One of my favorite aspects of photography is post production. I love taking photos and creating images, but what I always get most excited about, is looking at the image on the back of my camera and envisioning the end results.
When I am retouching images there are a few key things I am always thinking about and are important to understand.
I incorporate all these things into my retouching, and they guide me in making decisions on how the images will look.
My process of editing an image begins in Lightroom. I upload all my sessions into a Lightroom catalog where I cull through the images and batch edit. Here I correct for exposure, contrast, white balance, clarity, color balance, highlights, shadows and cropping.
I then move the strongest images from the session to Photoshop where they will be completed. Photoshop allows for more precision editing, so I may further adjust what I've already corrected for in Lightroom. How much I adjust will depend on how I want the mood of the image to come across. I have a few general rules when creating moods.
1. Light images will have a "light" mood
2. Dark images can have a "darker" mood
3. Correspond the mood with the model and overall look of the image
I find these three factors helpful in avoiding "awkward" images. For example, if you take an image of a young child dressed in a very sweet manor and photographed in a field of flowers with a blue sky and puffy white clouds, it would be rather inappropriate to edit this image in a way that has a "darker" mood. For example, you wouldn't want to create harsh shadows, darker highlights and you wouldn't want to have low saturation or hard clarity. The overall image would contradict itself, in that the sweet little girl would be put in a very dark setting.
Once I have edited for the mood of the image I will then begin retouching the model. Everyone is beautiful as they are. With that being said, my goal is not to change, alter, or manipulate the model, but to enhance the models natural beauty. I always look to minimize the appearance of dark under eyes, prominent wrinkles and scars, noticeable blemishes and distracting elements.
The final thing I look at is the light and shadows. I make sure the light and shadows are where I want them, both on the model and the background. I use light to bring out features of the model that I want to stand out, and shadows to sculpt the model and background. I want my images to have depth and contrast, which will make them come to life.
Sometimes I may spend far too much time on one single image, but once I begin the editing process, it's hard for me to stop until I have perfected what I am trying to achieve. Regardless of how much time I put into an image, not a single moment ever feels like work. I love to create gorgeous images that stand out among other portraiture. Images that make people feel beautiful and confident.
Below are a couple examples of before and after images. The before images have already been processed through Lightroom, and the after images show only the process in Photoshop.
I hope this gives a better understanding of my editing process and what guides my decision making in how I retouch my images.