Have you ever wondered how some photos appear so effortlessly beautiful? Did you ever do a photo shoot with a photographer, and think there is no way this is going to look good with all this mud or other stuff around?? Well, the reason for these perfect photos is the lovely result of editing by the professional photographers. The attention to detail. The ability to remove the things such as leashes, lead ropes, stray hairs, eye boogers, flies, gnats, mud, toys and yes, even the not so photo worthy poop piles!
I recently did a photo shoot with Gina DeSantis from Let's Dance Dressage in Clearfield, PA. After the shoot, as I edited photos in my normal spot in our living room while binge watching Game of Throne's with my husband, he was amazed at the transformation of one of the photos from the shoot. Even my mentor, Shelley Paulson told me "The grass totally changes the feeling of the photo. The softness of the light and the setting matches the softness of the woman and her expression. Well done!"
So, what is it that a professional photographer does, compared to others with a camera or cell phone? I thought I would show you the exact image my husband and Shelley commented on to show you what I started with and then the final result.
Culling Images & Color Adjusting in Lightroom
Culling images after a shoot for me is done in Lightroom. I shoot my images in a raw format. What does this mean you ask? I had zero clue either until I started diving into all the education I invested in the skill in 2019.
When shooting in a format like JPEG, image information is compressed and lost. Because no information is compressed with RAW you’re able to produce higher quality images, as well as correct problem images that would be unrecoverable if shot in the JPEG format.
So, when I copy my images from a camera card onto my computer, I then import the raw files into Lightroom for the first round of editing. In Lightroom, I go through one by one looking for in my case, horse ears up, eyes open (or closed depending on the look I'm going for), expression of the horse, expression of the owner, body posture and so on. I keep or reject images accordingly.
I then use white balance as my first step to color correct. I will then adjust the brightness, saturation of colors, and contrast. At times I will bring out more of the shadows, or lower shadows in the image. If you've never worked in Lightroom, I am sure that is all just jibberish, as it was to me when I first started. But all in all, it's how I start the process of creating amazing images and works of art.
After the culling and color adjusting, I take the image into Photoshop. Here, I will remove unwanted items. In the above image, I had another human to remove, fence post, toys and poop pile. Sometimes I will remove lead ropes or leashes on dogs, remove blemishes on horse such as scrapes and cuts, missing hair I will fix, blemishes on a dog or human as well. Sometimes, I will remove an entire background!
Another thing that I do either in Lightroom or in Photoshop is cropping the image. It is a needed step to improve the appearance of a picture. Cropping involves zooming in on the object that I have taken a picture of. The photo’s composition can be changed entirely while cropping. I try my best to keep my images within the rule of thirds. In the rule of thirds, photos are divided into thirds with two imaginary lines vertically and two lines horizontally making three columns, three rows, and nine sections in the images. Important compositional elements and leading lines are placed on or near the imaginary lines and where the lines intersect. This draws the viewers eyes to where I want them. It is what can make or break a beautiful image.
I will sometimes use the Golden Ratio as well, which is just another way to compose an image to be pleasing to the eye.
Now that I have broken my process down a bit for you, you can see that being a professional photographer is more than just knowing how to operate a camera. Some of what it takes to create amazing images, comes after you snap the shutter and during the editing process.
I have spent thousands this past year on my education from photography courses, Photoshop & Lightroom courses, workshops, and mentoring so that I can create beautiful heartfelt images for each and every one of my clients! I look forward to creating these images for you!