You are a wedding photographer and love to bring out the beauty of your subjects. You understand that it is reasonable if your brides want to look their best on their wedding day. So it might not surprise you if a bride-to-be approaches you with photo edit requests on or before her wedding day. And why not? It is her big day. She wants to look beautiful and be the center of attention. She wants everything to look perfect, at least in her wedding photographs. That’s the reason she hired you.
Thanks to technology and editing software like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, there is so much that you can do when it comes to editing and retouching wedding photos. It has become a trend, for example, to smooth skin or flatten the stomach in photographs. But as a photographer, especially if you are just starting out, the question isn’t always what you can do, but maybe what should you do, and perhaps even, how much should you charge to do it?
First, it might be helpful to know what common edits brides may request, and have a plan in place for how to set expectations for what is reasonable, and what might be above and beyond your skill level. Because brides may sometimes request very specific — and very time-consuming edits, and they might get upset if things don’t go their way.
Top 12 Edits Brides Might Ask Their Wedding Photographer To Do
You are a magician! Or at least your brides might think so. You know you’ve been here before, right?! One of your brides plans everything perfectly, but then, on the wedding day, a pimple shows up on her face! Her worst nightmare. She tries to cover it up as much as possible with make-up but it might still be visible. What can she do now? Decide to stay confident and happy and ask you, the photographer, to get rid of the pimple in ALL of her wedding photos of course!
Or what about this scenario? Your bride worked out for months to get her arms toned or get rid of her double-chin. She doesn’t reach her goal by the wedding day. She may ask photo editing to come to the rescue. You — her photographer — can tone her arms and help with double chins, right?
These are real requests! And here is the list of some additional requests brides might have when it comes to you editing their wedding photos.
1. Brightening the Eyes of the Subject
The bride might want her eyes to look pretty and her eye makeup to pop in a few of her images. She might also want the eyes of her groom to look bright (when he looks at her).
2. Fixing Discolored or Damaged Teeth in a Smile
Some people are very conscious about their smiles. Undoubtedly, a smile brightens up the day and also a photograph. So having discolored or crooked teeth can make people feel uncomfortable. The bride might want this corrected.
3. Minimizing Acne or Scars
Brides undergo so many beauty treatments to get freckles, blemishes, or scars reduced. They try to hide scars or pimples through make-up. But the camera always catches details. In that case, they use photo-retouching on anything which they consider a flaw. Brides want to look flawless with smooth skin on their wedding day.
4. “Swapping Out” a Facial Feature From Another Picture
This one is interesting. Brides might request you to swap a facial feature of theirs, like closed eyes, from another photo. A photo might be lovely but the closed eyes are ruining it. So swap! If it is difficult to swap a feature, you might swap the whole face.
This also goes for family portraits where one or the other family members have shut eyes. Most of the time, this edit would be the photographer’s decision because the couple does not get all the photos to see.
5. Softening the Bags Under Eyes & Wrinkles
For some brides, they couldn’t sleep the night before their wedding because of sheer excitement or nerves or both! Whatever be the reason, they have baggy eyes or dark circles on their wedding day, which makeup can’t always hide. Here comes photo editing to the rescue!
6. Enhancing Face Shapes
Asking for a slimmer face or a reduced double chin is common for brides. They might even want a specific jawline or a celebrity like face shape. We recommend posing to help reduce the double chin, so you don’t have to do it in Photoshop later!
7. Slim Waist, Flat Stomach
Some brides may want to look slimmer in their wedding photos – popular requests include slimming the skin of the back, flattening the stomach, and pulling in the waist. Be prepared for such requests and how to handle them.
8. Want Hair to Look Smooth
Brides try so many hairstyles to decide on one for their big day. But, their hair might just decide to defy all plans and become difficult to tame. Or maybe the wind picks up and causes disarray or flyaways. In such situations, brides may request to have their hair smoothed in images.
9. Remove Unwanted Elements
Another request is to remove distractions, such as the gum wrapper someone dropped in front of the bride, or maybe a power line in the background.
This is also one of the edits which the photographer might decide to do without specific request. But, a bride might see something and ask for it to be removed.
10. Editing Friends and Family
We all have heard stories where the mom-in-law decides to wear a bridal dress. Or, a bridesmaid upsets the bride. Or aunt Mary decides to flaunt her big tattoo on her arm. The bride may not want any of this. She might ask to change the color of her mother-in-law’s gown, erase aunt Mary’s tattoo, or remove the bridesmaid altogether from her wedding photos.
What do I do if Bride Asks for too Many Edits?
CHARGE. Yes! You deserve to ask for compensation for all your hard work and should not hesitate. You need to decide what sort of time investment it takes to meet the requests of the bride and decide if, or how, much to charge. But if it takes you time, time above what you have considered to be profitable for the wedding package, consider an “extreme editing request’ add on, either per image or per hour.
If you don’t want to have to worry about editing requests, consider placing a clause in the contract when couples book that indicates that what they see is what they get or explains that there is a charge for “extreme editing” and list what those might be. Explain it to them when you do your consultation and tell them that retouching can take a lot of time, depending on the image. Assure them, you will try to get the best images in the first place. After the wedding, if they still place requests — good for you! Make the edits and earn more.
Never Retouch Without Permission
Now you know what a bride might ask you or expect on photo-editing. But, never take this for granted. Never assume the flaws. Retouching without seeking permission or at least informing your bride could come as a surprise! Some clients may love the way they are and want to embrace the rawness. We completely support that!
Consider asking the couple before you do any photos — engagement or wedding — about how they feel about edits, or if there’s something they’d like you to pay special attention to when posing so you don’t have to do edits later. Having the conversation ahead can save time, and make for happier clients!
Editing and retouching is a complicated and controversial topic. Some people do not support it. But if your client wants it and likes it, be prepared for having the discussion and where you stand.