Wedding Photo Retouching and Post-Processing
Did you know that a large part of the cost of a wedding photo package involves editing time? If not, it’s a fact that you might want to keep in mind when you’re looking for someone to capture those special moments during your wedding day. Weddings are the most challenging of events to shoot in many ways and getting the desired results in-camera is often impossible.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how some of these problems arise and how they’re fixed in the processing stages. Then, I’ll explain how Fiona Image takes a unique approach to this part of the wedding photo process that assures our clients of both the best results and the best value in your wedding package.
White Balance Correction
A wedding shoot often involves mixed lighting or quickly-changing lighting conditions that can result in parts or all of a photo with color rendition that’s “off”. This is a result of white balance settings on the camera that don’t match the light in the photo. Rather than go into all the technical reasons this happens, I’ll just give you an example. Let’s look at the opening photo for this article:
The image below has a “warm” cast that renders the skin tones reddish and the areas of the image that should be white with a yellow tint. It isn’t overpowering in this image and might go unnoticed by the average viewer.
One possible reason for this result is insufficient charge time for the flash batteries between rapid shots, which can happen to even the best photographer. Now take a look at the professionally corrected version below. The skin tones are much more accurate and the whites are nice and bright. Which image would you rather have in your wedding album?
Digital Noise Reduction
Another very common issue with photos taken during a wedding, reception, rehearsal dinner or other nuptial-related event is noise in the image. It looks like grains of sand and happens when an image is recorder at a high ISO speed setting. If you don’t know what that is, that’s ok. The important thing to know is that it’s a setting that wedding shooters often have to push higher than normal because of dim lighting.
The problem with digital noise is that it’s often hard to see, but its effect on a photo is remarkable. Check out the photo below:
In looking at the overall image, what you’ll notice is a lack of sharpness. If you look at the enlarged inset, though, you can see the grainy appearance of the image. This isn’t an error on the photographer’s part; it’s simply a by-product of shooting at a high ISO setting to allow for low light. Unfortunately, it will become more pronounced with sharpening.
Now let’s see what happens when that little bit of noise is professionally reduced in post-processing by a professional retoucher:
Look how much sharper and cleaner every element in the image appears, from the happy couple to the smiling face of the bridesmaid on the left. It’s worth noting that too much noise reduction will soften all the details of an image, so the person editing your photo needs to have a well-trained eye.
Wedding photographers shoot in some very tricky situations for exposure metering. They’re also often grabbing those shots in a hurry and don’t have time to make the fine adjustments required to compensate for less-than-perfect lighting. The image below will be our next example:
This photo is almost what the photographer was trying to achieve, but the bride’s face was silhouetted too much to really make it effective. The most likely cause of an image like this one is exposure metering that centered on the wrong portion of the scene. In this case, it cut down the exposure too much because of the strong backlight. Here’s the corrected version:
Now, we can see the bride’s face, the detail in her hair and even a bit of the room behind her. You’ll also notice that the backlight is whiter, giving the image a less “muddy” appearance. Once again, skillful photo editing saves the day (or the shot, at least).
Other Common Problems
Most lifeless or unsuccessful wedding photos are caused by the problems above, however, there are two other steps that quite often have to be taken:
Skin retouching: Lighting conditions can often bring out skin imperfections and create uneven skin tones. Correcting those issues is important to making sure you look your absolute best in your photos.
Image Sharpness: Almost any image with a real “Wow!” factor has been sharpened and optimized for the way it will be viewed (as a print or electronically). The techniques for sharpening images vary widely and an expert post-processor will know which to use and how to use it effectively for a particular image.
How we Assure the Best Results at the Best Price
I’m willing to bet you’re seeing the importance of professional retouching and post-processing for your wedding photos and the difference it makes in the photos you receive. At Fiona Image, we’ve always known the value of these steps and that’s why we do things a little differently: We have our own, in-house team of professional photo retouchers. Post-processing wedding photos is all they do and they do it better than most photographers.
When your photographer completes the photo shoots, the images are sent directly to our processing team. They evaluate each photo and make all the necessary corrections to meet our strict quality standards. Because they specialize in this process, they complete the process faster than the average wedding photographer. They also provide spectacular results.
Our professional photographers deliver outstanding photos and our photo processing staff brings out the best in each one. It’s just one more way Fiona Image delivers the best possible quality and value for our wedding photography clients. Your special day should be remembered in photos that capture all the love, warmth and joy of the occasion. Our goal is to make sure that it does.