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My editing process and what's included

If you're a client, you've heard me say, "I don't base my being booked on how many sessions I shoot in a week or a day, I base it on editing". I'd like to explain what I do behind the scenes in this blog post.

First, I want you to know that I like to take my time to edit each image. I don't like to edit multiple sessions simultaneously, or edit while I'm exhausted. I'm human, I'll miss things and HBP is a one person business. I also try to limit how much I edit while my daughter is at home. I am a work from home mom and my smarter-than-me, handful-of-a-kid is only young once. :)

Second, depending on the size of your session, I upload between 50 and 150 images from my camera card, onto my computer! Especially if it involves a kiddo that doesn't want to smile, I tend to hold my finger down and click away as I'm trying everything to get him or her to smile. No matter how many images I take, I sift through each and every one of them, as you'll know if you keep reading. :)

Third, I shoot all sessions in RAW format. That probably doesn't mean anything to you, but it means a lot to me! RAW files are like digital negatives. They're unprocessed and I have more editing control with them. Also, I couldn't give you digital images in that format, without you needing Adobe Camera Raw and some knowledge of it, to turn them into JPEG files yourself.

Now that you know a little more info, here's the process:

I upload all of your images to my computer, then bring every single image I shot into Adobe Bridge. I go through each one in Bridge, pick the best out of duplicates and give them 5 stars; I leave out any that are out of focus, or any that just look awkward, then bring the 5 starred images into Adobe Camera Raw. From there, I start my process of adjusting exposure, sharpness, color, etc., if needed, on every image I narrowed down. For groups of images that are exposed about the same, I will adjust them in bulk, otherwise, I adjust each one separately. I then save the images into a new folder. After I hit the save button, my changes will save to a different folder, in a client friendly format, AKA jpeg. At this point, I set aside 1 or 2 that really stick out to me, finish editing them, save them web sized, then email them to you as sneak peeks. Also, at this point, if I have a previous session I was working on before I shot yours, I stop the editing process on yours and get back to theirs... It's only fair!

AIRBRUSHING AND MORE: So, now I have a folder of all the images I picked out and most of them are your final images. Some are close to perfect, but I still tweak and enhance them a little more, using Photoshop. In Photoshop, I adjust the blacks, the color, add in missing backdrop, take out distractions, straighten the horizon and things to that nature. If I'm asked to, I will smooth blemishes, airbrush, slim, etc., *to an extent*. It is a given that I will soften harsh shadows under the eyes, take out distracting background elements, do things like take out bra straps, swap out a mad face with a smiling face (as long as the lighting and posing are the same/similar), without clients asking me to. Also, if the light is harsh on your face, or if I got a close up shot of you, my camera and lens tend to show every little detail, down to little tiny facial hairs and pores. In those cases, I do, *very subtly* smooth out pores, lines and non-permanent blemishes without being asked to. Also see

**If you have requests about things like smoothing wrinkles and slimming, please ask me to do them before I start editing! I try to accommodate requests within reason. But, keep in mind that I do not want to completely change the way you look!



HEAD SWAPS: For any images that have the potential to be the perfectly posed and smiling shot, I will superimpose 2 pictures together to try and make a "perfect" picture! For instance, I love capturing your unposed, real moments, BUT I feel like I also need to try to get the shots where everyone is smiling and looking at my lens too; I will then try to make a composite, *as long as the lighting and posing are the same/similar*. A lot of times, I keep both of the images I used, plus the new image I created with them in your gallery.




PHOTOSHOP MAGIC: For some of my sessions, Photoshop magic is included in the price. Adding snow, making fairy dust come out of the pages of a book and so on are all considered Photoshop magic. Going against everything I said above about keeping things realistic goes out the window when a little girl wants me to make her wand glow. :)


For an ongoing list of things I edit for my clients, please click here.

Holly Butler Photography | Editing

Lastly, I convert each image to black and white, then save those to your final folder too. For an Ultimate outdoor family session, I get 65+ edited images in your online gallery, but if you include black and whites, you get 130+ images!

It takes me, on average, 15 minutes to edit each image, but I've found myself here and there, spending an hour on an image to try and make a composite look real. Depending on what I have to edit before your session, it could take me 1-2 weeks to edit your session, if you picked my largest collection. Please keep in mind that I'm human and I can get behind for reasons like, sickness in the family, family emergencies, power outages, mandatory evacuations, or scheduled vacations (which I let clients know about in advance). Also, especially in the summer, my other job is being a stay at home mom, as we don't send our daughter to childcare.

Shew! That's the full explanation of my process. Bottom line: it takes more time than you might think!

UPDATE FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS: Since posting this, I've had photographers ask me if I can edit some, or all of their images taken. While I tried this, I was unable to keep up with my own editing, so I had to start saying no! If you're a photographer and you like my editing style, check out my Photoshop actions and overlays on my etsy page!

UPDATE FOR PROFESSIONAL EDITING COMPANIES: I still edit all of my own work and am not looking to hire anyone, no matter how busy I am. Thank you! :)

Thanks for looking!