I have been in the wedding photography business for over a decade and have taken many courses, classes and read countless articles to help perfect my skill. Although I have learned so much and have heeded most of the advice I receive, there is one area I have been reluctant to change. When it comes to editing photos, I have been told that professional photographers use Lightroom since it is the easiest and fastest way to edit. Lightroom also offers many different presets and filters to help make photos look amazing! It sounds appealing and for many photographers, Lightroom is the way to go. However, I have tried using it in the past and it is my conclusion that it’s just not for me.
Although I do make edits to my photos, I try not to make too many adjustments. I focus only on slight colour and contrast modifications, as well as shadows, highlights and some skin touch-ups. (No one wants their pimples to show up in photos.) I also do not use any handy presets or filters, unless I’m turning photos black and white. This makes me an odd duck in the industry. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good preset and there are so many photographers who use them and use them well! I totally get why they do and am all for it. Presets help photographers define their style and keeps it consistent, which helps them with their marketing. This in turn helps couples narrow down who they want to hire for their wedding day based on which photography style they like.
So Nettie….. if you don’t use presets, what is your style?
When describing my style I often say I am authentic, timeless, and as “true to the day” as possible. This simply means I try to get images right in camera as I am taking them, and edit photos as little as possible afterwards. My philosophy for capturing wedding photos is this: It is scientifically proven that our memories change over time. As we tell and retell stories, or hear them from someone else’s perspective, our memories alter and we perceive things differently than how they actually occurred. I don’t want the photos I take to contribute to that. I want my clients to look at their photos and remember exactly what happened in that moment. Life is beautiful as is, and I want my photos to reflect that.
So does that mean all my photos look different?….. Well yes and no. Yes they all look different because each wedding day is different. Because I am a natural light photographer, I am at the mercy of whatever the day brings. However, I tend to keep my photos on the bright airy side, rather than the dark and moody. (Unless of course, its a dark and moody kinda day)
What program do I use for editing? I use Photoshop to take out blemishes, unwanted distractions in the background and colour contrasting. I don’t nearly use or even know all of the tools I have available to me in this program. However, after one of my latest updates, I was amazed to find that one can change a persons facial and body features at the click of a button. Bigger eyes, smaller nose, fuller lips, 10 pounds lighter…etc etc.. I admit, I had a little fun with this feature on a photo of myself, but I rarely, if ever use this for my clients photos. Again, my philosophy is that people are beautiful the way they are!
The technology that exists for photo editing these days is crazy. There are programs that can take a photo in the middle summer, and turn it into a winter wonderland. You can change the time of day a photo was taken by changing the angles of shadows and the colour of the sky. Want a sunset in your shot but there wasn’t one on your wedding day? … No problem, you can just pop one in. Want a cute rainy day photo but it was a cloudless day? BOOM….. now you have a magical rain filled photo complete with rainbow. Now, I’m not saying that all photographers do edits to this extreme, (unless you happen to want a T-Rex chasing you in an open field just for fun). Unless someone is shooting for a magazine, or is a fine art photographer, no one I know in the wedding industry ever edits their photos to this extreme.
Is it cool that editing programs can do that? YES!!! and it is fun to get creative in the editing process. However, I think it’s also scary! There are less and less unaltered images out there and everything is being changed to fit an unrealistic view of the world. Heck even our selfies are filtered! For me personally, and for my business, I want to capture real life, genuine emotions and true beauty. Life is beautiful the way it is!
There is no right or wrong way to envision your wedding day or to preserve your wedding memories, as long as you are true to yourself! Do you want dark and moody photos, or vintage sepia tones? How about high contrast, unique angles and dramatic poses? Or bright, soft and romantic photos? There is a style for every type of couple out there and a photographer who can help capture that style for you.
As for me, I am happy being an odd duck, so I will keep my life and my photos true to the day and unfiltered.