The Photo Process


I’ve decided to share how I go about picking the best out of the pictures that I take.

Rarely if ever have I gotten a fantastic photo on the first shot. The one above was the 13th I took in the set, however it was only two of 54 total shots that I actually liked. This is pretty average when I’m the one taking the photos of myself. When someone else takes them for me, I usually only have them take around 7-12 because I don’t want to be annoying. BUT, it usually pays off to have lots of photos when photographing people. It’s different for shooting landscapes because you can just take the time to set up a few shots exactly the way you want them and you won’t have “missed anything” in that time, unlike photographing changing subjects (like people).

So, okay: I’ve finished taking the shots. I slip the memory card in the photo slot and download the files. Then I go through the photos one by one, and there’s usually only 1-4 shots that I like. Then I edit and voila! For this particular shoot, there were only 3 that I liked enough to bother editing, then after that, only 2 of them that I still liked.


Basically for this shoot:

  • took 53 pictures
  • edited 3
  • only liked 2

Which means less than 4% of the photos I actually took for this shot will ever end up being seen by people.

On average, I’d say that’s the usual per every 50 shots I take.

SO, when people comment on how great my pictures are and how awesome I look in them all the time and how impressive it is, I laugh because they don’t know how long it takes to get just one good shot and I had to go through dozens of pictures looking like the ones below before I got just one good one.


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I have reached a new level: Instagram

It all started with this photo.

I wear contacts. I lost a couple boxes of my contacts. I have avoided it as long as possible, but I am now out of contacts. Good thing I have this one pair of glasses.

I don’t usually wear glasses, I prefer to not wear glasses. They’re annoying and I like my sunglasses.

Now I don’t have a choice. …procrastination, children–this is where it gets you. I once went a whole month with glasses when I lived in California because of the same thing. I started dating a boy who only saw me with my glasses, so once I went back to normal, it freaked him out. My normal was his weird. …Weird.

On top of all this, it’s the first week of classes. Now everyone I meet is going to assume I always wear glasses and the day I show up without them, I guarantee at least a few people WON’T RECOGNIZE ME. It happens every time. I don’t know what it is, but for some reason, people really have a hard time recognizing people they don’t know very well if they go from glasses to non-glasses. I don’t understand it, but it’s going to be awkward to have people say, “oh, what’s you’re name?” and when I answer, they unfailingly go, “OH! I didn’t recognize you!”

“Yeah, it’s probably the glasses.”

“OH! Of course…that makes sense.”

Oh, does it? Please enlighten me.

So that happens.

I do like my glasses because the dark frames allow me to not have to worry as much about makeup, but if given a choice I will always opt for contacts.

So I took this photo on my way to class on Wednesday, because it’s rare that I wear my glasses, if you haven’t gathered. I was like, “AH! It’s not so bad! Maybe I’ll tweet about it.”

And then, something terrible happened. I couldn’t bring myself to post an unedited photo.

So I got Instagram.

HOW SAD IS THAT!? I only like you for your insta-filters, Instagram, but you know that, don’t you?! I think Instagram is like being flattered when your waiter shamelessly flirts with you: we all know it’s just to get a better tip, but we giggle and let ourselves feel special anyway. Every time I post a filtered-by-Instagram photo of myself, I’ll know deep down it’s to hide some level of insecurity. I’ll smile and be like “HEY, let’s pretend my skin really looked that clear today” –because Instagram is my flirty waiter and I like to feel special. OKAY? (Although if you look closely, you can sort of see the two pink dots on my cheek, as gifted by the lovely Lady of the Month.)

Funny how when I upload and meticulously edit all the photos I take on my digital SLR (in a sense, filtering them, just not at the push of a button like Instagram) it’s suddenly considered art…

Maybe editing through photoshop is like an off-the-clock waiter going out of his way to flirt with you: meaningful gratification.

That’s that! What’s your flirty waiter? Something you shamelessly do/accept when you know it’s really just kind of shallow? If you use Instagram, do you see it as your flirty waiter, or as something bigger and better that actually is meaningful? Let me know in the comments below!

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In-Depth Photo Editing Tutorial with Picasa and Gimp

Before and after editing! Keep reading for the tutorial. Remember, the software I use is free, so you can do this too!

A disclaimer: editing this photo only took me 15 minutes. Also, I don’t do this much editing with most of my photos. I do do this, however, when I take pictures of other people and for special occasions (bridals, etc.) I just don’t want everyone to think I edit all my photos to make myself look better. I don’t edit the vast majority of them this extensively. I just edit them to make them look professional or for tutorials.

