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Q. Do you hope to get the perfect image right in your camera or do you rely on editing it later? – Hazel Morgan, Merseyside UK

A. I always try to get as much right as possible when I shoot, so I don’t have to spend much time on editing later. However there are some things I just have to do, because some of the images are too detailed, and of course I may want to change the shot to black and white etc. See below.

In Camera

  1. Composing the shot is really important – you can do a bit of cropping later if necessary, but it’s much harder to compose afterwards – far better to compose in camera.
  2. Getting rid of stuff you don’t want is also crucial – don’t rely on removing things later when you can move that cigarette butt now! Check your location and clear everything out that you don’t want. I set up a scene with consistent light and background, so that the person can move around in it and I can concentrate on them, without worrying that a pole will suddenly be sticking out of their head – or a dustbin will be in the background etc.
  3. Shooting in soft, even light results in much more flattering pictures of people, than harsh or patchy sunlight.
  4. I position people so they look their best, rather than fake it later, because I find people want to feel it’s real, not cheated.
  5. Using good light and paying attention to detail and composition will make editing much easier.

Editing

  1. I use Lightroom because it’s so easy to sort the images out, and also once I’ve edited one image, I can synch similar ones – makes workflow much quicker.
  2. I sometimes lift the exposure slightly to make the picture brighter.
  3. I usually make the skin softer to reduce the appearance of lines.
  4. I use some Lightroom presets to give different effects – such as black and white, vintage, cross process etc.
  5. If someone has a mark, say a spot or scratch – I would remove this in Lightroom too.
  6. I then put some of the images into Photoshop and reduce the lines under people’s eyes, if necessary. But only slightly – I don’t want it to look as if they have been airbrushed. It’s just that I find the camera brings out way more detail than normally seen when looking at a person. It’s ok to see every feather on an eagle – but I find women don’t like that much detail!

Remember, editing is a very personal thing! Every photographer has their own preferences as to how dark or light a picture is, and how much editing is done to the actual picture. We all have our different styles, and you should go with your gut instincts as to how much you want to do. It’s all personal preference in the end!

All my client’s images are edited by Marko Nurminem, who is the most amazing retoucher. I highly recommend his courses – which are really easy to understand, great fun, and you’ll leave with some really simple and quick techniques to improve your images and make postproduction so much easier. Contact him at markonurminen.com for details of courses and one-to-one tuition.

Annabel x