As a past professional photographer I know that a big part of what makes a good image is what happens after the photo is taken. No matter how well exposed or composed the original is, I have rarely seen a photo that can’t be improved in some way with editing. Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of lightening it up or boosting the contrast but other times it’s more complicated and involves balancing the color, removing unwanted objects or straightening architectural lines. I know many designers struggle with photo editing because I see images posted on social media daily that clearly could use a help.
If you are a designer, blogger, realtor or home stager you know how important posting a great photo is. In our highly visual world, posting a bad photo can actually hurt your chance of getting new clients or selling a home. I understand that not everyone can take a stellar photo and even less know how to take a mediocre photo and turn it into a great photo. Learning Light room, Photoshop or any editing App is an option but not everyone has the time or interest to do that.
Therefore, after being asked several times by others if would edit their images, I have decided to add an editing service to my business. This photo editing service is perfect for bloggers, designers, stagers, realtors or anyone who struggles with getting a photo from good to great.
So that you can see the value and difference that editing can do, here are a few before and after images that I have recently edited for other designers.
Canadian designer and business coach Claire Jefford was on the Design Hounds LA Dwell on Design trip with me. Every time we took a group photo I would say, “I’ll edit it”. By the end of our trip it became somewhat of a joke with Claire saying, “Let Linda edit it”. That is when the idea first hit me that this is a service that would be of value to others.
Here is a photo Claire took of one of the homes during our drive around LA. Upon first sight it looks pretty good, right?
What my professional photography eye noticed were a few things that could make this exterior shot even better.
- Straightened out the angle a bit
- Color corrected the image
- Boosted the saturation ever so slightly on the two pink bushes in front of the home
- Removed the antenna from the roof
- Removed the two security signs from the left and right side of the garden.
- Lightened up the right side of the photo
- Cropped out the partial tree trunk which wasn’t adding anything to the photo
All these changes were very slight but elevated the photo from good to great. Now let’s look at another one, also taken by Claire during our Dwell on Design tour.
Who wouldn’t like a dream closet like this, right? Like the first image I showed, it’s not a bad shot, but with some editing it will look so much better for using in a blog post or on social media.
These are the changes I made to improve this photo.
- Removed the exit sign, the black track lighting and the ceiling vent.
- Lightened up the image overall without lightening (and hence blowing out) the chandelier
- Boosted contrast and lightened up the clothing on the bottom rack
- Cropped in on the right to remove that closet edge which was distracting
BEFORE PHOTO EDITING
This last image by Claire also benefited from some slight editing.
- Straightened out perspective so it doesn’t appear that dresser is sliding down hill
- Lightened up dresser to show off the beauty of the wood
- Boosted contrast a bit
- Removed some distracting items that were reflected in the mirror
Designer Adrienne Gerein reached out to me do some work on photos from a recently photographed project. Adrienne lives in a very small town and there are no architectural photographers in her area. She hired a local photographer to shoot a recently completed project. Sadly, the photos were not quite to the level Adrienne wanted for her website or to attract clients, so she asked me if I could improve them.
One problem is that not specializing in interiors, the photographer used a very wide angle lens and there was way too much going on in many of the photos. Plus, when a wide angle lens is used it causes all the lines to be WAY off. Look at the ceiling line. It runs down and to the left. Plus, seeing the back of the sofa adds nothing to the photo if it was the entrance that was the subject of the photo.
Adrienne gave me complete freedom to edit as I saw fit. I decided this image was really about the stunning entrance, gorgeous door and statement chandelier. The back of the sofa and the partial stair railings added nothing to the shot. The dog brings life to the image so he needed to stay.
- Cropped out sofa and stair railings
- Straightened lines and fixed perspective
- Removed sun “hot spots” streaking across wall above the door.
Now this looks like an image worthy of her portfolio and one that will surely attract new clients.
Again, here is the same problem as above. The photographer used a wide angle lens and there is WAY too much going on in the shot. The sun streaks are very distracting and you can’t see what is going on in the dining room, so there is no reason to include it.
- Crop out dining room.
- Straighten lines
- I lighten up sofa
Now the focus is on the beautiful furniture, carpet and view. It wasn’t until I had cropped in this photo that I noticed the custom builtin bookcase and ladder around the window. My eye was so distracted by all the unnecessary visual clutter going on in the first photo.
One last photo from Adrienne. I hate to be a broken record but converging or diverging lines in architectural photography drives me crazy. Straight lines are a must when photographing interiors. Neither the window nor the door frame are straight. This is because either the camera was at too high of an angle or the lens was too wide. In this case I think both those situations applied. The photo is too dark as well and because of the wide angle lens there is too much floor and ceiling showing.
- I straighten architectural lines
- Cropped in for better shot
- Lighten image
See what a difference a better crop, lightening and straightening the window lines make? Even though Adrienne’s photos were initially not very good, editing saved the photo shoot.
GROUP PHOTO BEFORE EDITING
How many times have you been in the situation where you pass someone your cell phone for a group photo. Nine times out of ten they come out terrible. The lighting is usually horrific because you are in a dark bar or you are strongly backlit. Here is a photo where the copper table cast a dark reddish tint on everyone’s faces. As usual, the camera also exposed for the lightest part of the photo which was the back ground leaving the faces dark.
GROUP PHOTO AFTER EDITING
- Fix exposure
- Fix orange tint on faces
- Remove red string hanging down from umbrella
- Crop out water glass on lower left
I know that many of you reading this post are excellent at editing. However, for those of you who don’t want the hassle of learning to edit, or don’t have the time to to edit, do as my friend Claire says and “Let Linda edit it!”
I’m keeping my photo editing service simple and my fee is $20 per image. Here is the link to my photo editing service page to find out how to get started.
Remember these wise words as they make a difference between a good photo and a great photo.