Most photographers say that getting the shot right in camera is important, and I agree! But I would add that the editing process is just as important. I love photo editing, and I’ve spent literally years mastering Photoshop. I thought it would be fun to show a before and after of a photo from a recent newborn session and describe my edits. You can use the slider above to toggle back and forth between the “before” and “after” versions of this photo.
One reason editing is so important is that I shoot my photos in RAW format. Straight out of the camera, a RAW file is completely unedited and and unprocessed, kind of like a digital negative. The RAW file format captures more detail from my camera’s sensor than a jpeg would, and this gives me more latitude in my editing. RAW files can usually only be viewed in software like Photoshop, but not to worry — I export all of my files to jpeg format for client delivery.
Now let’s talk about the edits. . . .
First the obvious one. The original photo is crooked! In newborn and family sessions there’s often a lot going on! I fully admit that I prioritize other details over “shooting straight.” This issue is easy to fix when I edit so why not?
I mentioned the the RAW file comes out of the camera completely unedited. As you can see from the “before” version, the white balance was initially a bit cool and the photo was slightly flat and underexposed. The skin tones look almost gray. I always edit exposure, contrast, and white balance to achieve a true to color but slightly warm look.
Another obvious one — in the “before” you can’t see baby’s profile. Her adorable face was visible in a photo I took just a second before, so I did a head swap to include it here because I especially loved the parents’ expressions in this photo.
And finally, you can see in the bottom right of the photo, right behind mom and out the window, a car on the street below. I found this distracting, so I removed it. I find that decluttering non-essential items from the background can really elevate the look of a photo. The exception to this is if a background element “tells a story” or provides context. Here it didn’t.
I’m going to post more before and afters that showcase other edits so stay tuned! In the meantime, check out some more photos from this session below!