Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Professional Quality: Before & After Shots

There is a common belief nowadays that any time you want your picture taken, all you have to do is call on the relative with the digital SLR and you'll get pictures as good as the pros. That's fine, if your relative is a pro. If he or she isn't, you'll end up with the same pictures you used to moan and groan about in the days of film.

Digital SLRs don't make better pictures; better photographers make better pictures!

Like me, more professional photographers today are working hard after the picture is taken to make it the best it can be in ways they couldn't imagine ten or fifteen years ago. During the picture-taking process a professional photographer uses all the training, talent, and experience they have to create a great image. Sometimes that just isn't enough though. Sometimes we have to work extra hard to make our subjects look great after the shoot is over.

Notice this shot: (click on image to enlarge)The subject's skin is almost perfect, so removal of a few blemishes and some touch up to the eyes was all that was required; but after the shoot was over it was determined the watch on her wrist just didn't work, so it was removed as well.

That edit work was relatively easy compared to what I did here, though: (click on image to enlarge)All the make up in the world wasn't going to conceal the blemishes on his skin that day. So I had to become the dermatologist later on and edit out all the marks. I didn't remove the skin texture though. You can still see the signs that his skin isn't without its flaws; just that it wasn't breaking out like it was the day of the shoot. Many people today go too far in improving the complexion of their subjects, and in turn create more mannequin-like complexions. One fellow photographer I know calls them plastic people.

Edit work like this after the photo session with a client has ended is what takes up a majority of a photographer's time for each job. The photo shoot itself may take an hour or so, but editing may take another five or six hours (or more), depending on the number of images ordered and the complexity of edits required. An all-day shoot could literally take weeks of work for a photographer to process!

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