Photographic Editing

Photographic editing, why do I bother to edit my photographs?

I had a recent encounter with a model who was complaining about how long it was taking a photographer to send photographs back to her. His response was that he was still working on the edits and would have them to her as soon as he could. She was complaining about the editing and saying that it shouldn’t take him so long.

I took some time to think about my editing process and I realized photographic editing is both time-consuming and costly.

Woman working on document on computer

Can I deliver photographs with no editing? Of course, but it wouldn’t be the quality of work that I WANT to deliver to my customers. Thus, I find myself sitting in front of a rather costly computer for hours editing photographs. It takes me 30 minutes to PROPERLY edit a photograph that I’m happy with. For a magazine, well that’s a whole other story. Edits for a magazine can take upwards of an hour depending on the publisher requirements.

You see, I take my time to get everything done properly in my camera before I even take a shot. This is why it might take me an hour to get 6 to 8 photographs that I find acceptable. I don’t shoot hundreds of photographs in a one-hour session, closer to 30. The more time I spend taking quality photographs, the less time I spend in front of a computer trying to fix bad photographs.

Despite my efforts, I still find myself sitting in front of my computer making edits.

Exposing a photograph so the sky isn’t white and the subjects aren’t dark is challenging. This isn’t a problem with the camera itself but an issue of trying to capture proper color and detail in both the sky/background and subject. I could go into all the scientific mumbo jumbo but I’ll leave that for another post.

Woman walking on road, back facing camera
Low contrast, properly exposed photograph.

Fixing such an issue requires an editing program. These programs have become the modern “darkroom”. All that time photographers spent in the darkroom is now spent in front of a computer. The cost associated with chemicals, papers, and other accessories is now paid out to software companies and computer manufacturers. Don’t think for a second that I’m not shelling out the $$$ when I edit photographs. Every time I drop some CASH on photography I ask myself, “Is this WORTH it?”.

Then I remind myself that yes, it’s worth it when I look at the change my photographs go through to produce something that makes me happy. Because, that’s what it comes down to, my HAPPINESS.

Woman walking down road with back facing the camera
Creatively edited photographs with light and color adjustments.

This photograph took me about 15 minutes to edit start to finish, overall it was a quick edit due to the lack of skin retouching.  Images requiring skin retouching can take 30 minutes or more to edit.

I’m happy with the results and I could see an image like this in a magazine or an ad for a brand of jeans.  The polished finish is icing on a cake and I’m left feeling satisfied.