My Editing Process | For Photographers

I was asked by a blog reader if I would mind posting about how I edit my pictures. I guess this post is proof that, no, I don't mind. :-) Many people are reluctant to share their "secrets," but the fact is all the information you can ever want is pretty much out there if you look for it. Nobody is completely original in their process, and if you can be a help, then why not share a little?

Learning editing was definitely a process of trial and error for me. I started out with Adobe Photoshop Elements and like most beginning photographers, got sucked into the world of ACTIONS! Ooooh, so many fun actions. :-) I did have the advantage of having been looking at good photographers' work before I really started getting into it myself, so I avoided making too many glaring mistakes that are common. I did my share of playing with vintage actions, but eventually came to the realization that while I occasionally liked them on some photos, and some photographers do it very well, that was not my style. I finally found something that I liked pretty consistently.

Then I bought Adobe Lightroom. I wasn't sure if I'd like it, because it was definitely an adjustment from Photoshop. Once I discovered the Sync function, though, I was sold. :-) I took some photos I had edited in Photoshop, and attempted to recreate the look in Lightroom to figure out what on earth all those sliders did.

That brings us to today, where I have reached a point of consistently editing with the same look across my work. I don't use presets in Lightroom because though I have the same style, conditions vary from shoot to shoot and no preset is going to fit that perfectly. Instead I edit a photo from the set and sync it with all the other photos that match. Here are some before and afters - I shoot in RAW so the SOOC images are very dull and flat and need a little boosting.

My typical basic edit involves bringing up the exposure a little if necessary (I am still working on achieving the right exposure in camera - it tends to look brighter on my camera's display than when I get it on to my computer, so I need to work on over-exposing even more than I think I need to!). Then I will boost the contrast, bring down the highlights if there are important white areas being blown out, add a little fill light, darken the blacks a tad and the shadows a tad, and sharpen.

I gravitate toward warmer images so I usually will warm up the white balance, though not always. It's all dependent on the circumstance. I will reduce noise on dark indoor shots if necessary. That really is about all I do! Bright, clean, and natural is my goal!

I hope this little peek into my editing workflow has been helpful! And I like hearing what you all want to be reading about here on the blog, so if you have a suggestion, just let me know. :-)

Posting Your Photos Online | For Clients

I'm often contacted by clients who are asking permission to post the pictures from their session or wedding on Facebook or on their blog, etc., so I thought it might be a good idea to do a blog post about it and give some tips for sharing your pictures on social media.

First off, my clients are free to share their pictures online! I actually love it when I see them change their profile or cover photo to a photo that I took. It's a little thing but it makes me excited. :-) They're investing in getting professional photos so I'm happy that they are making use of them!

I don't set any rules for sharing, but there some tips for making them look the best they can. I don't require clients to credit me for the pictures, but I always appreciate it when they do. :-)

Below are my thoughts on posting on the two most popular photo sharing sites, Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook: Facebook is pretty straightforward, and they are always changing their photo processing so you never know if it is actually going to look good. I used to give two folders of pictures, one optimized for FB and one for print, but I found that was too confusing and FB would probably change things around and the optimized files wouldn't really be any better after all. So now, I have found it just works the best to give only one set of files for print and use online and it works out great. If you feel inclined to credit the pictures, you can link to my website and/or tag my business page.

Instagram: This one has the most tips associated with it. Of course, I prefer that you don't apply filters over the pictures, because - really, you invested a lot in your photography, and I hope you hired me because you love my style. So the pictures will look their best left as is. I'm not going to send the police after you if you decide to put a filter on it, but it just isn't an accurate representation of my work after it has effects applied to it.
And then, there's the crop factor. Everyone knows Instagram displays photos in squares and that's expected and sometimes works. But there are some images that really are a lot better if you see the whole thing. And thankfully, there's a way to do that! The best apps that I know of for posting the full image to Instagram are Squaready (for iPhone) or Instagram No Crop/InstaShot (for Android).
When crediting pictures, you can tag/mention @kathryngracephotography, and you can also use the hashtag #kathryngracephotography.

I hope that gives you a start in maximizing your photos online!

Then & Now | Personal

In the Q&A, I was asked if I could post some of my early photos, contrasted with my current work and talk about how I improved. I hope you're ready for this. :-) I'm only agreeing to this because everyone has to start somewhere, and I've been encouraged by seeing some old work of my favorite photographers and realizing, "They used to take pictures like that, and look where they are now!"

You could go back in the archives of this blog and find some pretty old work of mine, but I'm going even further back with this post. There aren't too many cringe-worthy shots on the blog; though you can go back to when I didn't really have a consistent editing style and was playing around with vintage filters, etc. I also didn't do a lot of portraits back then; I was still really into nature photography. Here I'm going back to the first time I remember taking portraits and feeling happy with them. This was in 2009, doing updated portraits for my sister (to give to grandparents, etc.). Pretty much any portraits I shot back then were of my sister. She was very patient. :-)

This shot was my "money shot" from the day. I was really proud of this. I liked the setting, the pose, and oddly enough, the light. I'm not sure why, since looking at it now half of her face is underexposed and the other half is blown out. :-)

So how did I go from that... to this?

I think the biggest thing that pushed me forward and helped me to improve was immersion in good photography. I found some photographers I liked and began to follow their work. The first photographer I followed was Jessica Shae - before that, I didn't even know there were photography blogs. :-) After a while there were several blogs I read, and then I found Katelyn James, and her style really clicked with me. She was very similar to what I was going for, but just hadn't perfected yet. So, not to say that I was totally copying other people; but I was constantly exposed to examples of good photography - good composition, white balance, and exposure, consistent editing, analyzing the light. It rubs off on you.

Beyond that, one of the best things that I ever did was to take my camera off auto and put it on manual. I read some articles that helped me to understand the basics (I have linked all those articles on this pinterest board), but mostly it was trial and error, playing with the settings until I had them to my liking. After I had played with manual for a while I tried aperture priority mode, which did work pretty well, but last year I switched back to completely manual all the time and I have not gone back.

I hope you enjoyed (not sure if that's the right word... :-) this peek into my early forays into photography! I am grateful to the Lord for blessing me in developing my skills to where they are today (and hope to keep on improving!).