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  • Brian V. Berry

Why Editing is Important

I'm often asked, "do you edit your photographs?" ...And my answer is always, " yes, and often!" Let’s not kid ourselves… Everyone (models, photographers, and clients, etc.) would like to receive or use great looking images. I also believe that this is true for all captured subject matter… Without sounding too politically incorrect, in a nutshell: no one wants an ugly or unflattering picture of themselves. Moreover, no matter what other people (usually purist or those who are politically correct) think, we photographers can’t market unattractive pictures to third-party clients either; as harsh as this must sound, this is the reality of our Industry.

With this said, none of us have perfect faces, skin and bodies… Aside from unflattering natural attributes, models may get dirty or scuffed up during shoots - or they might even show up to a shoot sunburned because they overdid it on the beach the day before. These things have happened to me... If you're a photographer too, I’m sure it’s happened to you at least once… And of course, all of these things need to be addressed in post or development in order to produce something of value. Although, most photographers are reluctant to admit this, most of us edit our subjects. Just in case you’re wondering, I edit all of my images… I won’t release them without a proper edit. The level of a “proper edit,” of course, will vary, from artist to artist, based on his/her taste. Again, for the record: if I shot you, your image was edited or enhanced… Are we shocked now?

While I have many tools available to me, I typically do light editing of exposed skin area… I routinely remove blemishes, acne scarring, bags under the eyes, stretch marks, scratches, bruises, bikini lines, etc. Why? Marketing-wise, no one wants to see these things… And BTW, none of my clients wanted me to revert my images back to their original state after an edit. Go figure! I guess I might be a little right on this… I typically edit, manually, in Photoshop as I typically have little control in more automated solutions and I do it this way to avoid the “plastic look” that I see so often in the work of others… Also, you’ll never see that “spay-painted look” in other body parts, such as legs and arms. Apart from my usual or routine edits, if requested, I have removed tattoos and slimmed or sculpted bodies. While removing ugly or potentially embarrassing tattoos is not that controversial, body-sculpting is to some people... Some of them perceive this as "cheating!" But these accusers might be the same people who fudge (just a little) on their resumes... Who knows... Are these accusers just as bad? Or are these models, like their accusers, just hedging their chances for success in their in respective highly competitive markets? Would you be surprised to know that most celebrity images are "Photoshopped?" Some even body-sculpt? Go ahead... Skim through your favorite magazine and see if I'm right... This type of editing is rather routine - and of course, the market demands it. If it didn't, then there wouldn't be so much of these images published. So, yes, I do it too! When considering a photographer for your next sitting or event, see if he or she edits their images. You'll readily know by looking at their portfolio... If so, are their images overdone? Don't have to explain this... You'll know an overdone image when you see it! If editing is a part or an option to their service, ask about the scope or limit of their editing. Will they only edit certain things - or will they edit to produce a quality finished product? Most photographers will only edit acne or acne scarring - and that's it! If this satisfies your requirement, then go with them. But most often there are other issues, besides acne, that should be addressed in post processing. All that you have read thus far is just my humble opinion on this subject... You may have your own opinion of this aspect of Model Photography or the industries that it supports. If you have questions or comments pertaining to this topic, I would like to hear them... Until then. Happy shooting!

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