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Wedding Photo Editing Versus Photo Manipulation

When it comes to engagement and wedding photography, the good news is that you don’t need to know all the details. If you partner with a photographer that you connect with and can trust, you’ll be in good hands. Having said that, it’s important to have some foundational photography knowledge as you begin to shop for an engagement and wedding photography vendor.

At most weddings, a photographer will take hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of photos. While an important part of the process will be to sift through the images to narrow them down, photo editing is what will take those photos from being good to being great. Before photographs get delivered to you in a pretty album, the images will go through extensive editing so that you can get the highest quality outcome from your big day. And partnering with a professional who is proficient in the editing process will ensure that you’re pleased with the end result.


There are two ways that a photographer will edit your images: photo editing or photo manipulation. So, what exactly does that mean, and what’s the difference? Read on!


The Difference Between Editing and Manipulating Pictures

Let’s break down the basics to help you get a better understanding of wedding photo editing versus photo manipulation. (While you don’t have to fully grasp all the basics of what goes into wedding photography, you will feel more confident and empowered by doing some of this research on your own.)


What is photo editing?

Photo editing is the process that will enhance the quality of your visuals. For example, a photographer could make a photo brighter or remove shadows from the faces of the couple or VIP guests. (These are both common edits for outdoor engagement and wedding photos!) The photographer could update the sharpness of a photo or enhance an image so that it isn’t grainy. There are also basic editing processes, like cropping to adjust the size of the photo or to remove unwanted details from the corners of the frame.


Here is an example of what an original image looks like with highlighted key changes to be made.

(Keep scrolling to see what the finished product looks like!)


What is photo manipulation?

Photo manipulation, also referred to as a cosmetic edit, is when the photographer manipulates your photo with photoshop. This goes beyond adjusting the contrast or size. Photo manipulation involves making actual changes to the image. This process includes things like altering the colors, adjusting facial features, or adding something (this could range from including someone in your photo who wasn’t in attendance, introducing an object, or overlaying text.)


Here is an example of key areas called out prior to manipulating this image.


Photo Editing Through Joy Photo and Video

Let’s dive a little deeper into wedding photo editing versus photo manipulation. When you purchase our services, photo editing is part of our standard process and will be included in your package. In addition, we will provide you with the RAW files (these won’t be edited but will provide you with access to each one of your images.)


When you partner with Joy Photo and Video, you can trust that before we deliver your wedding photos, they’ve each been hand-selected and edited. We will use Adobe Lightroom to edit your images in the following ways:

  • Adjusting Light: Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, Black

  • Adapting Color: Temperature, Tint, Vibrance, Saturation

  • Adding Effects: Texture, Clarity, Dehaze, Vignette

  • Enhancing Detail: Sharpness, Noise Reduction, Color Noise Reduction, Grain

  • Cleaning Up the Optics: Chromatic Aberration, Lens Correction, Defringe

  • Fixing Geometry: Crop, Size, Aspect

This isn’t an exhaustive list but gives you a better idea of the types of editing that you should expect when you're working with one of our pros. As you can see in this example, is the photo once the editing has taken place. The editing process makes a significant difference!

Photo Editing Versus Photo Manipulation

Photo Manipulation through Joy Photo and Video

If you’re interested in photo editing that’s outside of our standard services, in the form of photo manipulation, then we can add this to your package for an additional fee. To enhance a photo through manipulation, we would use Adobe Photoshop to manipulate images in some of these ways:

  • Blur, Brush, and Blend

  • Color Replacement

  • Image Cloning

  • Photo Merging

  • Facial Feature Adjustments

  • Object Addition, Removal, and Repositioning

  • Distortion and Shake Reduction

  • Transformation and Warp

  • Recomposing

  • Adding Shapes and Text

To help bring this to life, here is the same example after the photo manipulation technique has been used. See the difference?

Photo editing tips from Joy Photo and Video: editing vs. manipulation

We hope this was helpful to get a better understanding of engagement and wedding photo editing versus photo manipulation. If you’re looking for a photographer to help capture your engagement or wedding day, we’re currently booking for 2023 and beyond. Learn about our comprehensive offerings and see images from our portfolio here.


And don't miss our special offer---for a limited time, we're giving away a FREE one-hour engagement session with the purchase of a wedding package in Florida and Texas. Get the details here and contact us today.

Engagement and wedding photography tips from Joy Photo and Video

[Photoshoot in the spotlight: Teresa + Rockeven in Miami, Florida]

Choose Joy,

The Joy Team

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