What’s the Difference Between Editing and Retouching?

What’s the Difference Between Editing and Retouching?

“Can you crop that in a little tighter?”

“My son has acne. You can retouch that, right?”

As a photographer, I’m always striving to capture moments where everyone looks their best. But in reality, all it takes is a slight breeze or distracted toddler to throw off the perfect shot. Thankfully, modern technology offers a variety of tools to bounce back from these fleeting moments, ensuring the memories you’re looking for me to capture are ones you can treasure for a lifetime.

But photography jargon can be confusing. If you have a specific request, what words should you use?

Editing and retouching are similar-yet-different tools I use to create the most visually captivating results for my clients:


This is a broad term encompassing various techniques to enhance digital images, inclusive of cropping, color correcting, adjustment of lighting/exposure and saturation. The goal is to improve an image’s overall look, making it as visually appealing as possible. Depending on the shoot, editing a photo can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes but can make an impressive impact. For example, in the shot below, you can see how I adjusted lighting, color correcting, and saturation:



Sometimes, basic editing is not enough. Retouching involves a more specialized technique, making more detailed adjustments such as enhancing specific areas or removing imperfections. This is the process I use when someone requests things such as brighter teeth or eyes, smoother skin tone, removed blemishes or the removal of distracting objects. Unlike the seconds it could take for a more standard edit, retouching can take 10 minutes or more, again depending on the task at hand. In the following shot, I’ve removed the flyaway hair in her face, as well as the blemishes.  I’ve also smoothed out the skin a bit, and brightened hair highlights, and eyes.  



Does either come with my shoot?

Yes! Standard editing always comes with your gallery – my job is to make those adjustments and I love using these tools to elevate our shoot. While it can vary, retouching most often will require additional costs. That said, if those enhancements make you happier with the overall result, it’s absolutely worth the time, effort and spend! Always happy to answer questions and talk through any feedback you may have.  Feel free to contact me at any time.

Quick Seasonal Photoshoots: A Mini Session Explained

Quick Seasonal Photoshoots: A Mini Session Explained

Mini sessions explained

A mini session is a quick session, which is a compressed version of a full session.  They are only offered twice a year and are scheduled back-to-back with other clients at a specific location and on a specific date.   They are scheduled this way to maximize time, which provides more people with my photography services. These sessions are usually 10-15 minutes in length and are offered as a package deal which includes digital prints.  Mine usually include about 5 images with an option to purchase more.

When are Mini Sessions available?

These sessions are available in the spring and fall only.  The spring sessions are shot during bluebonnet season.  I usually hold these sessions in April, but this year it looks like they are blooming early.  I am currently looking at locations and will probably set a date within the next few weeks.  If you are interested in learning more about that, drop me an email.  

I typically shoot the fall sessions around October and sometimes will include a holiday theme. However, this year I’m considering September and will likely shoot in a more natural setting.  To receive updates on any of my mini sessions, sign up for my newsletter.

How do Mini Sessions work?

I usually arrive at the location up to 15 minutes early to find an exact spot and prepare for the shoot.  Either an assistant or myself will meet you at a specific location which has been determined before the session.  Sometimes I know exactly where I’ll be ahead of time, which makes It easier.  

I set up the sessions back to back with about 5 minutes in between each session to allow a small amount of padding. However, it’s best to arrive early to allow more time in case you run into any traffic.  If clients are late, that cuts into their  session time because I have another client arriving right after and won’t be able to extend the time.  So far I’ve never had any issues with this because I like to prepare everyone in advance.

Who are Mini Sessions for?

Mini sessions allow clients to get a great selection of images in a short amount of time.  However, they are not for everyone.

Mini sessions are not for:

  • Clients looking for something more custom,  where you choose the date or location.
  • Clients looking for a variety of shots, including different group combinations.
  • Clients who are in a large group.  

Mini sessions are for:

  • Clients looking for just a few images.
  • People who are looking for a new photographer and would like to see how we work together.
  • Those who have small children who might not have the attention span for a longer shoot.
  • Families who are looking for a few different shots of just the kids.

If you do have small children and you’re not able to schedule one of my mini sessions during the year, I have created a short session of only 30 minutes.  

What is the difference between the short session and the mini session?

This has caused a little confusion in the past, but let me explain the difference.  

