I'm fortunate that this has never happened to me (at least not yet!), but I've heard mutliple stories from my wedding photog friends about it. Here is the scenario: They've just spent countless hours carefully and lovingly sorting through all of their client's wedding photos, editing each one that made the cut, and adding it into a specifically curated photo gallery. They proudly send off the completed gallery, waiting anxiously for a response from their client. They're proud of their work and can't wait for their clients to see! The response email finally comes in and... oh no. Their clients aren't happy. They say, " I have a friend who's a photographer and they said you didn't edit the images."
Yikes. (I'll address the "my photographer friend said..." situation in another blog post soon!)
It is very important to remember that honestly, that's the goal! We don't want our images to look edited. In a world where social media filters have become the standard for amateur photo editing it's easy to understand why people are expecting an obvious edit. We are not applying filters quickly to each image and going about our business, though.
We adjust the light and shadows in every image. We correct colors that are just smidge off. We bring skin tones to where they should be, We adjust the fine details individually. We bring the raw image as captured to an image that reflects our brand's style without making it look edited. Even the most natural looking edits envolve multiple adjustments, and the edits we may need to make can vary literally from image to image.
Here is a photo I took of my daughter for her birthday photos recently. On the left is the raw image without any edits and the one on the left is after making several minor adjustments.
To get this image true to my style and closer to what my eye actually saw in the moment I had to make several changes! I had to adjust the highlights and shadows, as well and the light and dark shades of the image overall. I had to adjust her skin tone to bring it up to the beautiful peachy color it naturally is, and I had to remove all the and grey and blue from the snow. Pure white things ( snow, white wedding dresses, etc.) actually photograph blue. The final image still looks natural and still doesn't mimic the effect of popular filters, despite all the adjustments made.
Here is another before and after. ( Just because I LOVE that Lightroom offers this feature!)
See how the whole image is brighter and less grey without being over exposed? The final result looks unedited but you can clearly see that it has been.
Please remember that professional edits are always meant to look subtle and reflect our style. They aren't supposed to look like you ran them through your instagram filter ;)