Editing Styles: One image. Five ways.
In professional photography, composing and shooting the photo is only part of the final product. The way that a photographer edits their images can dramatically change the outcome of your final photos. From brightness to color balance to contrast, all photographers edit a little differently. Although you may not know it, their editing style is probably a huge part of why you love the photographers you love. In this experiment, I took a photo of my children and handed the unedited image off to 5 photographers across the country with different editing styles. Scroll down to see how they each transformed the image and a little explanation of how and why they edit the way that they do.
The Original & The Edits
Below, you'll see a compilation of the un-edited image and the finished images from our 5 photographers. Scroll down to find details about each photographer and their editing process.
Anna Brace Photography (Iowa)
“When editing, my biggest goal is to retain or get as close to the original color tones as possible - while adding a dreamy aspect to it. I try to get the exposure as close to what it looked like in person, neither too bright or too dark. Getting the skin tone to look natural is super important for me, as that is typically the focal point of photos. All in all, I like my photos to be dreamy, true to color, and natural.” -Anna Brace
Anna Brace is a wedding, senior, and maternity photographer in western Iowa. You can find her website HERE.
Bark & Gold Photography
“As a pet photographer, my editing style is true to life, natural, and warm. I tend to increase exposure and lean toward a slightly warmer white balance as I feel that look lends itself well to the natural, connected, and expressive portraits that I can capture of my clients.
I started this edit in Lightroom, beginning with cropping slightly. I adjusted the white balance and pulled the exposure down slightly before decreasing highlights and blacks and increasing shadows and whites. I followed that up with a touch of dehaze. From there, I reduced the green saturation, added a hint of yellow within the green hue shift, and pulled down the green luminance and the yellow luminance. From there, I did some color range work in the grass in terms of exposure, color temperature, and color tint. To pull the focus toward the children, I added a subtle post-crop vignette. I also wanted to warm up that orange and really enhance that golden hour glow, so I added a radial filter with a dehaze adjustment, color temperature adjustment, color tint adjustment, and highlights adjustment.
After Lightroom, I took this image into Photoshop where I cleaned up flyaways and added a pop of shine to their hair; I also enhanced the little girl's beautiful lashes. I brightened up their faces using a pop of fill flash and then moved on to smoothing their skin for a milky softness. I reduced the orange, red, and yellow tones in their skin as well. To finish off the edit, I created a shallow depth of field near the bottom of the frame and then ran an action that pops the subject.” -Jessica from Bark & Gold Photography
Jessica Wasik (Bark & Gold Photography) is a pet photographer located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You can find her website HERE.
Christian Michelle Photography (Tennessee)
“I struggle with defining my style because I feel like there isn't one style that fully encompasses everything I love but if I had to pick one, I'd say bold and moody. I definitely prefer a darker look to my photos and I think it is so that my subjects can really pop. I use lots of masks to bring out the parts of the photo I really want to emphasize and craft each image so that the eye is drawn exactly where I want it. I love making my subjects stand out and be the real focal point of the photo. I'd like to say I lean more towards the fine art side but imposter syndrome definitely gets the best of me sometimes! I currently edit mostly in Lightroom but bring the image into Photoshop to finish it with a few additional actions.” -Christian
Christian Michelle Photography is located in Chatanooga, TN and shoots high school seniors, families, newborns, maternity, and other portraits. You can find her website HERE.
Apollo & Ivy Photography (Iowa)
"My editing is designed around sunlight, particularly that beautiful golden hour light just like what's in this image! I like deep greens, golden yellows, and skin tones and clothing colors that are true-to-life. I like to increase contrast (contrast just makes a photo) and decrease clarity and texture, giving the images a dreamy-creamy feel, which is enhanced by that hazy sunlight." -Lydia from Apollo & Ivy Photography
Lydia (Apollo & Ivy Photography) is located in eastern Iowa and shoots high school seniors,
families, and newborns. You can find here website HERE.
Looking Glass Studio (Illinois)
"When I'm editing images, my goal is to create a piece of artwork, something that people can't just create with their phone. I aim to make a piece of artwork that draws emotion. While I look to create a story with my images, I work to make sure the focus remains on the subject and that the other elements are just little pieces to the story. I brought the image into Photoshop through Adobe Raw, where I tweaked the white balance and contrast of the overall image, as well as the brightness of the subjects. Once I had the image in photoshop, I ran a few actions. The first one creates a light vignette to help bring focus onto the subject. I used an action to adjust the saturation to bring out the skin tones and another to minimize red splotches on the skin. I ran another action to bring out a cooler tone in the greens. I did some dodging and burning on the highlights and shadows to give it more of a painterly/fine art feel. Lastly I adjusted the curves to create a matte look to it."
-Deirdre from Looking Glass Studio
Deirdre (Looking Glass Studio) is located in western Illinois and shoots high school seniors, families, branding, and other portraits. You can find her website HERE.