Is There Such a Thing…

… as too much editing? Um. YES. But where do you draw the line?

The boy and I had a discussion on it this morning. He’s thinking about doing a series of running portraits with one of his clients. Said client had recently decided he wants to be a photographer, too. (Hooray for more creativity in the world! Boo for our biggest client making us obsolete!) In his quest to become the next great photog, he’s going through phases.

His current phase is to over edit EVERYTHING. Even when it’s not needed. Even when they’re just snapshots. Every photo he takes goes through Photoshop.

This one’s not too bad, but it wasn’t needed. Edited on the right. *

You remember those mini photo-studios everyone went to in high school? You and your bestie could get 40 photos for $20 or some such nonsense? You had a choice at those studios … a normal background and straight photo, or a “cool” background and really harsh “high-key” processing. 90% of the time, people wanted to look cool. Oh, and of course they’d add “electricity” and other ridiculous graphics for you if you wanted. That’s what this photog is doing right now.

I’ll be the first to tell you … this guy has a FANTASTIC eye. But he’s making the newbie mistake of calling his EDITING style his SHOOTING style. And when it doesn’t look highly edited right out of the camera, he’s disappointed and shops it with the subtlety of a machete. He’ll get there. But he’s not there yet.

It’s totally possible to do what he wants straight out of camera. Take for example this un-edited shot:

Paul Brecht is a GENIUS. This is one of my all time favorite photos. **

Straight out of the camera. No editing other than a layer with the humongous watermark (for web images only, of course). So yes … he’ll get there someday. But not today.

So all this talk about the photog friend got me to thinking … I know a LOT of photogs who bash on editing heavily. Hell, I bash on it sometimes. But sometimes, I can’t deny the allure of it. And sometimes, it’s beneficial. Here are some of our wedding shots: raw on the left, edited on the right:


The first one isn’t heavy on the editing, but you can definitely see the difference. The second adds ambiance, but I like it without the color wash just as much, if not more. But that third one? Heavy HEAVY editing. And the “ooh that’s pretty” photo became a stunner.

So, where’s the line? Where do you draw it, in the photos of you, and in the photos you take?

Because now I’m just confusing myself.


* Yep, that’s the husband. No, he doesn’t actually shoot while  biting his lip … he was goofing off.

** Have I changed much in 3 years? ::winks::

*** No, you’re not alone. The fact that those images don’t line up symmetrically is KILLING me, too.

4 Comments to “Is There Such a Thing…”

  1. This is where I fall…if editing distracts from the photo, leave it alone, or pull back. You shouldn’t notice the editing, you should be focused on the image.

    I guess it’s like makeup that way. Nobody likes caked on makeup. You just want to enhance the features you already have and cover up the little imperfections.

    • I think I agree. A color filter is one thing, but otherwise you shouldn’t notice it.

      As for makeup, any time I’m doing someone’s makeup I slip in the words “You use makeup to enhance, not change or hide. You want people to notice you, not your awesome makeup job.”

      And thanks!

  2. Oh, and I love these shots of you! You are always so gorgeous!

  3. I kind of feel like this a personal thing, but I prefer pictures to be edited only to return the color to the way they looked in real life. I don’t like filters or heavy contrasting.

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