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Like my husband, Christmas has been and gone again, so it’s time to get back to work by reflecting on a project that caused a huge amount of worry, but was ultimately a great success.

Shirley received her gift amidst much wonder, excitement, and yes, tears. Mission accomplished! So for my first post of the new year, I’m giving you a little sample of some of the editing work done to a handful of the original 1355 images.

The main reason I’m posting these images isn’t to lambast this particular photographer, but to show the sort of work that professionals can do in order to make your photos better. It’s this sort of editing work (along with technical prowess that allows them to take great photos in the first place) that is the reason you should hire a pro.

It’s also important to note that a lot of the editing done here wouldn’t be of any use to a client whose only interest was buying a disc of images. In this project, I could crop the images in whatever way was needed to bring out the best in the image because I knew that they were going to be used in a (spectacular) digital album. Had it not been for that fact, there would have been very little I could have done for this couple because many of the images didn’t stay in the standard print ratios.

Food for thought for those readers who are desperate for a disc: what do you want to prioritise – saving money by printing them yourself or spending the money it takes to get truly stunning results (that can’t necessarily be accomplished through individual prints)?

On with the show…

This one made me chuckle when I saw it. Look at the lights - one is on, one is off. A photographic oversight, for sure, but I suppose it could happen to anyone... At any rate, the error meant that the image needed to be cropped pretty tight to the bed frame. You'll notice that my editing skills don't stretch as far as eliminating the reflection of the light off the headboard, but I think that the cropping was an improvement.

I think the photographer had a really nice idea with this shot and, with a little colour editing to liven things up and some cropping to get rid of distractions, this turned into quite a nice image.

This photo should show a special moment between a father and his only daughter. Instead, this blurry, crooked, badly coloured photo made you want to skip past it because it was so disappointing. There isn't much that I can do to fully rescue the blurriness, but with some straightening, sharpening and colour correction, the photo went from being unusable to a highlight of the ceremony page in the album.

It's possibly the most important shot of the ceremony and it's.... blurry and crooked. And the only shot. So, while there's nothing we can do about the minister's head adding height to Carl's noggin, some sharpening followed by a bit of selective softening helps to exaggerate the blur and make it look more intentional than accidental.

White balance saves lives! Yes, this was a November wedding, but that's no reason for the ushers to look like they've got hypothermia. Again, a poor choice in white balance that wasn't difficult to correct and it resulted in a healthier-looking groomsman.

It didn't take much to get this picture from being 'okay' to 'ooh'. A little tinkering with the colours and... voila.

I enjoyed the idea behind this shot, but the execution was clearly difficult. To give credit where it's due, the photographer had mashed herself up against a tree to get as close to a good angle as she could, but we don't really need to have the trunk in the foreground or that metal post in the background. There are some nice colours and it looks like a tender moment, so I brightened things up a little and added some softening. This picture was originally a candidate for a front cover that required a long narrow shot, but ended up being used as an image that ran down the edge of one page. Striking.

Oh boy. Where do you start on this one - with the fact that it's crooked? how about with the door frame? or maybe with the sign? I'm not going to bother talking about the pose. Anyway, the distractions were easily cloned out and some softening was applied to make this a gentle looking - if slightly awkwardly posed - shot of father and daughter.

This family photo was the cause of great concern. The colours are awful because of poor choice in white balance settings; the stroller in the background was a random distraction; the image was blurred slightly; and it was the only usable shot of this family group so it HAD to be fixed. Again, colour corrections were done and we ended up with an improved image that got used twice - once as a full family shot and again after cropping as a shot of the bride, groom and parents.

I give kudos to the photographer for taking this shot. Yes, the bridge isn't fully painted and that's a little annoying, but there are several other redeeming features about it that made the photo a perfect shot to use as the final 10"x20" double-page spread in the album. The trees behind Shirley and Carl were naturally paler than in other parts of the photo, which helped to exaggerate a soft spotlighting filter; the greenery from the willow on the right made for an interesting foreground border on one side. After some richness was added, some softening applied and the photo was cropped, this was a real crowd pleaser.

I haven’t done this post to brag about my skills; I’m not proclaiming myself to be some editing wunderkind. In fact, there is a TON of stuff I don’t know how to do and I learn lots of new things every time I open Photoshop. However, my main priority is to take photos and make them look just like you, only better. Not plastic, not completely flawless, not overly edited, just… beautiful.

This post was done to show you what can happen when you get a photographer who gives out discs of unedited photos and leaves you to do the rest. Do you have the time to pare down a full day’s shooting and then edit the results? Probably not.