• Holly

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, after listening to my daughter scream all day. I'm human and I'll miss things. I also try to limit how much I edit while my daughter is at home, awake and bouncing around. 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, leave out any that are out of focus, or any that just look awkward, then bring them 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.

**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. :)

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!


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On location portrait photographer, based in Poquoson, Va