Tips + Techniques

Exploring the Possibilities of Post-Production with Compositions That Draw People In

May 18, 2018

By Jerry Ghionis

All Photos © Jerry Ghionis

While I have been a huge advocate for in-camera artistry over the years, that doesn’t mean I give “proofs” to my clients without any post-production. It takes an experienced photographer to bring out the best in their subjects, but it also takes another set of skills to make it shine brighter after capture. Sometimes there is only so much you can do in camera and you have to rely on your post-production skills to refine, finesse and bring out the best in your creations. Here are a couple examples of what I mean.


1. I usually don’t shoot with the hindsight of post-production, but there are some things that are almost impossible to achieve in camera. The above composite was designed in my head as I shot the sequence of photos featured below.

I pictured the model interacting with herself in the final creation. I needed consistent lighting and some negative space to form the picture. One overhead strobe was used to light all of the individual shots, which are straight out of camera. Although I favored the images you see here when I was shooting the sequence, notice how I flipped three of the images for the final result. Each image was deep-etched and layered over the middle foundation image. The photos were color-corrected, retouched and blended to achieve the composite. WPPI Grand Master Rocco Ancora helped complete my vision with his incredible retouching techniques.

2. The lighting is flattering and soft, the posing is refined and the cropping was achieved in camera. It’s just about as good as you can get from this photograph under the circumstances. Perhaps the color temperature could have been refined in camera, but the model’s hair needed to be retouched; the highlights on her shoulder and behind her also needed to be darkened or cloned. Her skin was quite flawless (which is rare) and the highlights on the wall around her hand needed to be removed.

When you compare the finessed creation to the image straight out of camera, the “after” shot is more refined, the color temperature all over is more inviting and there are no distracting highlights taking your attention away from her eyes and expression.

Camera: Nikon D810, f/4
Exposure: 1/400sec
Lens: 70-200mm at 185mm
ISO: 100

Although almost anything is possible after capture, I encourage you to not rely on your post-production skills to create what you should have achieved in camera. I’ve seen an ordinary image be elevated substantially with post-production, but nothing beats an incredible foundation to work with.

Jerry Ghionis is widely regarded as one of the best wedding photographers and educators in the world, is a USA Nikon Ambassador and was WPPI’s very first Grand Master. 

Related: Illuminating the Layers of a Composite Photo

How to Composite Your Photos Seamlessly