Susan Dixon Photography » Jacksonville wedding & portrait photographer

Before and After | Woodland Portrait

I want to share something with you that I don’t normally talk about: the importance of editing photographic images. This before and after shot is evidence that editing is critical to a good portrait.

While location, posing, wardrobe, and lighting are very, very important… is post-processing!

Take a look at the same image I shot of my daughter, Gracie, BEFORE and AFTER editing:

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My Equipment

I shot all of the images from this session with a Canon 5D Mark iii camera and a Canon 70-200mm 2.8 lens.

While the 70-200 mm is NOT a traditional portrait lens, I love the compression and bokeh it produced during this woodland session.

My Editing Program

For portrait sessions, I almost always use Adobe Photoshop. I do use Lightroom for weddings and other large volumes of work, but Photoshop is definitely my favorite! I feel like it gives me many more options than I have when using Lightroom.

For an amateur, I recommend Photoshop Elements. It’s the little sister of Adobe Photoshop.


My Editing Process

In my opinion, the original image above was on the light side. Gracie’s lace dress has a lot of lovely detail in it, and the original image does not do it justice at all! In addition, Gracie’s facial features are too bright and nondescript in the image as it was shot.

I cropped the image slightly, but not much.

I needed to adjust the color and tone of the original image just a bit.

I also used curves and levels to add emphasis to Gracie’s face and eyes. I also used curves and masks to draw attention away from the background and onto Gracie.

I don’t use actions or presets…’s all hand-edits. I feel that editing by hand gives me much more control over my style and the quality of the images that I produce.

Here are a few images from the rest of Gracie’s woodland portrait session.

I have to say that I love sessions in the woods. There’s just something so calm and serene about being in the midst of a forest. Being surrounded by nature brings a quiet, organic feel to the final images.

Yes, there are a lot of green casts to deal with, but I’m OK with that!

You can see the entire post from this woodland photography sessionĀ here.

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