Differences between the short and the mini session:

  • The short session is a stand alone session that is custom like my full session, which means clients get to choose the location and date.  The mini session is scheduled by the photographer at a specific location and date with back to back clients.
  • Unlike the mini session, the short session is available any time throughout the year.  
  • The short session is not a package deal that includes any digital prints.
  • The mini session is as quick as 10-15 minutes long, where the short session is 30 minutes.

If you’re a larger family and looking for more variety and different background options, the full session would most likely be your best bet.

Hopefully that answers any questions you may have about mini sessions.  However, if you think of anything that I’ve missed in this article, feel free to contact me.  I’m always happy to answer questions!  To find out more about the other types of sessions I offer throughout the year, see my session info page.

What to Expect During Your Newborn Lifestyle Photo Session

What to Expect During Your Newborn Lifestyle Photo Session

What is a Lifestyle Newborn Photo Session?  Allow me to explain.  This is the type of session where I come to your home and capture your newborn in a natural setting, which includes interactions with the family.  I offer posing guidance that inspires natural interactions without looking staged.  So if you’re looking for a more minimalist approach that’s less posed and focuses more on connections, this is the shoot for you!  This does not mean that there won’t be shots of the infant alone.  It just means that those shots will not include props such as baskets or bowls.  I’m happy to use whatever is in their natural environment. I offer Lifestyle Newborn Photography in the Austin, Texas  area.  Occasionally I may offer these when I’m traveling to the Portland, Oregon area.

How to prepare for the session

Think about natural light.  We will not shoot in every room, so take note of which rooms have the best natural light at the time of day the shoot is taking place. Often the best rooms are the master bedroom, the nursery, or the living room. Tidying and organizing those rooms is certainly nice-to-have, but it by no means needs to be spotless.

Unsure how to dress?  I prefer that the baby is dressed simple and comfortable.  This includes onesies, swaddles or just a diaper.  I think simple and comfortable applies to you and your other family members as well.  Neutrals work really well, but feel free to add some color as long as it’s not conflicting with each other.  For tips, Check out my post on what to wear.

Don’t worry about trying to make sure the baby is comfortable and cooperative during the shoot.  They are unpredictable, which is why I have planned for enough time to allow for breaks, feedings, or diaper and outfit changes.

What a session looks like

When I arrive, we will talk about the lighting and check out the spaces together.

Next, I will talk to you about the shots we will be taking and then decide where to start.  There will be different combinations of shots, and depending on which package you choose, you will get more or less of them.  To see which combinations come with each package, check my lifestyle packages page.  To see some of these combinations, check out my gallery. Keep in mind that I am open to substituting shots if you have a preference.  Below is a list of every combination, which is included in the deluxe package:

  • Individual newborn
    Family with newborn
  • Siblings with newborn
  • Parents with newborn
  • Dad with newborn 
  • Mom with newborn

What happens after the shoot

I will edit all of the images in my style and provide a link to your online gallery within a week. I will be able to provide a more specific timeframe at the shoot.

At this point, depending on which package you choose, you will select which images you would like. After that, I will provide more edits if necessary and once that is completed, you will receive a dropbox link with all of your high resolution files for printing, all of the low resolution files for social media, along with your print release.  I include black and white versions of every image.  Then I will let you know how long it will take to receive your book or print.

If you are ready to book a newborn session or have questions about this type of session, please reach out to me. Make sure to check out my gallery for ideas and see my lifestyle packages page for pricing info.

Make Yourself at Home: Benefits of an In-Home Family Lifestyle Session

Make Yourself at Home: Benefits of an In-Home Family Lifestyle Session

In Home Lifestyle

Staged family photo sessions help document meaningful moments in time, with everyone put together and looking their best. But there is also beauty in the more casual moments of a family’s day-to-day interaction in the home, and that is just as worthy of capturing on camera. An in-home, family lifestyle session consists of images capturing family connections through guided direction. Focusing on candid moments rather than posed, these types of sessions uniquely convey a family story through the authenticity of everyday life.

