How an Average Photo becomes a Better Photo through the magic of editing

There is a lot of work that goes into creating a decent photo. As a professional photographer, first and foremost you need to know how to use your camera. That’s essential.

I shoot in manual mode which means I control the settings on the camera. I prefer manual so I can adjust the settings based upon the environment and the look I want my photos to have. Knowing how to do this very quickly is important. I have to adjust them as the light changes which which happens all the time outside.

Knowing how to do this on the fly when my subject is probably moving around a lot explains why my clients will say to me: “I can never take a decent photo of my dog.” Before I learned photography, I couldn’t either.

To make an average photo a better photo, the photo needs to be in focus. That’s the first step.

Here is the progression of editing this photo. You’ll notice that Moose looks dark in the photo but the background is bright. I shot it this way on purpose. If I’d adjusted the settings so that Moose was lighter, the background would be too bright.

This is what’s called SOOC - straight out of the camera. I’ve made zero edits to this photo. No lighting adjustments or anything. Many photographers won’t ever show you photos SOOC because the photos don’t look great. We work our “magic” during the editing process and many don’t want you to see the image prior to it being finished.

I opened the photo in Lightroom (an editing software) and adjusted the lighting and colors in the photo.

Can you tell what I did here? I removed the leash and cleaned up the dirt on Moose’s face and legs in Photoshop.

Here’s the final image. Do you see what I did here besides brighten the photo? If you look at the photos above this one, Moose is situated on the right side of the photo. He is also looking in that direction. Typically in a photo if the dog is looking away, you want “room” in the photo in the direction the dog is looking. I created that “room.” This took a long time. Since I was already working on the sidewalk, I cleaned it up so it didn’t look so dirty.

Creating the sidewalk in this photo took some time. Otherwise, it was a pretty easy edit. Removing the leash was simple. Doing the color and exposure / brightening was pretty easy. I love taking an average photo and making it better by using editing magic. That’s part of the fun and where I get to be creative.

What do you think about the final image? I think my sweet boy Moose with his paws crossed is pretty cute. :)