Behind the Lens | Before and After (and a Look at Editing Styles)

I posted  a little preview from yesterday evening’s styled shoot on the Raw Footage Photography Facebook Page last night, and was so delighted with the response! Lots of “likes” for this little darling, and I’m not one bit surprised. My little subject is stunning! I thought I would use this photo for a “before and after” look at my editing process, which I talked a bit about in the last edition of Behind the Lens .

There are so many editing trends out there, and every photographer really has their own editing style. No two photographers will treat the same image the same way, so when choosing someone to capture your special moments, you want to make sure you “click” with not only their shooting style, but their editing style as well.

As for my editing style, I’d describe it as being simple, fresh and pure. I like to add a bit of a personal touch to my photos, but I’m all about capturing real life, and I want my editing to convey that. I am always striving to make my “SOOC” (straight-out-of-camera) shots the best they can be, so that I am only enhancing, and not fixing, in post-processing. I am also continuously seeking out delicious, natural light that doesn’t need dramatic editing to create a dreamy mood. The less I have to edit my SOOC shot to achieve my vision, the happier I am.

I do have a handful of photoshop actions I enjoy (for those who may not be familiar these, they are a series of steps in photoshop that a photographer has “packaged” together into one simple click, allowing you to achieve a certain look by running any photo through the action in question. You can make your own, or you can purchase actions from amazing photographers around the world. You can run them at high opacity for a very dramatic effect, or at low opacity for just a subtle pop, which is what I do).

Here’s a look at the before and after versions of the same photo, with a look at my editing process.

1. I did basic RAW edits in Aperture (I may be one of the few photographers that isn’t using Lightroom or ACR. Not a preference, I just don’t own the programs, and Aperture works for me!). This includes sharpening and a bit of minor tweaking of white balance and levels.

2. I exported the photo to Photoshop and tweaked the levels a bit more. I then used the “dodge” tool to brighten up the eyes a bit.

3. I ran the “bright eyes” action from Coffee Shop Blog at low opacity (25%) just to define the eyes a bit more, without making them look alien sharp. (the Coffee Shop Blog actions are FREE and great to start out with – it’s where I first started playing with actions, and I still hang on to a couple of my favourites from her set).

4. I ran the “velvet peach” action from Coffee Shop Blog (again, FREE) at low opacity (20%). This one can be intense when you run it at anything more than 30%. I use it at low opacity when I want to add subtle, soft pink tones.

5. I ran the “lighter tones” action from Jordan Voth’s set and customized each layer to my liking.

6. I resized and sharpened for web, and added my watermark.

This is my process. My vision for this photo. My artistic style. 

I really wanted to illustrate how a photographer’s editing style is a huge part of their art and final product, and that while not everyone’s post processing may be your cup of tea, there is beauty in everyone’s unique vision. So I rounded up some of my photographer friends (ahhh, gotta love the internet!) from all over to put their personal spin on this photo. I sent them the RAW, straight-out-of-camera file and told them to edit it in their own style. These are women with whom I regularly share and receive constructive criticism, advice and encouragement, and photographers that I respect and admire immensely. I was so honoured that they took the time to help me with this little project, and so excited to see their take on my photo. Each edit below is so different, and really represents the photographer’s style.

Go show these amazing photographers some love! 1. Angel Murphy Photography (facebook) 2. / 5. Amanda Laurette Photography (facebook) 3. (me) Raw Footage Photography (facebook)  4. Amber Snead Photography (facebook) 6. Leeshy Lou Photography (facebook) 7. /8. Nicky Montgomery Photography (facebook)

I love how photography is such a process. It starts with a vision, turns into a photograph, and ends up as a work of art that is as unique as each photographer!

London Ontario Portrait Photography | Megan

I’ve known Megan for several years now. I first met her when I worked in childcare and had the pleasure of getting to know her two handsome boys. We then discovered we had a mutual friend and started finding ourselves at the same social events. When I started my photography business (and even before then), she was one of my first supporters, and when I had my baby, she was at my door with gifts, encouragement and the most delicious pulled pork (mmm… I can still taste it!). She has always believed in me and my photography, and I truly value her as a friend and as a role model.

When she asked me to take some individual portraits of her to surprise her husband with on their 15th anniversary, I was thrilled – partially because Megan is gorgeous, and partially because this is something a bit different for me.  For this busy mother of two, it was a rare treat to be in front of the camera for once – and I think we can all agree that she should be in front of the camera as much as possible!

Most of the photos from this session are top secret and reserved for Megan’s hubby, but she has chosen a selection of photos to share here, and I can’t wait to show you a glimpse into our lovely wilderness portrait session!


Behind The Lens | Behind the Scenes

There is a common misconception out there that all it takes to be a photographer is a fancy camera. With this in mind, some folks might scratch their heads and wonder why a typical photography session doesn’t go for $25. I mean, you have the camera. You “click” a few dozen (or hundred) times, slap those photos on a blank cd and hand it over to your client… right? Easy.

Except… that’s not exactly how it works. I thought I’d give clients a little “behind the scenes” look at all of the steps involved in a photography session, to help them better understand what exactly they’re getting when they invest in a session with me.

First, let me start by thanking you for even considering making this investment. I promise you’ll never regret capturing precious moments and milestones as your family evolves and grows. Your children (and their children) will treasure these photos forever. I know that paying for professional photography is, for many, an unjustifiable extra in a tight budget. I totally understand. While we’ve made every effort to capture every important step of our growing family’s journey, there have been times where my budget has had the final word. I understand the feeling of having to save up for a photography session, and the high expectations that come with that kind of anticipation. Let me assure you that when you decide the timing is right to invest in professional photography, I will not take this honour and responsibility lightly. I always do my best to give my clients 100% of my attention, talent, creativity, discipline and understanding. From start to finish, I do my best to make your investment worth every penny and more.