A few things to keep in mind when considering this type of session:

The Perks of a Lifestyle Shoot

  • You’re never late! Leaving the house with kids is not always quick and easy, let alone for a more formal photo shoot. Me coming to you means no packing makeup, diapers or back-up outfits.
  • No need to weather the weather: air conditioning prevents any hot summer discomfort or grumpiness, and taking a “raincheck” is no longer necessary.
  • When everyone is comfortable, people are usually in better moods, and necessities such as bathrooms or snacks/water are not a worry.
  • Natural, authentic moments can sometimes be easier to capture when children are at home doing normal activities. Without the pressure of smiling and looking to camera, kids and adults alike can relax and truly be themselves.
  • Children inevitably grow up, and things may change around your house. This type of session is a great way to look back and remember these simple, beautiful, memories.

Pre-Shoot Prep

Whether I am taking photos for families or senior high schoolers, I like to prepare for the session.  I will often go through some of my favorite poses, and even look for new poses that I want to try with my clients.  Basically I’m creating a shot list and I usually vary the list between clients.  I read through their online form to learn about the family or person, which may help when deciding which poses to implement.  I’m not always committed to every pose, but doing the research ahead is extremely helpful considering the variety of tasks involved during a session.  Aside from directing my subjects, I must also think about camera settings, composition, details on the person, as well as details in the background.

Organizing and Sorting Images

Before we even meet, it is important for me to understand more about your family and goals for the session. My pre-shoot questionnaire will help me better understand key factors including ideal lighting, where around the home you’d like to set up or activities that could make for a good shot. Still stumped? Not to worry! I am also happy to provide a long list of ideas to get the creative juices flowing.

After you fill out the form, I may ask you additional questions via email to determine the best time of day to photograph. Often mornings before 11am work well, but we can find a time and date that works for us both. Keep in mind I try to allocate an hour and a half for this style shoot, with breaks factored in. With the format being everyone in their natural habitat, the hope is children are able to last a bit longer than your more formal, staged sessions.

Tips for a Successful Session

  • Communication is key. If there are specific “must have” activities and shots, definitely let me know. If there are any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.
  • Unsure of how to dress? Check out my post on what to wear…and what not to wear.
  • Ask yourself, “Which rooms work best?” We will not be shooting everywhere in the house, so take note of which rooms have the best natural lighting and can accommodate various activities. Tidying and organizing those rooms is certainly nice-to-have, but it by no means needs to be spotless. Dust thankfully doesn’t show up in photos!
  • Weather permitting, don’t feel limited to the indoors! Happy to take advantage of any yard space that makes for a good shoot location.

Think you and your family are ready to shake up your next photo session? Let’s talk! Check out my photo gallery for ideas, and take a look at my session info for pricing. Contact me here for booking or additional information on print and digital file pricing. Looking forward to working with you!

Behind the Shoot: My Photography Process

Behind the Shoot: My Photography Process

Austin Photographer Portraits

Most people know what occurs during a photography session, or at the very least it becomes clear once the session is complete.  But not everyone knows what a photographer does both before and after a session.  Recently I had a conversation with a friend about what my process looked like when people book a session with me.  She wanted to hear about all the details involved, and being on the consumer end, thought  it might be interesting for future clients to know what happens before and after the shoot.

Most photographers don’t just show up, take some photos, download the images, then send them out.  I may not be able to present every detail of the process for all photographers,  but what I can do is provide some information based on my experience as a lifestyle and portrait photographer.

Scouting for Photography Locations

If a client requests a specific photography location that is new to me,  I will usually travel to that place in advance so I can find the best possible spot to shoot at that time of day.  Lighting is an important factor in this process.  I find that scoping the scene out ahead of time is really key for being prepared, this way I can focus all of my energy into the shoot.  I also go out every so often just to find new places to shoot.  Being fairly new to Austin,  it’s been a fun way to explore and get to know the city. To learn more about locations in Austin, see my article about photo session spots.

Preparing for the Photoshoot

Whether I am taking photos for families or senior high schoolers, I like to prepare for the session.  I will often go through some of my favorite poses, and even look for new poses that I want to try with my clients.  Basically I’m creating a shot list and I usually vary the list between clients.  I read through their online form to learn about the family or person, which may help when deciding which poses to implement.  I’m not always committed to every pose, but doing the research ahead is extremely helpful considering the variety of tasks involved during a session.  Aside from directing my subjects, I must also think about camera settings, composition, details on the person, as well as details in the background.

