive the best version of of the photos they can. We include editing and styling in our prices because you are paying us for amazing images and should not have to work on them yourself or pay extra to receive the best version of an image. This post is not for photographers…we aren’t looking to get into super technical aspects of editing, but wanted to go over some basics on our process for clients.

1. Black and White or Color: Client meetings are great because they bring up more and more questions. Recently, we have had a few clients ask us this question, now: “How do you decide which pictures to turn black and white or ‘sepia’?”  While we don’t actually edit in black and white or sepia, we do edit in what we consider to be a “warm black and white” that has some brown and reddish hues to it, or a “cool black and white” that has more of a grey tone to it. There are a lot of options, and this is what defines a photographer’s brand and style. When it comes to deciding which images we turn black and white, we just know. It may have to do with the emotion in the image and how we want it to feel, or the photo may just look better black and white. Usually, in a series of images that are similar (a couple about to kiss), we will turn some from the series black and white and leave some in color.

This shot was part of a series of images, but we liked it in black and white because of the moment shared between the couple and the way the black and white really shows off her eyes.

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We liked this image in color, as it was taken at an art event and the purple lighting added a lot to the photo. The skin tone and colors add to the image.

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The framing, shadows, and light in this photo look much better black and white. The wall was colored yellow, which blended into the bride’s skin and hair. This edit also suited the emotion of the bride right before the first look. This is one of our “most loved” images by clients (and one of our favorites, too)!

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2. Our Edits: Josh and I usually cull our images together, or one of us will go through to find the “good ones” and then the other will review them. Then, we take turns editing or each will take on a separate editing project. Once we are done with the first round of editing, we look over each other’s work (it’s nice to have a second pair of eyes on things). Obviously, the goal is to get our images as close to how we want them right out of the camera. For this reason, we don’t use excessive pre-sets anymore. We want our images to remain true to the day we took them, producing lasting memories for our clients. We do, however, take editing very seriously. We know exactly how we want our photos to look. So, we put together a few examples to show you photos we would never produce (over/under contrasted, over/under exposed, etc.) and what they look like next to our edited image. Hopefully it will give you some insight into the photo-editing process and make you more aware of these elements of photography in general.

Contrast: (1) Low Contrast Example, (2) High Contrast Example, (3) Jaylee’s Final Image

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Exposure: (1) High Exposure Example, (2) Low Exposure Example, (3) JayLee’s Final Imageseattle baby photographer, exposure photographyExposure: (1) High Exposure Example, (2) Low Exposure Example, (3) JayLee’s Final Image
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Vibrance: (1) Right out of the camera, (2) JayLee’s Final image (added vibrancy, slight increase in vibrancy and exposure)

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Increased vibrancy and contrast; teeth whitened, eyes whitened, greener grass: JayLee’s Final Image
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3. Cosmetic Effects: We never want our clients to look at an image and notice something like a blemish before they notice the emotion captured in the photo. We will never show an image where a client “looks bad”, but we generally don’t take away scars or birthmarks or things that are a part of what you look like (we may minimize their appearance if they distract from the photo, or you request it). We do edit blemishes, veins, discolorations, bruises…we whiten teeth and eyes, we warm photos up to give them a glow (we tend towards “warm” instead of “cool”). Let’s face it… everyone wants to look good in pictures! We are not purists when it comes to this. We want you to look like YOU in the photo, but we are not against small edits that enhance the image and make you happier when you receive them. The lovely gal in the photos below has great skin, so edits were pretty minor. She has a small scar on her forehead that we lightly smoothed but did not remove. A few small blemishes were removed and we evened out her skin. The eyes were lightly brightened and her lips were smoothed (they were a bit chapped by the end of the shoot). The image was warmed up, and we upped the vibrancy a bit so the lips did not blend in with her skin.

Effects: (1) Right out of the camera, (2) JayLee’s Final Image 

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4. Removing  Unsightly Elements: Sometimes, things end up in a shot as we are capturing a spontaneous moment. A trash can. A pole. A candy wrapper. Again, we are not photo purists. When it comes to items that take away from a photo, we remove them! We don’t batch edit our images because we have a vision for them while we are taking them, and we want to have control in the editing process to make sure you get the best version of our work and the best images of yourself and your event. You can see in the below image that there was an unsightly pole that cast a shadow onto the ground and took away from the image, so we took it out.

(1) Right out of the camera, (2) JayLee’s Final Image (no pole shadow or crane, the cone was removed and then we decided to crop the image and turn it black and white with a very light vignette to frame and focus in on the couple).

seattle wedding photographer, photoshop wedding photographer(1) Small hair from the hat is in his eye, (2) JayLee’s Final Image (no hair). This seems minor, but when printed or viewed in a decent size, it took away from the image.

Stylistic choices are just that…choices. Our way is not the “right” way. We are constantly improving and growing and learning. We are meticulous and we push each other. We are not lazy editors. We don’t edit based on what other photographers are doing with their edits. We try to produce the best images we can and we definitely spend time on our images. We hope this post gave you a small glimpse into our process, and helped you to understand a few things that can “go wrong” in edits, and what to look for when viewing photos.  As you look through our blog and website you should get a clear idea of what our work looks like, and be able to decide if it is a style that would work for you! //Josh + Ali

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