Editing Photos: It’s a Bit of an Art

The funny thing about photography is that the easy part is taking the pictures. What many people don't realize is that there are literally hundreds of hours of work after we've had fun running around snapping those photos. Especially with wedding photography when everyone wants to look perfect and there are thousands of photographs to sift through, it can become quite the labor of love.

But there is nothing quite so exciting to me as taking a "nice enough" photo and transforming it into a piece of art. I love watching as the colours begin to shine and details come into focus. I confess I often find myself flipping back and forth between the original and the edited photo. Maybe I should admit I have little too much fun with it. 

My goal with every photo is to capture its essence, which means that although I may need to do some serious photoshopping (like swapping heads when someone was blinking), my main intent is to simply enhance what is already there.

I thought I would give you a glimpse into the "behind the scenes" of photography. Below are a couple examples of photos I have polished up over the years. Click on the images to see them full size.

Portrait Photography | Edited photos before and after

This first photo was my end of term assignment for my photography course, which was to take a portrait shot of a woman using 100% artificial lighting. With few other models readily available I became both model and photographer for this one!

I fiddled for an hour with my makeshift lighting setup (I believe I used a total of 14 different lights on this set, including some lamps from the office), and since I didn't even own a remote at the time, I simply set the timer and ran back to my chair for every. single. shot. So glad no one was watching.

There wasn't a ton of hard-core editing that went into this one—mostly just a bit of fiddling with the colours and tone, some darkening around the edges, and of course a nice crop job to get rid of the lovely LED light photobombing in the back. However, this photo is a good example of how simple adjustments can turn an "okay" photo into what my tutor dubbed a "masterpiece". 

Family Photography | Edited photos before and after

Family photography. This is the champ when it comes to face-swapping. Especially if there's little kids in the photo, it always seems like there's somebody blinking, looking away, talking, or looking totally annoyed. While colour doctoring is usually kept to a minimum, it's not uncommon for me to need to blend one, two, or more photos together so that everyone has that angelic smile, eyes open and looking at the camera.

You'll notice in this particular photo that the left third of the photo was completely replaced, changing my expression, opening my sister's eyes, and introducing the adorable Gina into the scene.

Wedding Photography | Edited photos before and after

Here's an example where a bit of both was required. If you look reeeeeally closely, you'll notice that her nose was smashed up against his awkwardly. Fixed that. And that advertisement on the left? Had to go.

This is probably one of my favourite photos for its texture and colours. I remember as I was taking the photo that I was already looking forward to editing it. I love my job!

I could show you hundreds of examples of pictures that have been tweaked and adjusted to make them ready for presentation, but hopefully this gave you a glimpse of what goes into the nice pictures you see hanging on people's walls. Though sometimes time-consuming, photo editing is definitely one of my favourite things to do!

Young Love

It's your classic Nicholas Sparks novel—a young couple separated, destined to live different lives, only to be reunited over fifty years later and discover that a love can be rekindled.

But it's not a sappy novel, this is the story of my feisty, fun-loving grandpa Clem and his beautiful new wife Lucille.

I was working across the room when he got a phone call. "Oh, it's you!" he softly exclaimed. He scurried downstairs and I couldn't eavesdrop on the long conversation. Absorbed with my work, I didn't even ask any questions when he came back up and asked me for the address of a fancy restaurant he had been to once before (technologically disinclined, he soon discovered that I—or rather my internet connection—was a much faster way of procuring information than YellowPages. He did this a lot).

But a week later when he introduced me to "an old friend of his", a girl he had dated years before he met my late grandmother, my cousins and I glanced sidelong at each other like, Is he...? No, he can't be.

But sure enough, Lucille had captured his heart again, and the tiny redhead soon captured all of ours with her adorable smile and spunky sense of humour. Just a few months later they were married—and I had the incredible honour of being their photographer. Of the many, many weddings I have been to over the years, this was by far one of the most fun!

Who says there is no such thing as young love at 79?

A Country Wedding

Christmas is fast approaching once again (sneaky devil), but I thought that amid the hectic preparations—the finishing of projects and wrapping of gifts—I would publish another blog post before I head home for the holidays!

Brenden and Meghan's big day had all the feel of a country wedding—laid back, simple and beautiful. It was the first wedding I'd ever been to where the couple had a "first look" before the actual ceremony, and Brenden was an adorable mess. I admired Meghan's "Pinterest-y" approach to decorating, and we all had fun experimenting with burning steel wool after dark to capture a Disney-like effect. The whole day was gorgeous—sunny and warm—and I once again found it very easy to capture the love of a couple who so are so evidently made for each other. Thank you for asking me to be your photographer! I hope you have many, many happy years together.

Once again, here are a few of my personal favourites from the day. Please be sure to visit the full gallery!

Brenden & Meghan

Snowing in the City

I'm ashamed to admit that it's already the end of November and I am only just publishing my first blog entry and the first of the weddings I photographed this past summer. I tell myself that it's because I've been dreadfully busy and that makes me feel better about myself. But as I look out at the icy streets and the haze of snowflakes steadily drifting down from a stone-grey sky, I find it hard to believe that winter is already here. My oh my, how time can get away on you.

I had the privilege of photographing not one but three weddings this past summer for people I dearly love. Watching them so joyfully pledge their lives to one another reminded me once again why I enjoy my job so much—love so evident and beautiful is so very easy to capture. (Editing a truckload of photos on the other hand... not so much).

Without further ado, I'm please to share with you a few of my personal favourites from my best friend's wedding. Please feel free to check out the full gallery.

Brittany & Jeff