image editing process

My friend Tonya (and mother of three) asked me how I get my photographs of children so sharp and colorful, she was discouraged because her images weren't "popping" as much as mine do. She felt relieved after I admitted that much of it happens AFTER the photograph is taken (in Photoshop CS3). Taking the photograph is literally only half of the artistic process.
So, here is some insight about my photo editing. Take this image of Mr. T. The original image (right out of the camera) is on left. The image I provided to the parents is on the right. I have purchased some "actions" in photoshop that pump up the contrast, saturate the color, and correct the skin color.The image below left is "cross processed" meaning, it simulates the color and contrast of a polariod print. I love how 70's it is. And on the right is my version of a black & white image. It is grainy and looks like a print from a film camera.Here's a "cross processed" outdoor portrait example: (note the difference in the greens) spiked hairMost of the time, I only provide one version per photograph (if it feels like it should be black and white, or color, or crazy crossed processed, that is what I provide to the client.) These are my other favorites from my session with 9 month old Mr. & white portrait, babybaby boy portraitI love these two of Mr. T and his mom. Look how happy they both are. LOVE it.smiling