Before & After: Kaylee

It’s been quite a while since I shared a before and after post, so why not! My workflow and processing has evolved a bit since the last post nearly two years ago, especially for my senior portraits. I now take about an hour to edit a full session, which is MUCH quicker than before. Part of this is because I’ve been working harder to nail a shot in camera, so that I’m spending last time on post-processing. I’m also reserving creative edits for shots I know the client will love and is looking for.

For this weeks before and after, I’m going to share the process from my session with Kaylee, a senior at montezuma.

For this shot, I used a reflector to bounce a little extra light in her eyes, and I dialed in a Kelvin white balance since the light was fairly consistent. You can see that there are some nice catch lights in her eyes to give her that sparkle, and the light wraps around her face and looks nice and soft. A pretty decent straight out of camera shot!

After tweaking the white balance just a tad in Lightroom, and ever so slightly adjusting the exposure, I export the image to photoshop. Once in photoshop, I run a custom action on all of my senior images that I created. The action combines some skin smoothing and retouching with a bit of a color pop, and allows me to do any additional color tweaks.  I tend to like my senior photos to be a bit warmer since my photo lab prints on the cooler side, so I do that here as well. When this action runs, it has several layers, and I paint using a brush at about 75% opacity on each layer to adjust as necessary.

Each image will be a bit different for what it needs. For this one of Kaylee, I soften the skin, adjust the color a bit, and let the color pop at about 20% for that layer. That’s pretty typical for most of my senior images, though sometimes it is more or less.  Next, if it’s necessary, I’ll brighten any areas that are too dark (often, this is the eye socket, but in this photo it’s nice and bright) using a curves layer.  I’ll also smooth any stray blemishes or scars using the spot healing brush, though Kaylee looks great here and doesn’t need it!

And that’s it! Here’s a comparison of the before (SOOC) and after with final edits.

I hope you enjoyed this! Next time, I’ll share a before and after that features a more creative edit.

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