Just what goes into a photo after the shoot is over? Learn from these seasoned photographers how they create masterful photos in post-production.
Photo retouchers date back to just a few years after the commercial invention of the camera. The first known retouching took place in 1846, when the Welsh painter Calvert Jones used India ink to remove a figure from one of his negatives. But the advent of digital photography changed everything, giving the public the opportunity to edit photos without painstaking manual work. Now, mobile editing apps compete for downloads. Retouching tools, once reserved for the photographic elite, have become part of our daily lives.
These days, the task of editing can require just as much time and effort as the actual shooting. In stock photography in particular, images have to meet a high technical standard. The colors, the focus, and the crop must be perfect. We wondered: How do modern stock photographers edit their images? Below, seven photographers and one creative director tell us exactly what goes into making a picture ready to submit and sell.
1. “I adjust the lighting, color, tone, and contrast, making sure the image conveys the mood or emotion I want to portray.”
Image by Suzanne Tucker. Gear: Canon EOS 6D camera, EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens. Settings: Focal length 50mm; exposure 1 sec; f4.5; ISO 100.
What’s the story behind this photo?
Our backyard is filled in the summer with fireflies. I go out each evening at dusk with my tripod and a shutter release, set the camera on bulb, focus where I want my subject to be, and wait for the fireflies to come out. I take multiple long exposure images to capture their light and light trails and then stack the photos in layers while editing to recreate the scene.