After the shot : A lesson in post processing

Joe Pyle Photography

Joe and Kari Pyle : Estes Park, Colorado



I’m not really one to think that educating brides on post processing is important. After all, the galleries online from all of us photographers are really what we want you to see. What I do think is that brides and people in general may be a bit naive when it comes to the final product. For instance, some of the images that you see in the galleries on our front page have taken nearly forty-five minutes to edit. Of course that is not the norm. On average, most only take about ten minutes. The point is that when you have us shooting with you for six hours and we finish with around three thousand images, we are only about a fourth of the way finished with your wedding. The editing process that follows is the real work, and we do it all ourselves. (Edit: this is usually done in pajamas, sipping espresso, and rocking out to the latest alt rock)


At different times, Kari and I both go through all of the images to pick the ones we love and that express the day the best. The next step is to get the total number down to about five hundred good images. (If you’re reading this as one of our past brides, you know that this “five hundred” number is arbitrary. We generally deliver more.) This is the hardest part for us because we need to look at the section of photos from a scene and pick the ones that are the best. “Sacrificing the good for the best” kind of thing. While we are doing this, we are tagging our very favorites.


The “faves” are ones that we want to take special time to work on because of emotion, expression, color, tones, and scenery. There are only between fifty and a hundred of these that we spend a lot of time on. The others we also work on, but not with the diligence that these require. All of the images that you see on our site, blog, Instagram, and Facebook are these. This is the “A list” of photos-ones that we would show anyone, anywhere, and be incredibly proud. The “B list” photos are also really beautiful, well edited photos. They have just not been edited to the fullest degree, mostly because they didn’t require much more than a quick edit.


I should back up a bit here. This process isn’t something we’ve always done. In the past, our go to way of editing was similar, but now we have Photoshop in our corner. This program is new to us, really. Lightroom has been our way of editing up until a little while ago. I recently took an online course to better understand Photoshop because it’s a big, powerful program that has scared me in the past. Knowing the basics in this program has helped me to create images like the ones below. As you can see from the before and after, it’s really a good way to draw out color and mood in each shot. More after the images…





These were all edited in Photoshop, each one taking about twenty to forty minutes from start to finish. When possible, we’ll bring out colors that work well together. Sometimes we’ll change the colors completely, as in the shot from Cancun with Paulina and Jeremy behind the stone wall. I felt that the cement needed some color so I made it blue to compliment the orange and green of the small scene in the squares. While some feel this “heavily edited” process is too much, I feel different. This brings me to my next point…


Is post processing a photo to look different good or bad?


It depends on a lot. Are you hiring someone for their ability to hold a camera and point it in the right direction at the right time, or are you hiring someone because you’ve seen their work online and want similar images for your day. It comes down to what you think you’re getting in the end. If you just want someone to hold a camera, you may be better served (and save a lot of cash!) by just telling your uncle or an amatuer friend to shoot your day. As I said above, we work on our photos a lot. We feel that the resulting images tell a better story than the initial ones and we’re not afraid to make drastic changes to them to make it happen. I think you’ll find that most photographers today (I should be clear here: “most photographers worth their salt”) work on their images in a similar manner, or at least have a similar process. 


We want to work for people who want us and our style of images.


I’ve said this a lot in previous posts and on social media, but it’s true. Please look over our work and other’s work and make a good decision. Honestly, we charge a lot of money for our photography and if you are not hiring us because of our work you’ve seen and our personalities, you may be making a mistake.


The days of shooting and delivering without post processing are gone.


Did I really just say that? Yes. Those days are gone. Some photographers have a process that makes their images look unedited, and that’s great too. A lot of ours do too and sometimes that’s the goal.

Think about it this way. What do you do when you take a photo with your phone camera before you send it to Instagram? The process goes like this: 

  1. take picture
  2. look at phone
  3. decide if it’s good
  4. retake several times
  5. edit
  6. retake several more times
  7. edit
  8. re-edit (then sometimes retake the picture)
  9. send
  10. apologize in comments for bad picture

What you’ve done is basically what we do with each picture only on a much larger scale (except for the apology). We have had many people ask us to give them the raw images so they can edit them themselves and we always say no. Absolutely no. Our “work” is not taking the picture, it’s all of the processes after that that really matter. 


To wrap up, I think it’s important to understand that photographers today are editing their photos, heavily. It’s reality and it’s not going anywhere. Here at Joe Pyle Photography, we will continue to work on our pictures and make them more beautiful. Thanks for tuning in…

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