I was recently chatting with some friends about my work as a Photographer. The interesting part of the conversation was their emphasis on Photoshop. In fact, as they were speaking, it sounded as if Photoshop is what I do. Like I’m a Professional Photoshopper.
The truth is, Photographers are experts in photography. We make photos with our cameras and develop them with software (ie: Lightroom and Photoshop). We are not graphic artists who make art with Photoshop.
What I just said, above…that’s the meat. You can go ahead and re-read it if you were skimming casually through this post.
In fact, if you want to know how to aggravate a photographer? Use the words, “you can just photoshop that”. It seems to be a common misconception that Photographers love spending time fixing ketchup stains, runny noses, wrinkled clothing, undyed hair roots, tan lines, and life’s other imperfections with Photoshop.
Photoshop does have it’s place in our work. I use Photoshop every day on every photo. But probably not for what you think.
The thing about professional photography is that we shoot in a file format called RAW. When you shoot in RAW, you need to edit photos. You can’t even view RAW photos on your computer without professional software that will enable you to convert them. RAW photos lack contrast, they are grey and blah, they literally look like they have a dull film over them. They need to be edited before they look as good as they do on the back of our camera.
My process is to import the RAW photos into Lightroom where I adjust the white balance (if needed), the crop, and the lighting. This is where I also cull down the photos I took to the photos I keep. Once I’m happy with my Lightroom adjustments, I edit the images in Photoshop.
In Photoshop, I’m doing detail work (fixing acne, smoothing skin) and playing with the light & contrast some more. If I’m feeling sassy, this is where I’d also add something artsy, like a unicorn or rainbow. Or thought bubbles for what really happened during my family’s photoshoot.
So here are some before and after edits from my family’s session to give you a sense of what I type of editing we do. These photos were shot by Sarah (using my camera). It was pretty dark out and I asked Sarah to shoot the images underexposed, knowing I would adjust them (this is where shooting in RAW comes in handy).
The whole gang.
Me & my love.
My love got a new headshot for Linked In.
And from a less dark situation, this one is from my son’s senior portrait shoot last week.
The moral of the story: don’t wear ketchup stained shirts to photoshoots.