One of the most disregarded aspects of professional wedding photography is the role of image enhancement. The importance of good enhancement and post processing cannot be overstated, yet almost no one thinks about it at all.
There’s an all too common misconception that the photographer clicks the shutter release and the photo is done. How good it is thus depends on the photographer’s “eye” and the quality of his or her equipment. While these are important parts of the final equation, they are only the beginning.
Cameras do not see the way we do. Even photos that look good straight from the camera can benefit from skilled enhancement. Abandoning an image after it’s captured prevents it from reaching its full potential. To create the final product, the photographer must put as much skill in image enhancement and selection as in the original image capture.
The photo on the left looks pretty decent right out of the camera. It looks about like what a camera captures, a little flat, decently exposed for the subject without washing out the background. Most importantly, it’s a nice moment. The majority of couples would find that photo perfectly acceptable if seen by itself.
However, notice how the photo on the right really comes alive. It’s the same photo, but with the benefit of careful enhancement.
I cropped in as Scott’s hanging hand does nothing to further the story and I gave it just a touch of tilt for some drama. Adding a touch of diagonal leads the eye. I manually “painted” both Scott and Kelsey’s faces and her shoulder a bit brighter while manually darkening the background a bit. The eye is drawn to the brighter areas, and thus their faces. Notice how, when allowed to completely relax, the eye takes in the whole photo on the left while on the right it zeros in on their kiss.
It takes some thought to read a photo and decide how to bring out its potential. There’s no AUTO button for that!
A cheap weekend shooter probably won’t do ANY enhancement, a medium priced photographer will likely do a medium level of enhancement, and an upper-end photographer will devote a good deal of time and skill to making your photos look their very best.
Most couples really don’t care what goes into the final product, and that’s perfectly okay. But all couples should at least understand the importance of enhancement when selecting a photographer. Also, it’s important to understand that the quality of the final product is the result of a great deal of additional time and skill applied to the photos after the wedding day. This additional time and skill is, by it’s very nature, reflected in the price.