Updated: Mar 15
It's been over ten years since I moved from Seattle to Southern California. When not shooting weddings, I'm editing photos, more time editing than shooting really. I could make this part of the job easier on myself by just selecting the best 300 photos and deleting the rest. This is common in the industry so the finished product looks overall stronger and the photographer looks like a pro's pro. I will admit that I did this when starting out, but I always felt that maybe I was throwing away someone's memories because it wasn't a perfect photo, so now I edit all the photos.
When I first moved to California, I was shooting weddings with a partner and we named the company IMA Foto. My partner has since moved on and I have been running the company on my own, I kept the name because it was just too much work to make the changes. Well, I recently moved markets from primarily San Diego to Temecula/No. County San Diego and this seemed like the perfect time to reevaluate my business and start a new website to go along with the new name.
What does any of this have to do with editing style?
Well as I was going over the website's new design, I notice just how much my style has changed thus reinforcing my decision to give clients two sets of photos, a natural edit, and a more creative edit. I feel that my clients prefer the more creative edit, but that is now, what will they like it in 10 years, or better yet how will they like the stylized one in 30 years.
To highlight the evolution of my style, I decided to go into the archives and get some old photos to show a comparison between the original RAW, the file sent to the client, my new natural edit, and finally the new stylized edit.
Please pardon how the photos look below, this blog does not lend itself well to posting comparison photos.
1. This is how the file looks when I open in Lightroom, my preferred editing software. Photos tend to look a bit flat when in Lightroom, this is done purposely because the photographer is supposed to control the final outcome. When one shoots with a phone or small camera, it's the camera that decides how the final photo will look and it does with its own processing.
2. My original edit, I did a revised edit for a blog post on editing some years ago that I thought I did much better. But this is what my client got about 10 years ago.
3. Edited today, honestly, the details look much better on my computer than it does on the compressed upload here. But overall the colors and tones are what I see on my editing computer.
4. Here is my 2020 stylized version. My stylized versions tend to hide skin blemishes better, Nina may not have been the best example because she has exceptional skin, a few freckles, but no bumps, scars, or any defect.
5. Below is an alternative stylized edit. Because I am no longer adhering to keeping the photos natural, I will edit the image on what I consider pleasing but not necessarily accurate.
6. Being in the realm of not having to recreate an accurate image, I will sometimes go to Black and White if I feel it sets the mood better.
So there it is, when I get hired to do a job, not only must I try to recreate the moment, but also attempt to add my personal touch on how the photos look best. Has my editing style improved, or will my new edits look just as bad in the future as my edit from 10 years ago? I will know that answer in 10 years when I revisit the issue, but at least my clients will have a clean edit with no "filtered" looks.