There is a common misconception that a photographers work is finished when the shoot is over, however this is never the case, that's just the beginning! Post processing is a core element of modern digital photography and the "editing style" is often what people will notice before the photographers ability to take good images, (which is a little crazy if you ask me).
Instagram has revolutionised the way people take, view and edit photographs, with so many filters just a few clicks away. People know what editing styles they love, making life in some respects easier for photographers... but in some respects a little trickier if they have a specific idea in mind! We love to have a scroll through Instagram or Pinterest with our clients, it helps us gain a feel for the style of images they like. Some love faded film vibes covered in light leaks, some love super contrasty HDR (High Dynamic Range) sharpened to the high heavens, some love a classic B&W, others rather dislike B&W, some love abstract saturation, others prefer a traditional #nofilter feel, there's no right or wrong, it's just what you like.
Editing styles aside, the core element of a good photograph is the content.
I like to produce natural looking images which complement my more candid, reportage style shooting. Shooting with this in mind gives our clients "real" images, that happened in real life, instead of being made by blending a bunch of different images. I prefer to do as little airbrushing and heavy photoshop work as possible, not because I'm lazy or can't use the software, but because anyone Tom, Dick or Harry can correct "amateur mistakes" with a computer and a basic photo editing knowledge, but for me, a real photographer gets it right in camera. As (or usually before) I look through the viewfinder, I think... "Is there anything in the image frame that doesn't belong?" That being said I always shoot with Post-Processing in mind. Cameras can only see a fraction of the range of light the human eye can see, so images have to be taken with this in mind. As you see from the first 3 images on this post, they've had nothing removed and nothing added, just shot right, and given a little more OOMPH in post.
I'm often asked (or told depending how I look at it haha) to "Give me the airbrush treatment", or "Work your photoshop magic on me", which is cool, we do that too! I like to produce subtle airbrush works that look unedited, and doesn't make people look like follicle-less shiny Barbie Dolls. In my 12+ years as a photographer I have come across many challenges, for 2 years my full time roll was to photoshop images all day, every day. From removing double (triple) chins and reducing eye bags, to removing "Uncle Bob" or "that lamp post coming out of my head".
No matter how much experience gathered, processing is always a time hungry process. Grading images like the above 3 can be a lengthy process if you're editing a wedding of 2000+ images. This is one of the many hidden costs of photography. I average around 50/65 hours work into a full day wedding package - and that's with only one photographer's worth of images!
Commercial images also consume a large amount of editing time. Images first have to be shot in a manner that best lights the product, then must be edited to fit the clients brief, which is no 5 minute job. Each product is meticulously scanned for dust or dirt, imperfections corrected as best possible, whilst all being kept to scale, and colours kept accurate to ensure customers receive exactly what they expected. There's nothing worse than expecting more than you receive after an online shopping spree! While the images below look like a quick, "little brighten up and hey presto". Depending on the complexity of the edit (and the clients budget) some images take serious planning through several stages. Through from studio and set design, to images shot, then onto photoshop. Blending several images to achieve images that are physically impossible in real life.
After all that, I'll wrap up by saying I personally believe photography is more about the eye and the camera more than the computer! We love getting it right first time, and like to try and show that in our images. If you like our style, and want your photo's to be the real deal... you know who to call!
(PS Not the Ghostbusters, they're useless with cameras.)