Here’s a peek into what that start to finish looks like for me.

Before the Session

Most bookings start out with an initial email inquiry, sometimes a phone call. Prospective clients share their needs and questions, and I share details about my packages, style and pricing. Sometimes, sadly, the conversation ends here. And that’s ok. But often, the discussion continues as we discuss dates and times and ideas and locations. I also offer a free consultation for clients that might want to meet me in person, and coffee is always on me. If a client wants a specific type of location for a session, I often will go location scouting before their session to find that perfect spot that totally fits with their vision. I provide clients with a welcome package that helps them prepare for their session with tips on what to wear and what to expect.

The Day of the Session

The day of the session, I pack up any props we might need (for example, a vintage chair, an old quilt, or a vintage crate), put some gas in my car and head to our location. I take care of any setup if required and anxiously wait for my beautiful clients to arrive. I assess the location and the light and position clients and adjust my camera settings accordingly. I do my best to make clients feel comfortable and try to strike up conversation to get to know each other as we begin our session, all while keeping an eye on changing light, camera settings, making sure poses are flattering and ensuring that we get all the “must have” shots that clients may have requested, while allowing some natural interactions to be shared and captured as well. If children are being photographed, there’s usually some singing, funny noises, silly faces and running around involved on my part. And lots of patience… and laughs.

After the Session

I upload and back up the photos from our session and get to editing, which happens in phases. Every photographer has their own editing workflow. Here’s what mine looks like.

Before i start my whole process, I go through all of the photos and pick one or two to edit first and post these as sneak peeks on the Raw Footage Facebook Page, so that clients have a glimpse at their session no later than 48hours later. I cull photos and eliminate test shots, duplicates, and shots that involve blinking, awkward expressions, etc. Once the “keepers” have been narrowed down, I go through each photo one by one and do my basic RAW edits. This includes tweaking white balance, sharpening, and exposure correction if needed. I strongly believe that a good photo happens in camera, not in photoshop, so I am always striving to make my SOOC (straight-out-of-camera) shots as close to perfect as can be, so that this stage is as seamless and quick as possible. That said, depending on the amount of photos, this can still be fairly time consuming. I then export the edited “keepers” to photoshop and place what I like to call my “editing stamp” on them. While I like a natural, real looking photo and am not a fan of extreme, dramatic edits, I do add my personal touch to each and every photo. I also take the time to remove any pimples or scratches, or anything else a client may have requested. A bit of skin smoothing and eye enhancing sometimes occurs, as well as black and white edits. This is more time consuming, and depending on what needs to happen, each photo can take between 3 and 20 minutes to complete. I save the high res jpeg file for clients to print, and duplicate each file to make a matching web file. This involves sizing, sharpening and watermarking for online sharing. Each version of every photo gets renamed and saved in the client’s folder. A sneak peek album gets posted on the Raw Footage Facebook Fan Page containing a small sampling of photos for clients to share with family and friends to give them a taste of their session. Files get burned to a DVD, which is then packaged in a DIY case complete with yarn embellishments. I let clients know their disc is ready and give them the option of picking up their package or having it mailed. I then like to reflect on each session by blogging about the experience and sharing a larger sampling of photos on the Raw Footage Blog.

Other Stuff

In addition to what’s highlighted above, I am always working to improve my skills and services by working with a mentor, reading blogs and articles written for photographers that touch on topics such as shooting tips, tricks of the trade, improving the client experience and editing techniques. I am always looking for new photography books to read, asking lots of questions, and trying new things. I regularly schedule  mini sessions on my own time specifically to practice new techniques or perfect things I may struggle with. I network with other photographers around the world and am part of a group of talented photographers that regularly critique my work and push me to improve and try new things. I participate in photo contests on a regular basis to keep challenging myself and keep the Raw Footage Facebook and Twitter accounts active to engage fans.

In short, there’s a lot that goes into my work as a photographer, and I am always trying to be the best that I can be. The time, effort and passion that goes into each session far exceeds what clients see in their 1 1/2 hour session. But my sincere hope is that, even though much of my work happens behind the scenes, every client I work with feels valued and taken care of.

I love every part of my work, from the initial coffee date to the joys of the actual session, to the satisfaction of editing images that makes my heart sing. When you choose to invest in a photography session with Raw Footage Photography, you’re not just investing in photos, but you’re investing in me. And I cannot begin to express how humbled and overjoyed I am every time a client chooses me to capture their special moments. It’s a good feeling, and a huge honour that I do not take lightly.

Thank you a million times over! :)


London Ontario Lifestyle Photography | Neve at Home (personal)

I’m back after a bit of a blogging break with lots of photos and thoughts to share! To start, I’m so excited about sharing these personal photos with you, taken during an impromptu lifestyle session with my 13 month old daughter, Neve.  The last time I did a session of this nature with her, she was a lot younger, it was a different season, and her morning routine was a lot different. It’s so fun to look at the differences and similarities between both sessions and see how my girl has grown. She still loves her morning playtime and stories though, and it’s fun to see that her interests and personality are growing with her.

I followed her around for about an hour and tried to capture the essence of a morning with Neve, at 13 months old. These photos make me so incredibly happy – as a photographer, yes – but mostly as a mama. :)