For example, the Lipstick pictures on Wednesday were only edited for contrast (highlights and shadows), some eyeliner corrections and some lipstick corrections. Usually, I only fix the contrast.

Also, I’m not in love with the fact that the original is out there on the Internets. The things I do for science… ;D

Mmk. Carrying on…

Just click on the photos to see the gallery of how I edited this shot. Keep in mind that LESS is sometimes MORE. You still want to look like a person afterward, not a barbie! There’s a certain perfection in our imperfections.


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In the Mirror

“I don’t know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable.

“But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, ‘well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,’ that’s all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, ‘I’m sorry,’ and then you say to yourself, ‘I’m sorry.’

“If we all hold on to the mistake, we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can’t see what we’re capable of being.

“You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one’s own self.

“I think that young men and women are so caught by the way they see themselves. Now mind you. When a larger society sees them as unattractive, as threats, as too black or too white or too poor or too fat or too thin or too sexual or too asexual, that’s rough.

“But you can overcome that. The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don’t have that we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach.” – Maya Angelou

What’s looking you back in the mirror?? Take a picture and send it to me at and I’ll feature it on my blog next Tuesday. Be creative! Visit the Projects Tab at the top of the site to get the details!

Keep up-to-date on my new postings by following me on Twitter. You can also contact me through my website here, email me at, or send me a message to my Facebook. Thank you!

Photo Editing, Free Software

Keep scrolling to see descriptions on the two products I ues, Picasa and GIMP. Picasa: black and white, highlight and shadow for contrast. GIMP: brighten eyes, teeth, lips and jewelry, darken eye makeup and eyebrows, smooth skin. Also, this particular photo features the Hollywood False Lash kit from ELF!

I am all about photography, if anyone knows me. Unfortunately, I don’t own Photoshop and so have been using free software to edit my photos. Below are a few samples of the editing I’ve done. They’re all of me, since I didn’t want to show anyone else’s “before” photos because (as you’ll see) the post-processed photos look 1 million times better than the original. Enjoy and don’t make fun of me!

Before & After: Picasa: Increased highlights and shadows for contrast & teeth, added “glow” to brighten and remove imperfections on skin. GIMP: brightened eye whites, corrected the shapes on eye makeup, smoothed lips.
Before & After again. Picasa: black & white, increased highlights and shadows for contrast. GIMP: brightened eye whites, darkened eye makeup and hair, erased flyaway hair, got rid of ceiling. 
I really didn’t want to put this one on because the before is just…awful. Picasa: increased highlights and shadows. GIMP: Smoothed skin and lips for blemishes and unevenness, corrected shape on eye makeup, fixed messy hair, removed spots on camera, shaped eyebrows. WHEW!

Yuck yuck yuck. I hate that before picture soooo much. Fun-fact: the purple on my eyes was actually done with a flip chart marker. On to the software:

When I take pictures, the first place they go when I put the memory card in my computer is to Picasa. It’s from Google, so you definitely don’t have to worry about viruses or anything that could (or usually does come) from downloading free software.

You can click on this pic and the next to make them larger. I love Picasa because it really has most of the tools necessary to edit a photo. When I want to take it a step beyond and make changes to a picture as far as drawing on the photo (like highlighting and darkening by hand–i.e., whitening teeth, darkening eye makeup, brightening the whites of the eyes, etc.), I use GIMP. My dad recommended it to me, so it can also be trusted. He works in computer security.

I would highly recommend using these programs (especially Picasa) if you take photos at all, especially if it’s any sort of hobby or area of interest. It’s really necessary for photo editing to become more known to the masses, beyond just black & white or the one-click effects of Picnik. Don’t get me started on Picnik.

Sometime soon, I’ll post a portrait photography guide with things I’ve learned from taking photos since 2006. I actually created it last year for a communications project, but I’m wanting to redo all the photos I took (since they were of a person whom I no longer favor, shall we say).

Keep up-to-date on my new postings by following me on Twitter. You can also contact me through my website here, or send me a message to my Facebook. Thank you!

Photo Coloring

I love learning new tricks with photography! I don’t go looking for them, though, so when I find them, they’re even more of a treasure. When I’m at work and get tired of fbk and my other normal websites, I go to and it takes me to wonderful sites to help me pass time. Recently, I saw a tutorial on how to color black & white pictures. And I had time, so I wanted to try it.

So I used layers and airbrush and it wasn’t very hard!