Can't you just photoshop me?
We live in an instant society in an Instagram era and with so many apps on the market that make professional photography and touching up look easy and quick, this is a question that often gets raised.
But there is a big difference between 'editing or processing' an image, and 'touching one up', let me explain how.
RAW MEANS RAW
As professional photographers, we shoot in a format called RAW, this is not just another way of saying a picture. RAW is a file type that is more or less like dipping a sponge into paint.
" raw file is the image as seen by the camera's sensor. Think of it like unprocessed film. Rather than letting the camera process the image for you, turning it into a JPEG image, shooting in raw allows you to process the image to your liking."
RAW files must be edited, you can not use them without first processing them. Think it won't make a difference if your photographer doesn't edit your images? Think again! Check out the difference between RAW files (unaltered) and JPEG (processed by the camera).
You can not edit a RAW file on an app or on a computer, you need to purchase a licence for expensive software to allow you to import the images and edit/process them. Raw files are the master files of your shoot. It is for all of these reasons that you will hear photographers refer to editing and often to how much time it takes to edit images.
SO WHY BOTHER SHOOTING IN RAW?
It's a great question, why bother if they look so dull after capture? Well, the truth is RAW files are HUGE, they contain an enormous amount of information about the photograph and essentially sucks up all the details from the shot and allows us as photographers the most ability to edit or alter or stylize images after the shoot and the flexibility in shoot to make calls about how we capture our images to get the right outcome.
In our Instagram world, there is no room for the 'point, pose and shoot of our forefathers' photographers are required to produce beautiful images that match Pinterest boards no matter what the scenario, good bad or otherwise and so with these elevated expectations, shooting in raw allows us to shoot an image in a particular way that we have the most creative control in editing & retouching. Almost all pro's shoot RAW and images shot in RAW must be edited.
The below three images shows an example from a recent shoot I conducted, they show a RAW file, an edited file (Lightroom) and a lightly touched up file (Photoshop).
SO WHAT IS INCLUDED IN 'EDITING'?
When we edit a file we are essentially taking the image from the camera sensor and converting it into something that you can use, hence the term processing. As part of this process, we also do a number of minor changes to the file. We will sharpen them for print, adjust exposure, colour correct them, and do any minor adjustments that we can take care of in Lightroom that are needed (like lightening shadows for instance). What we dont do in editing is manipulate the subject of the image (more on that in touch ups). Editing is the basic processing of your images.
e and time, none of which come cheap.
TOUCHING UP YOUR EDITS
Whilst it might be difficult to see the two as separate, touching up and editing are two very different things and include two very different processes. From the time it takes to do them, to the requirements of each.
If you wish to be airbrushed or have weight removed, there are almost always additional charges after the wedding, or you can expect to pay double, sometimes triple the cost of your wedding photography booking up front. Airbrushing, digital liposuction, smoothing, spot removal, making hair bigger, waists smaller, wrinkle removal or basically any minor or major adjustments outside of simple exposure and colour adjustments are within the world of touching up and this is where things get expensive.
The before image, shows what you might expect to see from an edited image, the after image is touched up. The difference between the two is quite literally hours of work on one photo and the reason why magazines have a full staff of image editors.
Whilst pop culture throws the terms 'photoshopped' around, the truth is that it is unlikely that you will ever achieve magazine quality airbrushed images without a considerable outlay to get there. At the end of the day, whilst Instagram might be all about filters, creating full resolution edits and touch ups that can be blown up to the size of a billboard and still be convincing require considerable skills, talent, expense and time, none of which come cheap and no one really needs it to look beautiful.
Opt instead to enjoy your moment and let the photographer capture that, because in years to come, that moment the joy, the look in your eye, the split second in time reflecting your emotion, is what you will treasure much more than an airbrushed print.