The Making of an Image

Photoshoots, especially editorial shoots, can require a lot of upfront creative planning and imagination; but for many shoots, the real creative heavy lifting for photographers starts after the shoot.

I thought I would take the opportunity in this post to clear up a few potentially murky issues regarding editing versus retouching and shed some light (pun intended) on some of the steps photographers take to deliver you a final captivating, polished image!

But first, a short back story on RAW image files…excited?! 

Most professional photographers shoot in what is called RAW file format. RAW files are considered to be the best form of image file, since it captures ALL that the camera sensor sees and doesn’t compress any of the information. Saving all of that information in an uncompressed file leaves total control of the editing to the photographer. Yay!

However since colours and details are not compressed like they are in jpeg files, RAW files come out of the camera looking flat and dull and so all RAW files require some degree of editing

Depending on the project, the post-production process of transforming a RAW file into a final image can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours of work per picture.  

Photo editing, retouching and photo manipulation (i.e. extensive retouching), are critical parts of photo processing and while some people ( I’m definitely guilty) use the terms “editing” and “retouching” interchangeably when they really mean very different things.  Photo manipulation too is a process onto itself.

So let’s dive a little deeper into what each process entails.


I edit every final photo that I send to a client. To be specific, I correct for lighting/exposure and colour temperature, crop the image if necessary, as well as add my own ‘signature’ touches to the images. 


When simple editing won’t do the trick, retouching begins. For me, basic retouching means up to 10-30 minutes of work on an image – removing blemishes, brightening teeth, smoothing skin, or even removing a distracting element.

Extensive Retouching or Photo Manipulation

I usually get into ‘extensive retouching’ for the standout images from a shoot I want to send to a client.  Also, when I’m shooting younger children, families and big groups I often need to manipulate images often cutting and pasting faces from different images to get a final picture where everyone is looking at the camera with flattering, happy expressions.


Extensive retouching can also means things like removing a person from an image, compositing several images together, or completely changing the background of an image.

For extensive retouching projects requested by clients and special creative pieces like double exposure portraits I will charge an additional fee to cover the extra time these images require to make happen.


So there you have it.  The three cornerstones to creating an image worthy of  framing, hanging, or posting for you and all the world to see and ultimately enjoy!



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