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  • Writer's pictureManny

Your Camera Settings & Post-Production Edits Matter!

"Say it with me, Pre Production, Production, and Post Production. AMEN!"

Those are the three production phases that should be discussed before any multimedia project. This is what I learned from school and more than likely this is the same phase that many photographers, videographers, editors, and content creators understand. With the possibility of going viral on Tik Tok nowadays, you bet people behind the scenes have a simple or complex brainstorming template that they use to create content. Some may even have a customized template for how they want to create a series of original content which is how most of these influencers make real money. I encourage everyone to have some sort of structure for your next project by researching and utilizing all three aspects of the production phase.

One of the best advice I’ve received from plenty of mentors in my field was to know your camera. Not just have a working knowledge of your camera, but you need to KNOW YOUR CAMERA. There’s nothing more awkward when you are on a photoshoot and the client can pick up that you might not fully know what you are doing. It's even worse if a professional company is having second thoughts on hiring you if your equipment malfunctions in front of them. (Yikes).

One of the reasons why I started writing this blog post, was after a post on Twitter that really made me think about the current trends in the photography industry. Is it really smart to only rely on editing in post production? Can you fix anything and everything in post after the shoot is over? How come most photographers don’t know their correct camera settings?

Wholeheartedly, capturing both the original shot and using post-production techniques is key when finalizing a photo to publish online. Whether for your portfolio or to post and enjoy created content, these techniques matter to enhance the quality of work you are capturing. (I’ve found myself even saying on a shoot before, “Oh don’t worry about that, I can fix it in post).” With the advancement of AI software on Adobe and other programs, we don’t have to worry about “looking” perfect in order to shoot. Have you ever seen those viral BTS (behind the scenes) reels or BTS photoshoots? I think what makes those videos go viral is because some people are genuinely puzzled by what artists can create after a shoot is already completed. Assume someone watches a viral BTS reel with a completed photoshoot. To a younger audience there is no skepticism or critique, its "That's really cool, I want to do that too", compared to an adult who does not know any of the the process(es) of photography/videography they figure "Wow look at how talented that person, is I could never do that". I think the shock value creates the amazement and that something that everyone is curious about no matter what demographic you belong too.

Everyone has a different style, but you can drastically change the meaning of a photograph by the editing style used in post production. Personally, it took me a long time to learn how to edit my photos using Adobe Lightroom. Eventually I found my style of editing to my liking, (and I think my clients do so too).

Here are some examples of some of my work and my thought process to change each photo edit into something more powerful or creative.

Just Skate- Kazoni (Zone) Portrait Edits

I love these portraits not only because of the new lens I was able to capture my model with but because of how editing can make my portraits really come alive, or really realistic depending on the colors you choose. My goal for this concept shoot was to utilize my camera lens to the best of my ability while also putting together a story that makes you want to know more about the subject.

Here are three portraits of the same photo from this shoot. Can you tell the difference?

Within the last two portraits I've edited, the color tint is slightly changed, the exposure was increased and I had to do some color balancing to even out the portrait between the model and the background. I was also able to bring out more details within the models facial features by editing out any zits and to make the skin tone more saturated and balanced. The main difference between the edited portraits is really based on your preference. Do you like more vibrant colors in your portraits or more realistic colors? The final results are dramatically different than the original photo taken, and to keep it real with you I like both.

Another example of editing that I've learned is that you can really change things in post production that you would have never thought you could. I didn’t know that I was gonna change the color of the smoke from the smoke bomb we used in this shoot initially. The vibrancy of the orange really brought out the vibrancy of the photoshoot and it made the photo even better with the overall final color scheme.

Here is a side by side with the original photo.

Wedding Re-Edits - Taylor Volston

I wish I was able to go to St. Lucia to shoot my co-worker’s wedding but it just happened that another local photographer was afforded the opportunity. (There is enough for all of us to eat so I'm not mad at it.) When my co-worker came back from her honeymoon, she loved her photos but she wanted something that was more modern, and something that she and her husband could have to keep within their living room. I was tasked with fixing what sometimes is the unfixable even through post production. Overexposed, underexposed, dark shadows, and even change in skin tonal balance was what I had to fix for her wedding portraits.

Check out the before:

And after:

Keep in mind when you are editing to make sure that you remember what colors the client had in mind. It really isn’t up to the photographer to pick the best colors that we think are the best for the client. I had to remember that the groom’s suit was blue, with a blue and red color scheme. Ultimately, it’s what they want.

The original photographer had the framing and composition of the next portrait right, however I saw the reasons why the bride (my co-worker) reached out to me. From the left is the unedited photo and to the right are the edits I was able to correct.

Even though I think black and red go together for these specific shots, my goal wasn’t to change the brides original wedding photo to my liking. This was their moment and I wanted to honor it. Think about the tradeoffs before you start to editing to your own preferences. Some clients like it, others do not and it will spoil client relationships if you just start taking creative liberties without approval.

I agree that in many cases, it is much easier to fix many errors on a photoshoot in post production. However, I personally think that if you take the time to study your composition, and slow down during those moments when you are shooting, you have less work to do overall. Some of the examples above showcase exactly what I’m talking about. For my photographers out there reading this, its okay to slow down and make sure your settings are correct. (I’ve even had clients say that they didn’t notice any issues with me making sure things are in order with my camera or equipment.) (Finesse!) In reality, every creative has had experience trying to fix something that could’ve been prevented with proper preparation. My advice for those looking to strengthen their editing skills is to know what color theory is and how that plays into the way we view different colors and what they symbolize. Figure out what colors you like to use in your arsenal, and also discover colors you never thought to use in your work.


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