Before + After {our editing process}

We get a lot of clients and other photographers asking us how much editing we do to the photos. So I thought I would put up a before and after so everyone can get an idea of how much time we put into our work. We are not against a little retouching of the photos. If we can do it in Lightroom we will. We want our couples to receive "Finals" not "Proofs".   We will take out pimples on the brides and grooms, lighten up a few tired eyes, or remove some lipstick on teeth. We will swap faces in shots if someone blinked in one of the photos.(that is done, of course, in Photoshop) We may remove an unwanted tourist, or trash can in the background of the beach shots. If we can't take out or crop out the ugly exit signs we probably will turn the photo black and white. We color correct for temperature and contrast. We use the brush tool for any dodging &  burning we may have to do (especially in ceremonies where the bride or groom is in the shade and the other is not.) We turn photos black and white by our choice. We straighten horizon lines. We will bracket in camera and photoshop the images later together. We crop all sorts of sizes; square, 4x5, 1x2, what ever we feel makes that photo stronger. We do what we feel is appropriate for that weddings style and ascetic and best tells the story of that day. If the day was a bit cloudy and grey we will keep the images a bit cooler, if it was bright and sunny and warm we will keep the images warm. We want every couple to feel that their wedding is unique, and we edit that way.  We use our own presets in Lightroom, some of Lightrooms presets, and also we have a few Totally Rad sets we adjusted to our taste. We batch process where we can but still go through and fine tune each image if needed.  We spend hours on our editing process from the culling down the images (getting rid of obvious bad ones, or trimming down the multiples of similar shots) to the full production of going through the final chosen images (usually 1000+) one by one and really looking at it. We aren't against outsourcing and probably will one day, but for now our art is not just in our camera but in our final production of the photos. Some photos need more attention, some don't. We take pride in our edits but that means we take a long time too. Hey even Ansel Adams spent hours and hours in the dark room working and manipulating his prints. Although we really try to see all this while shooting, we all know how hectic weddings can be and by far we aren't perfect either.   As a wedding photographers we all know you can only control so much especially if given really packed in timelines. (We are really involved with our clients timelines but sometimes we get a few planners that disregard our suggestions... This is topic for another day) There are so many factors that can effect the photos. Every hotel that that bride gets ready at is different, some bridal parties are more "messy" in the room then others, every lighting situation at ceremonies is different, every venue has more or less options to shoot at and/or good angles, some families are harder to gather, or some wedding parties are less cooperative.... We do our best to see the whole picture in camera, but sometimes you do what you got to do to get the shot, sometimes you feel you spend the whole wedding within a one inch frame never looking up. But we are experienced with all of this and work with it not against it. We shoot a lot and with a lot of equipment, so that we are as fully prepared as we can for every lighting situation. We expose our digital mostly for the highlights, underexposing a half stop sometimes (shots depending) We expose our film for the shadows over exposing a full stop. (again shots depending) Besides the dark venues, specific indoor portraits, and night time receptions, we shoot 85% all natural light. We will use a flash when we feel we need it. We typically light our family photos and some of the wedding party shots, especially if it is higher afternoon light and no available open shade and/or we want to hold some detail in the background without having everyone face the sun. No one wants squinting hot photos. Keeping our clients comfortable while shooting is REALLY important to us, and we do what we feel at that moment will achieve the best shot.

We scope out 90% of the venues with our couples before the wedding day so that we can all be on the same page for what to expect, where to take photos, how much time we will need, and if we need to bring or rent any other equipment. Here is a list of what we bring to every wedding. (unfortunately some timelines don't allow us to use all of it...)

3- Canon 5DMk11 bodies 6- Canon Lenses: 50 1.2, 35 1.4, 85 1.2, 70-200 2.8, 100 2.8, 16-35 2.8 1- Canon 35mm Eos 1v 1- Hasselblad H2 with 80mm 2.8 and 4 film backs 1- Yashica Twin Lens 124G 3- 580ex11 speedlites 1- Profoto Acute B 600R (all the accessories, pocket wizards, sync cords, reflector, etc) 1- Stand bag with tripod, monopod, light stand, soft box, photek soft lighter, gels, etc. 2- Flexfills silk and reflector (wedding dependent) 1- Assistant to carry all this shit, set up the light, download cards, reload film, or grab a few 3rd angle shots if we need it.

{Stuff we would like to bring but need another set of hands and more time given for us on timelines is our Holga, our Polaroid 600 SE, and our Polaroid sx-70 }


BTW we also adjust our film too if we need too. Not all film scans from the lab are perfect, some also need a little retouching. We pay for Large scans (40-50 mb) so we can crop and straighten horizon lines, and deliver the same size files of our film and digital to our client for their printing pleasures up to a 13x19 size and even bigger with most labs.

Any Major retouching that is asked of us; stray hairs, thinning, removing major objects, rubber bands on girls wrists, etc.. is an extra fee.

We are always grateful for our clients patience and we always send them large sneak peeks about 5 weeks after their weddings so they aren't totally dying by the 10 week wait period.

So to give you an idea of what we might do, here are some before and afters. (These are just screen captures)


After: Brightness, contrast, warmth, highlight recovery, lamp taken out.

Before After: Warmth and contrast with our custom preset.

Before: exposed specifically for the veil.

After: Brightened with brushes and turned black and white.


After: Warmth, brightened, contrast, tourist removal.BeforeAfter: Warmth, Contrast, highlight recovery all with our custom preset.BeforeAfter: cooled down a teense, magenta/red brought down, blemish lightening, highlight recovery.BeforeAfter: Warmth and Contrast with our custom preset.BeforeAfter: Warmth, exposure, contrast using our custom preset.

Before: oops we underexposed by a full stop and a half. :( our bad.After:  black and white, exposure up, dodge and burn, add some grain, noise reduction... turns out we like the black and white better. :)Before: all time favorite shot EVER!After: warmed and brightened and a little desaturation. Before cropAfter crop: the plane on her collarbone and seeing just a bit of the smiles to us is the story. Squares (we think) capture the abstract better.Before crop: HorizontalAfter crop: vertical to put emphasis on Katy praying.BeforeAfter: warmth and brightened with our custom preset, and leaf removed from ground by dress.We hope this gives a basic idea of how we work!!

Cheers, C+E

09.20.11, one comment below mentions the coldness of digital images. I want to point out that this really could be helped by using a custom white balance. However, for our work flow, since we use three different digital bodies at a wedding, we only use the daylight setting on the camera during the day, captured in RAW and then adjust the white balance in post. The reason is we find the open shade or cloudy settings to be too warm at times. Also, this way all of our files at a given time of day will have the same base line color temp. For night stuff we use either the tungsten setting or a Kelvin setting that we huddled over and set on the cameras in agreement. Cheers, -Erin