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Understanding Post-Production in Photography

With an example from a Brookline MA photo shoot

Written by Mark Mendoza on August 31, 2018

Brookline Home


If you’ve ever received a photographer’s quote or invoice and wondered what exactly the line item “post production” means and why you are being billed for it, or maybe you’re thinking about hiring a photographer and want to be prepared for what some of the costs might be, or maybe you just want to know what the heck post production is anyway, then please read on…

“We’ll just fix it in post” is a phrase you may have heard that can make the concept of post-production a little confusing. “post” is short for “post-production”. It’s a phrase that’s said when something goes wrong during a photo shoot. Saying “we’ll fix it in post” means we’ll just fix the issue later with editing, rather than taking time to resolve the problem during the shoot. But, as any professional photographer will tell you, the point of post-production is not about remedying problems that were ignored during a photo shoot. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Post-production is about completing the vision the photographer had before he or she even began shooting. It is purely part of the process – and it’s planned for every single time. 

Post-production editing is as important as the shoot itself.

Think of a photography session like baking a cake. The actual photo shoot is like mixing all the ingredients together. But at that point, it’s still just batter. Without post-production, a photo is really only half-done. Post-production editing is like putting the cake in the oven.

Post-production is not about fixing. It’s about finishing.

It’s not to say that the editing process doesn’t entail stamping out specs of dust or touching up other imperfections. Certainly, that is a part of it. But post-production also involves adjusting other features of the photo such as light levels, color, saturation, and sharpness in order to reach the photo’s final state – that is, the photographer’s initial vision, something known as “pre-visualization”, a term Ansel Adams described as “the ability to anticipate a finished image before making the exposure”. 

Take the photo at the top of this post. This is a home I recently shot for a real estate agent in Brookline, MA. When shooting anything outside mid-day, there is one big challenge a photographer will often face: a cloudless sky. Harsh, direct sunlight can cause pictures to look blown out, overly saturated, and highly contrasted, while also creating deep shadows that cause details to be lost. 

So how do photographers like me overcome these problems? We start by locking the camera down on a tripod and then, without moving the camera, we take multiple shots at various exposures. The idea behind this technique is to later blend the various shots in post-production to create a photo that, in its final state, looks crisp, correctly exposed, and professional. Similar techniques are used in product photography where multiple shots are taken at various focus points, then blended to achieve a shot that is tack-sharp front to back. 

Ask your photographer!

So as you can see, post production can be time consuming and with that comes a cost. But proper post production is what separates professional photos from amateur ones.  The last thing any business owner wants is to sink a bunch of time and money into a photo shoot that produces just-okay photos. 

Just-okay photos come from a photographer’s lack of experience, not just while shooting but with editing too. 

So ask a photographer how he or she views the post-production phase before deciding whom you want to hire. It could save you a lot of time, money, and stress!  

As always, drop me a line with any questions! 


Tags: product photography,  professional photographer, real estate photography

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