I’ve been in this industry a long time now. It doesn’t seem like it, but I’ve spent half my life focused on photography. I don’t feel like I’m old enough to say that. With being a part of the art of photography for the last 18 years, I’ve seen a lot of changes. I started with film, learning how to get a great shot, but also learning how to make a great print. It was never as simple as just printing the negative, the image had to be coaxed out, to be the best it could be. With digital photography, the barriers to get into this industry have come down tremendously, but unfortunately that’s also meant a whole lot of people who don’t understand the full art and process of photography. There’s an art to working with the subject, an art to lighting and exposing the image in camera, an art to developing the image, and what’s most often forgotten these days… an art to printing and finishing the image. I’ve spent the last 18 years mastering each of these steps so that you don’t have to. While most photographers can do a fair bit better than the straight out of camera image, very few have the skill and expertise to take the image to it’s full potential (adding some crazy filters doesn’t count, although they do have a place, they’re often used to hide the fact that the image just isn’t that great on it’s own).
While tastes vary and you may like a very natural looking image or a very “wow” or “hero” image as the one below, it doesn’t actually change the amount of retouching needed for a great finished image a whole lot. Either way, when choosing a wedding photographer, make sure you choose someone who won’t just hand over the files, but who will rather create art for you. A photograph printed on display tells a 1000 words, a digital file gets lost and buried under the never ending deluge of images and content being generated constantly in this day and age. Please print your images!
Chelsea & Reid had a gorgeous wedding a few weeks ago at the Catta Verdera Country Club in Lincoln, relatively near our Sacramento studio. This past Sunday they came in to select images for their wedding album and the image below was chosen for their wedding album cover. It will be printed under acrylic and look phenomenal when finished. The following are versions of the same image in the various stages from the album cover image back to straight out of camera with a brief description below each and at the end a video of the process from start to finish (coming soon!).
This first image is the cover of their wedding album. Part of finishing the image is knowing the final output, so that the image can be the best it can be in the given medium and at the given crop. In this case, it means a fair bit needed to be trimmed from one side of the image. To keep the veil showing as much as possible, we cropped the left side in and up a touch to help put them in a more visually intriguing position with the frame. One subtle thing that’s often missed when images are cropped is that it often creates slightly awkward areas within the image. In this case, the bottom left corner showed the path that you can see in the other images below, but without context, it just looked like a brown triangle. So as you can see we went ahead and filled in the grass for this version.
This next version is the full image retouched. As you’ll see below, it’s entirely different than where it started.
This version is the same as above, but is now cropped to panoramic. If I was going to put an image on my wall, this is probably how I would crop it.
This version is the image as originally shown to our couple. This is what we call an edited image. Meaning that it’s been processed well beyond the original the camera took, but it hasn’t been extensively retouched like the versions above.
This version of the image is a little behind the scenes trick we use on occasion. When an image is so bright that details are lost, we can often go back to the original raw file and process a special version just for those details. In this case, the veil behind Chelsea’s head was blown out to pure white in our standard version above, so that we could no longer see the detail in the veil. In this version as you can see, most of the detail is back (by underexposing the overall image) and by layering the two images, we’re able to make a special composite that brings those details back in.
While we’d never normally show this version, I always think it’s interesting to look at the original straight image as the camera saw it. This has not been modified in any way from how it was taken.
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Mischa Purcell Cr.Photog.