Organizing and Sorting Images

The first step after downloading the images to my computer is called culling.  This is where I go through and narrow down which images to keep and which to get rid of.  This process can be time consuming for me because I try to narrow things down as much as possible to make things easier for the client.  I don’t want to overwhelm them with tons of images to look through when I post their gallery.  At the same time, I try to consider options the client might prefer, and not just what I like most.

Post Processing Images

The next step in my process is editing.  Back in the day, this was called “the dark room.”  When I worked in the darkroom, I had to expose light through the negative onto the print.  In doing so, I might expose more light to some areas of the image than others.  For example, a sky might need more light exposure in a sky to burn in the details of the clouds.  Or I may want less light exposed to darker parts of the image so shadowed areas still have detail, which is called dodging.  This process can be done from editing software in the modern world.   But that is not everything that can be done with editing software.  Aside from burning or dodging parts of the image, there are tools to adjust color, shadows, highlights, sharpness, saturation, etc.  Although there are some edits that can be done once the client has chosen their images, most of them need to be done just to present the gallery.  Because there are a significant amount of tools, I can spend quite some time on the images, especially since I’m a bit of a perfectionist.  I can easily spend a few hours and even more if I don’t stop myself.  It’s a struggle because it’s somewhat addictive for me considering I really enjoy this part of the process.

Export and Publish

After all of this, I then export all images and upload it all to a webpage.  I then need to make adjustments to some of the thumbnails for presentation purposes.  This is when I send the gallery to the clients for review.

Post Editing Selects

Once the client has gone through their gallery and selected the final images, I will sometimes perform a few more edits, such as taking people/things out of the background, or touching up blemishes on the face.  I then make copies of everything in black and white and again, need to adjust contrast, highlights and shadows.  Then everything gets exported out and the client will receive a dropbox link to download the images.

The goal for this post is to provide the client with an understanding of what I do as a photographer. Hopefully you now have a better understanding of what is included with your session fee!  And if you have any questions about my photography process, feel free to contact me.

Guide to Great Austin Photo Session Spots

Guide to Great Austin Photo Session Spots

 The Long Center for the Performing Arts

Finding the right location for photos can be tricky depending on the time of year.  The hardest time of year to find great backdrops for Austin are the winter months, when there are so many bare trees.

I took a little trip and went to visit some places that I thought still worked for winter.  Most of these were taken this February.  The are two exceptions.  The senior photos on South Congress were taken in September and because this is an urban location, it would also work well in the winter.  The other photos not taken in February are the family photos at Butler Park, which were taken in December.   Additionally, all of these locations would be great during spring, summer and fall months. See my photos and descriptions below for examples of what each location has to offer.


The Seaholm District was once an industrial section of downtown Austin.  This has gone under an extensive transformation, which is currently a mixed-use urban neighborhood.   This area includes the Library, the Butterfly Bridge, Shoal Creek and the Seaholm Power Plant. I captured photos at the Butterfly Bridge (by Shoal Creek) and down by the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail that is along Lady Bird Lake.


This is both a pedestrian and cyclist bridge which overlooks Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin, connecting north and south sides.  It features a “double-curve” design. This connects Seaholm District to Butler Metro Park and can be a great place to stop and get a photo if you’re walking from one place to the other.


This park runs between Riverside Drive and Barton Springs Road, and between South First and South Lamar.  This area has beautiful backdrops of the Austin skyline.


The Long Center is a venue located on Butler Park, which is along Lady Bird Lake.  This is a great place for photography not only for its great skyline views, but the design of the building is stunning with it’s glass structure, circular “ring-beam” and aluminum paneled roof.

The photo at the top of this article was also taken at the Long Center.

Fun fact: During the renovation, 95% of the material from the Palmer Auditorium was recycled and incorporated into the first phase of the Long Center.

These first four spots are technically close enough and within walking distance to include in an hour long session.  However, this all depends on how much time is spent at each location.


This district features hip boutiques, restaurants and trendy hotels.  There’s plenty of options that make for fun backdrops in a photo session.  When planning a shoot here, it’s probably best to avoid busy times, such as Friday/Saturday late afternoon to early evenings.  This is the only location where my photos were taken in the summer.


Located just 20 minutes Northwest of downtown Austin, Bull Creek offers a variety of backdrops, including a running creek, hiking trail, rock formations and lots of trees.

I am hoping that this article will be helpful when planning a photo session.  Contact me to book a session.