Hint: It's VERY important!
My current profession, in some ways, is very similar to my old profession as a coffee-slinging Barista. In either of those careers, there is an artist who crafts her masterpiece with love and tailors it to suit the needs of the individual customer.
I won't go into the complexities of how such a feat is accomplished with coffee, although I could, but I do want to dive into the creative processing that goes into infusing a digital image with enough heart to make people gasp and smile from ear to ear when they see it.
So let's start at the beginning...
A person paying for photography services often thinks of their interaction with the photographer (emails, phone calls, pre-event consultations, the day of the wedding, the hour long portrait session, etc.) as the bulk of the photographer's working day, and that when they are paying a photographer, they are paying them just for the time they 'show up', but that couldn't be further from the truth. I can't speak for other photographers, but for Rob and I, we expect that for every one hour of photography there will be four to eight hours of editing and post-processing, and other miscellaneous business tasks associated with that event or session.
So yes, technically I suppose we do get paid to show up. But just showing up, while monumentally important, isn't where the magic happens. Magic happens when you, as the photographer, establish a connection with your customer, and then in turn with any of their friends and family that you interact with. Magic happens when you use that collaborative connection with your customer to influence the way you edit and present your work to them. You take what you've learned about them, their preferences, their motivations, the things that make them excited, to help you present them with a better finished product. One that is uniquely theirs, and completed with their happiness and wonderment in mind. And doing that, being open to the individual needs and desires of each person you work with, is not always easy, but it is rewarding. It is joyful. It is magic! And that is what you're really getting for your investment.
I've got plenty of other blog posts (both already on this blog and also in my brain) about what the actual wedding or portrait session is like, so I won't spend too much time on that, and I'll skip straight to post-processing, and why it's important to the overall finished product, and how it is an extension of our connection with each customer.
As a photographer, there is a fine line between presenting things as they happened and presenting things as they felt. We edit pictures for the emotion. For how the moment felt when I was there, and how I imagine, using the superpower of empathy, the moment felt to those who were more actively participating in it. I'll show you an example of what I mean.
Here is one example of the original, unedited picture of ours (you should feel super special right now because I never show unedited photos to anyone):
Good picture, even if the shade we were in made it a bit dark. But the title picture for this post, the edited version of the above photo, is the way I remember that moment feeling.
Our goal isn't to be entirely accurate about the way things looked at the time I took the photo, our goal is to capture how things felt. To capture the essence of the moment, of the person, of the day, and distill it into something you will want to look at over and over and over again, because it reminds you of a feeling and because it brings that feeling back.
The reason post-processing takes so much time, and is so valuable, is that with each photo, we're gauging what subtle adjustments would allow the emotion of the moment to shine through. Things like crop, white balance, brightness, contrast, and color versus black and white all determine how a finished photo feels when you look at it. Rob and I don't do any batch editing. None at all. Zip. We lovingly edit each individual photo that makes the cut, to perfectly capture all of the beautiful things that were happening at the time we took the original photo, both the tangible and the intangible.
Nearly anyone these days can pick up a camera and snap some pictures. What is valuable and fulfilling about what we do is the artistry and effort that goes into taking those photos and creating something more than just a snapshot. Creating something you will cherish, something that will take you back to that perfect (or wonderfully imperfect) moment and fill you with all the love, hope, and joy of that moment all over again.
That, right there, is priceless.
p.s. Enjoy a few before/after examples that show the power of editing!