My Editing Workflow Exposed (But Seriously, Here’s How I Do It)

Editing photos can be a love-hate relationship for photographers. Some folks live in Photoshop, dodging and burning until their retinas singe. Others, well, let’s just say their editing skills are about as advanced as applying a preset and calling it a day.

Me? OK, confession time (and yes, this may surprise you): I don’t hoard all the editing magic for myself. Sure, I enjoy the process and the chance to breathe life into a RAW image, but I’m also a firm believer in delegation (mostly because I not-so-secretly harbor control enthusiast tendencies, but that’s a story for another day). Today though? I’m giving you the down-and-dirty breakdown of how your precious pup’s portrait goes from “straight outta camera” to a masterpiece you’ll be absolutely obsessed with for years to come.

From RAW to Rockin’: The Magic of Color Correction

After every session, my routine is pretty straightforward: as soon as I step through my front door, I make a beeline for my computer, tripping over Hunter who always greets me with a “And who were you petting?” sniffspection in the process. The first order of business? Offloading those SD cards! It’s a crucial step in my workflow, ensuring that I can swiftly transfer, cull, and prep your images for editing.

Once the transfer is complete, I dive right into the culling process. The lowdown on how it all goes down (in under 10 minutes, no less): Photo Mechanic. This program is a master of RAW file wrangling, the Usain Bolt of image loading. Drag that card in, and those RAW files pop up faster than you can say “treat.” No more waiting for slow-loading previews; Photo Mechanic lets me jump right in.

I like to do a two-round cull. First, I scan quickly, tagging the obvious keepers, you know…the ones with perfectly positioned ears and those irresistible puppy eyes. This first pass takes mere minutes. I don’t spend time overthinking anything. It’s either good or it’s not. Exposure tests, out-of-focus action shots, those taken when everyone wasn’t ready or looking, and those not up to my professional standards are deleted during the culling process.

Round two is where I get a little more…dare I say, ruthless, revisiting those remaining tagged images, this time with a more discerning eye. Any blurry shots, closed eyes (those sneaky pups), or duplicates get the boot. The whole culling process takes me about 10-15 minutes. By the end, I’m left with a lean, mean collection of the absolute best quality portraits.

Tag, You’re It (and Going to Lightroom)

The lucky ones who survived the culling then get whisked off to Lightroom where I run a quick edit on one or two images as a reference point for my amazing Montreal-based editor, Christina. While I first added an editor to my team in April 2023, Christina has been a more recent addition, joining me at the start of this year, and she does a wonderful job working her magic for subtle base edits.

Christina is my white balance whisperer and a real color correction queen! Her expertise lies in transforming those straight-out-of-camera shots into the stunning images you see at your ordering appointment.

Wall Art Worthy: The Masterpiece Touch

Now, for the portraits destined for wall art, albums, and other products. Those get the white-glove treatment! You wouldn’t settle for anything less than a flawless portrait of your best friend, and neither would I. Blemishes disappear, flyaway hairs find their place, eye boogies are banished, backgrounds get cleaned up, and those puppy-dog eyes get an extra dose of sparkle.

When it comes to leashes, I unleash (pun intended) my inner Photoshop wizard, wielding my Wacom pen like a magic wand. Suddenly, your beloved Labrador looks like he’s bounding majestically through a field of wildflowers, not tethered to a slightly disguised six-foot leash at the end of your arm.

Multiple dogs in one shot? Forget about coordinated head tilts and soulful gazes. That’s where my true artistry shines as I use my Jedi mind tricks (read: selection tools, layers, masking, brushes, and generative fill) to bring their wayward eyes and furry bodies together. The result? A picture that captures the delightful chaos of a multi-pup household, magically wrangled into a single, unforgettable portrait.

But what about that rogue hair that peskily sleeps escaping your ponytail, or the ever-present hint of under-eye drama courtesy of those sleepless new puppy nights? That’s where Evoto steps in, my secret weapon for human editing. Think of Evoto as a digital airbrush for the whole family. Skin tone gets evened out, smiles get a subtle boost, and everyone’s eyes seem to sparkle a little brighter. What I love most about Evoto is that it enhances, not replaces. It’s like sprinkling a touch of fairy dust on your portraits, ensuring that everyone looks their absolute best without losing the genuine warmth of the moment.

From there, things get extra fancy with what I call “master art retouching” as I believe that wall art pieces deserve a little extra oomph to take them to the next level. Expect even more meticulous retouching, creative cropping to maximize impact, and adjustments that ensure your pet’s portrait becomes a true centerpiece in your home. Finer details are accentuated, textures are enhanced, and the overall look is elevated to a work of art fit for any gallery (or living room).

The Final Review Process

Consider this final stage the cherry on top—​the finishing touch that guarantees your portraits not only meet your expectations but surpass them entirely. Every single portrait, from the simplest matted gift print to the most elaborate bespoke canvas masterpiece, gets my personal stamp of approval. Before anything gets sent your way, (with love, care, and a touch of dog hair, of course) I give it a thorough once-over to ensure every detail is perfect. This rigorous final touch is not merely a technical bullet point to be checked off (though you know I do love a good checklist); it’s a dedication to your one hundred percent satisfaction. (Of course, the happy tears from grateful pet parents are a pretty sweet perk too!)

So, there you have it! A glimpse into the slightly-neurotic-but-utterly-passionate world of my pet portrait editing workflow. With a little bit of technical wizardry, at least two mugs of herbal tea and a half-consumed bottle of water collecting on my desk, and a whole lot of love, I turn those raw moments into timeless keepsakes you’ll cherish for years to come. I strive to create a visual narrative that resonates deeply with you with an unwavering desire to create something beautiful and enduring, a testament to the joy and love your pet brings into your life.

Are you ready to watch me and my team work my magic on your dog’s portraits? Let’s go! Simply choose your adventure to see how I can transform your images from pixels to products.

4 thoughts on “My Editing Workflow Exposed (But Seriously, Here’s How I Do It)

  1. Donna says:

    Amazing post Jes, I love that you can inject so much humor into a post on editing workflow ! You are a culling master, I won’t admit how much time I spend culling and doing basic edits before my client sees the images😳.

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      When I think of culling, it’s either “good” (in-focus, with great expression, sharp, etc.) or it’s not. Anything that’s not is immediately cut and deleted. Regardless, I think we each can develop an editing workflow that works for us, and of course, that will look different photographer to photographer.

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