I get this question a lot, and it is understandably a confusing issue. You’ll hear photographers use lots of different lingo for their post-processing. Some might say “final” or “finished” or “fully edited” but we all (mostly) mean the same thing.
A finished image is one that we’ve done some sort of significant post-processing to (this means it’s not straight out of the camera and then just dumped into your online gallery). For me, though I take 70-100 images at a full lifestyle photography session, I pull out only 25-30 of the very best images to “finish” and present to you at your ordering session. I generally spend at least ten minutes on each image that I present to a client from a lifestyle session.
What I do to the image largely depends upon the individual image and the feeling that I want to convey, but in general I enhance what’s already there. Pop the color, eliminate distractions in the background, even out skintone, maybe do a custom black and white conversion. Even with perfect exposure and great light, most images can benefit from this treatment. I work hard not to get too Glamor Shot-ey, but I want to deliver something to you that has that extra wow factor.
Below is an example:
The process of finishing images is complex and time-consuming and its part of why custom photography is so expensive, but I think it’s what sets professional photography apart. This is one (of many) parts of my job that I really enjoy because it uses creativity and problem solving… and I love to see the results!