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To Diet with Photoshop or Not, that is the question…

whattheduck-photoshop

This issue has come up every now and then in our conversations with clients. It usually goes like this…

“My arms are huge. I want to hide it… or maybe you can Photoshop it smaller after our shoot…”
“Can you make my face look less round with Photoshop?”
“I don’t like my tummy. It’s very easy to Photoshop, right?”

(Random info: By the way, Photoshop shouldn’t be used as a verb, meaning, all those ways of describing Photoshop at the top is not the correct usage of the word. Read more here)

So, back to our conversation. While I understand that not everyone loves EVERY part of themselves equally (hey, I have a tummy too, after two kids!) and hope their photographer is a magician, I think editing an image too much in Photoshop is a distortion of reality. We would much rather use the right choice of angles & lenses, lighting and cropping to make you appear slimmer, rather than relying on Photoshop to solve all these ‘problems’. Naturally, in an event like a wedding where everything moves so quickly, it’s not possible to make sure every angle is a ‘perfect’ one for you. (By the way, we did have a request once by a bride to only shoot her from the right side during the entire wedding. Uhm… not possible!?)

We usually edit our images to enhance the colour and contrast, and when we create an album, we work on making skin a bit more flawless (but not plastic fake). So if a request such as the above comes to us, we will work on it for the album or print, but it will be done minimally and realistically. We really do not believe in creating a false representation of someone through editing.

After all, what kind of satisfaction would it get if you looked at your photos and saw ‘perfection’ but when you look in the mirror, you feel sad and upset?

BOUDOIRInterestingly, I wrote this post some time ago but hesitated to share it, until I read another photographer’s post that came out recently about a similar topic. Victoria Caroline who photographs boudoirs wrote in her Facebook post:

“Hi Victoria,
I am (blank)’s husband, ********. I am writing to you because I recently received an album containing images you took of my wife. I don’t want you to think that I am in any way upset with you….but I have some food for thought that I would like to pass on to you. I have been with my wife since we were 18 years old, and we have two beautiful children together. We have had many ups and downs over the years, and I think…well, actually I KNOW that my wife did these pictures for me to “spice things up”. She sometimes complains that I must not find her attractive, that she wouldn’t blame me if I ever found someone younger. When I opened the album that she gave to me, my heart sank. These pictures…while they are beautiful and you are clearly a very talented photographer….they are not my wife. You made every one of her “flaws” disappear…and while I’m sure this is exactly what she asked you to do, it took away everything that makes up our life. When you took away her stretch marks, you took away the documentation of my children. When you took away her wrinkles, you took away over two decades of our laughter, and our worries. When you took away her cellulite, you took away her love of baking and all the goodies we have eaten over the years. I am not telling you all of this to make you feel horrible, you’re just doing your job and I get that. I am actually writing you to thank you. Seeing these images made me realize that I honestly do not tell my wife enough how much I LOVE her and adore her just as she is. She hears it so seldom, that she actually thought these photoshopped images are what I wanted and needed her to look like. I have to do better, and for the rest of my days I am going to celebrate her in all her imperfectness. Thanks for the reminder.

Regards”

It was a real reminder to her about altering the reality of life through her images.

I believe everyone is beautiful, and confidence comes from how you carry yourself in front of the camera. Practice looking at yourself in the mirror daily, and reminding yourself of the traits that make you a beautiful person on the inside. Even if you started with hesitation, I guarantee, over time, your face will naturally glow from this confidence.

And then, trust your photographer to create the best possible portrait of you, that is true to yourself.

The Magic Behind the Images

When I first ventured into the photography business 3 years ago, I was a do-it-all-myself person. I did everything from the marketing, shooting, photo editing, album design, to delivery (courier service). Though I had fun multi-tasking (I loved juggling the different roles), it was really taxing and after some time, I found I could not cope. My days grew longer and eye bags larger. Work hours started at 9am and ended about midnight on most days.

It came to a point in my life when I decided that I needed to hire somebody to help with the workflow. It wasn’t an easy decision to make because that meant I had to give up a bit of control and train someone else to see things the way I do. After all, editing images can be quite personal… hours spent meticulously poring over each image… “you mean you don’t notice there’s a tinge of green on that face?

But giving up control and hiring a Digital Artist was one of the best decisions I made for the business.

Years have gone by and different people have come through our doors (you guys know who you are, thank you for all your contributions!)… but right now, I’d like to introduce you to Weiming.

One of the greatest pillars supporting the Stories team is the magic touch from our Digital Artist, Weiming. Almost every wedding image that you see on this website (the past 8 months) has gone through his critical eye.

After every wedding, I go through the images and select the final collection that would be passed on to Weiming. He would begin by editing the colours to make it pop and balancing exposure between the different shots taken by various cameras. As some of you know, Mark and I are Canon shooters and Johan is a Nikon user (on the verge of switching, maybe? He bought some Canon gear recently). If you have spent hours looking at photos taken by these two brands, you’ll know that the colours can NEVER match completely.

And to that, I take my hat off to Weiming. He spends countless hours editing these images. No, wait, let me correct myself… days! On average we spend about three to four 8 hour days editing a 10 hour wedding!

Shooting in raw helps a lot with the editing, but still, the sheer number of hours we spend on each wedding is incredible. We don’t even do things like arm size or tummy reduction, skin retouching… those are specific image enhancements which are chargeable and only a few ask for it.

If we didn’t have Weiming on the team working so tirelessly on each image, our backlog would be super duper crazy. Currently, we target to deliver the full set of wedding images within 1-1.5 months of the wedding date. After the delivery of the DVD, we’ll proceed to design the album layout. And then the client needs to approve the images in the layout, then the album will be sent for printing, and finally delivered. Phew…

I hope this post helps you to understand the process we go through after each wedding. A photographer’s job doesn’t end the moment the guests say goodbye after the dinner reception. In fact, only 50% of the work has been done by then.

By the way, Weiming is also multi-talented – he is a photographer, a drummer, a kick-ass futsal player! Thank you, Weiming for doing such an excellent job! You are important to the Stories team!

Image on the left before post processing (directly from camera), image on the right after post processing.