If you're anything like me you probably have literally thousands of phone pics of your children and I'm sure, like me, you love every single one of them. I keep all these phone pics because they're electronic memories of moments I might not have captured otherwise. Nevertheless, I love the images I've taken with my 'big' camera so much more and a major reason for this is that I've been able to edit them exactly the way I want to.
Without going into too much technical detail, professional photographers shoot RAW images. These are huge files, rich with very detailed information about the colours and textures across every part of the image. RAW files are designed to be edited and require professional editing software to even open them. I could shoot JPEG files, which are smaller and would actually look better than the RAW image straight from the camera, but they'd lack the detail necessary to apply my own creativity and style through the editing process. A RAW image is like a chef having all the fresh ingredients they need to produce a delicious dish, exactly how they want it to taste, whereas a JPEG is like buying the same dish as a ready meal - you either like it or you don't. Aside from adding a bit of seasoning there's not much you can do to make it better!
A before and after...
Below is a photograph I took of my daughter looking out our dining room window, late afternoon on a rather dull winter's day. The first is the RAW image straight from the camera with no adjustments other than the crop. Although the image is exposed correctly and the focus in nice and sharp on her eyes, it's rather dull and there are a couple of distractions, such as the cord from the blind. The second is the edited version which I hope you'll agree is much more pleasing. The colours are warmer and brighter and I've been able to add contrast and clarity exactly where I want it. Using professional editing software means I was able to be selective in my adjustments - I could remove certain objects from the frame that weren't really adding to the story, or worse still, distracting from her face and reflection.