I know for a fact that I'm not the only photographer that has been asked: "Can you make me look thinner?" "Can you just smooth that area?" "Maybe you can just photoshop that right out?" I totally get it, with all the technology out there for "fixing" photos, why wouldn't we want to make sure we can look like the before and afters in the magazines? So when I regretfully inform them that I don't have the software to CHANGE their appearance, I get a blank stare that tells me, well, then what DO you do? Here's what I do...I photograph YOU! I don't rely on my technology to manipulate a photo into something it's not. I haven't learned how to do composites (although that's on my list), I don't know how to clone out a random hand and I'm sorry but the only way I will make you look 10 pounds thinner is by shooting your original photograph from a flattering angle. :) So, so many photographers are VERY adept at the use of their software, to continue to make their images organic with some beautiful enhancements, and I don't discredit that at ALL!!!! I have much to learn in that department, and I've told many people, I'm just not very "tech savvy". However, what I "work" on the most is DURING my shoot, waiting patiently for the right expressions, making sure my settings are where they should be, choosing angles that flatter the subject, because, sadly, I won't be "changing" it in my post work.
I found this written by Kelsey Anderson (an amazing natural light photographer out of Las Vegas) on her philosophy behind the workshops she teaches which is EXACTLY my thoughts...she just says it better:
"I like to keep it simple. When I go to a session it is just me and my camera. Yep that is right. No flash. No reflector. Just me and my Baby (aka Nikon d700). I don’t have a bag full of lenses. I actually only shoot with my 50 1.4 and 85 1.8. Oh of course my Lensbaby Composer when I want to get a little crazy. I am a firm believer that your images must be wow straight out of camera. That Lightroom and Photoshop are used to enhance your image not fix it. The light you see in my images isn’t done in post processing. That is done in camera. I don’t add fake flare. I use the sun to create amazing flare and haze. I want to show other photographers that you shouldn’t fear the sun you should embrace it!"
Check out her Evoking You page on FB for great blogs and helpful hints. But what she says here is so true, editing software should be used for enhancing what is already fabulous. Below I'm showing you some of my before and after shots, many photographers do this to see how their editing changes the photo, but it's supposed to be subtle.
This was shot at sunset using my 85mm 1.8 lens, no reflector, no flash, SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera).
And here is the image edited. I only use Adobe Lightroom 3 in my editing. I cropped out the top of the field to create a space that makes it look like she's even further out in a field, added some warmth and some fill light. Now I've also included this photo because, yes, that weed is sticking right up in her face, but with what I use, I'm not able to remove it, which shows the importance of attention to detail at the time of the shoot. If I had just stopped and run over to pull that out of the way, it would have been SO much better! It's the little things we learn along the way. :)
Again...SOOC. This image we were "playing" with a reflector which I hardly ever use.
Here is the edited version, brightened up her face a bit.
And here is a black and white version, which I almost like better.
SOOC, I try to use the sun as a great back light, it's not something that is added in post.
Here's the edited version, again, warming it up, adding some fill light, brightening, but didn't even feel the need to crop it.
Editing is still a time intensive project, taking hours to go through hundreds of images after each session. It's not a quick fix, it's an artistic eye that looks for the details, that takes the time to zoom in and make sure the eyes are crisp and sparkling, to have the knowledge to know which images should be kept and which ones should be left alone. I love, love, LOVE doing this type of work, creating an image that is beautiful in a timeless way, that makes the client happy with the work I produced with them.
So thanks for listening to my little post. Hopefully it explains what I do and why I do it!