Hey, this photo is ©

Wedding Photograph Retouching

June 30, 2016 ,


I must say right away that I did not take this photograph.  I was asked to retouch this fantastic image by a professional photographer here in Perth.  He shoots Nikon and I shoot Canon but somehow we have found enough familiar ground to remain friends.  The thing here is that he gave me a great image.  It was well lit and the image was huge over 30 megapixels.  This makes my job easier than trying to edit a small “point and shoot”  image.


Ok, so the basics of what I want to achieve with a Wedding “Edit” are pretty simple.  It’s all about The Bride!  I always begin an Edit with the thought that I want the bride to say that this is the best photo she has ever taken.  To this end, there is a few criterion that I have to follow.  With the focus being on the Bride, all extraneous eye-catching detritus has to be minimised or removed entirely. Secondly, the colours have to work together.  Third, the luminosity variation within the image has to draw the attention of the viewer to the subject.  I sometimes use colour wheels when trying out new colour grades that I want to use for an image.  Sometimes I am given a colour grading by the photographer.  If I’m shooting then, of course, it is up to me.  The Photographer may say they want the sky deep blue and the warm colours constrained to Orange hues, for example.   Other times I am left to my own volition.  With this edit, there were a few specs that I had to follow but I freely edited much of the work as well.

Here is my 14 point edit list for this image:

1 The main objective is to add focus to the bride’s face and dress

2.  The colour grading or colour toning was to be done in purples and oranges that work well for sunset images.

3 Change the skies to mauve/purple for that rich sunset look that everyone loves.

4 Add highlights to the bride’s hair.  Sometimes I’m asked to add specific colour highlights into a bride’s hair but here the main objective was just to add a little pop.

5  I often look around the image to spot distractions that need to be removed.  There were a couple of bathers and lights from ships that I found distracting.  They were removed.

6. When I harmonise colours, items that were not previously noticeable become distractions.  Once I started knocking the colours into shape I noticed that the flowers were really pulling my eye.  I found the yellow of the roses and the large stamen that touched the dress to be quite a distraction.  So I removed the stamen and changed the flowers to white adding shadows that were the same colour as the sky.

7 The sunset was enhanced in luminosity because it had to “generate” the additional light that I bumped up in the sky.  The light levels have to be consistent throughout the image or else it looks funny.

8 The “Controversial”  Push!  I sometimes sculpt various aspects of the Brides I edit.  Brides’ differ in the amount of sculpting they require and want.  At the end of the day, the “Sculpt” has to be subtle and flattering.

9+10  I often re-tone the skin.  Global colour adjustments don’t look believable.  The skin had to be lighter and reflect the tones generated by the colour in the new sky colour palette. lightening the skin brought out additional noise in the shadows which had to be corrected locally before the toning could begin.

11 + 12   Re-colour ocean to match sky and add the colours in the purple sky to the highlights in the dress.

13 I needed to brighten the ring hand and highlight the ring on the Bride’s finger.  The hand and finger are in shadow in the as shot image and this needed to be sorted out to draw your attention to the ring.

14  Decrease the light around the bride – Rocks and edges of the image to, once again focus your attention on the subject


Most of the work here is about harmonising the colour palette, and drawing your eye away from the background toward the subject.  We went as far as to change the colour of the flowers as this caused a colour distraction and detracted from the colours of the bride’s dress.


Before & After Slider Below


We that was it for this image.  It took a while but I hope you will agree that the image looks great and any bride would be over the moon to have an image like this.  I hope this brief post shows you the difference in the responsibilities of a Photographer and Photo Editor.  Often it is a collaboration but often the public is unaware of what goes on behind the scenes to create a beautiful image such as this.  Now you know.


Send me a line or shoot over images if you are thinking about having them edited or printed.