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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

post-processing: now you see it, now you don't

Ah, custom photography. You love the final product but wonder why the price seems so much higher than if you just took a few shots yourself and developed them at the local Wal-Mart. I once wondered that myself until I got into the actual business of photography. After advertising and marketing, booking clients, scheduling photo shoots (and rescheduling due to weather), travelling to the location, and actually taking the photos, my job is only half done. Yep. Still lots of work to do.

Here's an example of what comes next, during the post-processing phase. You might remember this photo I took of Chloe during our evening walk. The one on the left is straight out of camera with nary a tweak — I actually feel kind of naked showing it! The one on the right is after post-processing.
I use a combination of Lightroom and Photoshop to edit my photos. Sometimes it's just a matter of removing some eye gunk or doing some light retouching. Sometimes it can be quite meticulous and time consuming to get the exact look that I'm after. I'm pretty nit-picky, so I generally spend quite a bit of time on each photo.

The original photo of Chloe had several things going for it. I liked the composition with the tall grass on the left and the path down low fading off to the right. I liked that she's making eye contact with me and isn't sporting a goofy expression (this is pretty rare for Chloe!). And the direction of that warm evening light was quite lovely — you can see it softly hitting her left side. The photo just needed some "zing," so I brightened it up, added some warmth and contrast, and removed the leash, which she had so thoughtfully dragged through a mud puddle only moments before. I left her slimy tennis ball in the final image because it speaks to her personality — she doesn't go anywhere without it. Can you spot it?

Hopefully that explains some of the reasoning behind the price of custom photography and the work that goes into it behind the scenes. It really is an investment. But a worthwhile one I think. What are your thoughts?

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