Avoiding Photoshop Like the Plague: Getting the results we want IN camera!

Guys, it’s confession time:

We HATE photoshop.

There. We said it. Phew! That feels good to get that off our chests.

We can’t tell you how many times clients or wedding guests will make jokes with us about photoshopping things. They’ll want us to perform eye surgery on uncles that can’t seem to keep their eyes on us, add dinosaurs in the background while the bridal party runs away, or fill in tan lines. The issue is, they don’t realize how much TIME that adds to us while we’re at home!

We don’t like to take a lot of time to edit. We generally have sessions done in about an hour, and we are done working on weddings in two days. Do you know why? Because the more time we take to sit down and try to “fix” things in our post processing system, the less time we get to spend with our boys, hanging out with friends, sitting in front of the TV eating sour gummy worms, or any number of things that we’d rather be doing. 😉

So photographers…if you ever hear the words “I’ll fix it later” come out of your mouth during the rush of a wedding day or portrait session, STOP what you’re doing, take a deep breath, and fix it NOW. It might take some extra time, but we promise that waiting for pedestrians to pass, or redoing a couple of poses because you forgot to change your camera settings is only going to take a few minutes. That’s nothing compared to the hours in photoshop you’re going to be spending cloning out people, and brushing away at the shadows under their eyes!

So here are 5 tips to getting better images IN camera so you can spend less time in your office and can more time doing things that are important to you!

1. Expose Your Camera Correctly
Ah, exposure. Everything really does hinge on those three little settings on your camera! Aperture, shutter speed, and ISO (light sensitivity) work together to let just enough light into your sensor to grab that quick image that appears on the back of our cameras just a few milliseconds later.

Aperture is how wide you want your lens to open to let light in, and is referred to in F stops. Shutter speed is how fast your sensor stays open before it shuts again and is measured most commonly in fractions of seconds. ISO is the light sensitivity and is your camera’s way of compensating for there not being enough light.

Depending on the look you want, these three things will work together to create the perfect exposure! If you want a blurry background and your subject sharp, your aperture will have to be lower or more open (our sweet spot is right around  f/2.2!). If you want everything to be in focus with less depth then it will have to be higher, or more closed! If you don’t want a lot of movement in your picture, raise your shutter speed! If it’s super bright outside, put your ISO all the way down to 100.

No matter what your shooting conditions are or the look you’re going for, as long as your in camera meter is perfectly exposed then you will be golden. 🙂

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Redo Things
Everyone makes mistakes…it doesn’t matter if you’ve been doing this for 10 days or 10 years. We can get absent-minded and forget to change our settings when we move from one lighting scenario to the next. In fact, one of the most recent engagement sessions we did, Stephanie made this exact error!

We were shooting in a nature preserve, and we went from one heavily shaded area out into an open plain. We were in a groove and Steph was posing our couple and everyone was laughing and joking around. Well, she must have gotten a little distracted because even though the new area we were shooting in was MUCH brighter, she didn’t meter her camera! Completely slipped her mind! So you know what we did? We just redid some of the poses! Our couple didn’t need to know the details of what happened, so all she said was, “Alright, we’re going to go back to that snuggly pose…” and redid the wide shots of what she got earlier. Bam. Done. It took two extra minutes and saved us a huge headache later!

3. Use A Reflector!
We cannot stress this one enough. USE. A. REFLECTOR. Yes…it really does make that big of a difference! We like to use “natural reflectors” as much as possible so we can keep our cameras in our hands and continue our shooting flow because of the way we shoot together and interact with our clients. So light colored concrete, gravel, white buildings and walls, a bride’s dress…a lot of these things will help shine a little light back in their faces and get rid of those shadows under their eyes!

And if there are no natural reflectors around, grab your giant disk and reflect away!

Sometimes people will ask us how we edit skin to get it to look so bright and even. Guys. We don’t do ANYTHING special in our post processing…we just make sure the light is really flattering!

4. Pay Attention to Your Background
Sometimes as photographers, we can get tunnel vision…especially if you’re in a groove or trying to hurry! There have been many times that we have loaded images into our computer and start going through them just to realize there was a coiled up hose in the background of the image, or a squirrel ran into the frame. And sure…content aware is a wonderful tool, but we’d rather not trace trash and animals. 😉

Sometimes if we just stop and take a deep breath, that’s enough to center ourselves and refocus on our task at hand. Even though a wedding day can feel like it, it’s not a race! Taking an extra 30 seconds to move the Aquafina bottle out of the area that we’re doing bridal party portraits, or moving to a different location because people are starting to congregate is going to save you a headache later. Trust us…we’re always glad we took a few extra moments when we’re looking through our images!

5. Lighting, lighting, lighting
We cannot stress this one enough. Did you know the word photographer literally means one who paints with light? Light. Is. Everything. And getting your subjects in the PERFECT light is so crucial to a good photograph!

Pay attention to how the shadows fall on their faces. Make sure that the way you’re positioning them isn’t putting one in a shadow while the other is lit wonderfully. A lot of times what we do, is we’ll walk around and see how the light falls on our hand. The less detail and shadow you start to see on your hand, the better the light.

Lighting is SO important, in fact, that we dedicated an entire guide to it! If you want to snag yours, click here!

So there you have it friends! Our 5 quick tips to avoid photoshop and get some of your time back. We hope this was helpful! Hugs and high fives all around!


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