Cast your mind back to pre digital photography.. I know it seems crazy, but its actually not that long ago – digital only superseded film cameras on a large scale in the 2000’s! So pre digital, we all took a roll of film out of our camera, regardless of it being a point & shoot or professional camera and gave it to a retail or professional print expert to ‘process/develop the roll of film’. While some may think this was simply the printing process, it was actually a very important part of determining the quality and delivery of the final printed photo. Whether it ran through a mini-lab machine or was developed in a darkroom, an expert decided how much colour, contrast, highlight/shadow detail, sharpness etc. was to be applied to your printed photo. Some will say this is where the magic took place..
Nowadays, sadly, we tend not to print as many photos and simply view them on digital screens, however the same rules apply.
It doesn’t matter how much you spend on your camera, fundamentally they are a mechanical device that record light & colour and see light as ‘Highlights and Shadows’.. Sadly they are not even very good at doing this and only make up about 40% of what you see as the final photo. The other 60% is created in Post Production Processing. The difference is the expert is now your photographer and our development ‘darkroom’ is also digital, typically known as Photoshop! To be fair, some cameras are better at it than others, in certain situations and we’ll all have experienced taking a cracking photo on our phone camera, however typically its outside on a sunny day where there is lots of light and colour!
The post production process is where we decide how much colour, contrast, highlight & shadow detail and sharpness etc. will be applied to each individual photo to deliver the best quality image. Anyone can ‘click a button’, but understanding the best settings to use before clicking that button and how best to use the information captured is the key.
The post production process does take time and the more photos you take the longer the process takes, but it is a fundamental part of the process of delivering high quality modern day digital images. By the way, this is not ‘retouching’ where a digital image is altered, that comes next!
Here’s an example of before and after ‘processing’
You often hear the term ‘ can you please Photoshop Me’, especially when photographing a clients portrait. Retouching in Photoshop is where you fundamentally alter a digital image. For example replacing eyes from another image that may be closed, smoothing out skin, replacing objects in an image, changing the colour of an item, sliming a persons features etc. This is an additional part of the process that is charged separately.