Most photography now days requires some level of post-production or retouching to acheive the optimum result for an image. Even in the days of film this was still the case, the only difference being the extra steps required before getting an image into the computer.
These retouching or post-production services are usually offered and carried out by the photographer, however in some circumstances a graphic or web designer may complete them, or for those on a very tight budget, they may attempt to do it themselves. As you will see in any good photographer’s portfolio, many of these following steps have been carried out to present the images in their best light.
Whilst a good result from the actual photography is imperative, there are certain steps in post-production that should be an absolute minimum for any image to be used for marketing purposes;
- Colour correction – adjust the overall colour bias of the image to make it look natural and / or suitable for it’s intended use. Especially important for portraits to give natural looking skin tones.
- Spotting & dusting – look for odd spots, scratches, or dust marks in the image and retouch them out. Sometimes these marks are unwanted elements in the image itself (such as a piece of rubbish in a landscape), and sometimes it is from dust settling inside the camera due to environmental issues or simply from changing lenses.
- Level horizons – One of my pet annoyances. It is not always possible to get a perfectly horizontal horizon whilst shooting, however there should be no excuse for presenting an image as such (unless it is purposefully intended) as this is a very simple fix. It stops the landscape looking as if it is falling off the page.
- Cropping – The initial photograph can be constrained by location, lens availability, shooting wide for flexibility, or other factors. Cropping can easily remove extraneous items to acheive the best composition.
- Image sharpening – The amount of sharpening required for an image depends upon in intended purpose, and the size at which it will be published. A photographer ideally needs to know what uses the image will see to be able to complete post-production, and if another party is to complete the post-production, the photographer will usually supply the images un-sharpened.
For clients, it is important that you make sure these steps are taken either by your photographer, web or graphic designer, or by yourself to acheive the best results.
For enthusiastic amateur photographers, these simple steps can often make an otherwise good image really shine.