post processing (or pp'ing) refers to the steps you take once you uploaded your photos onto your computer. you might be thinking "what steps? i just print my photos!" if you would like to kick your photos up to the level of professional shots, or make them look more like portraits and less like snap shots, then post processing is a must.
i have included a couple of sets of shots here as an example of the importance of post processing. the first shot is what we call 'straight out of camera' (or 'sooc'). the second shot has been processed (by me!) in photoshop CS4. you can see quite clearly the difference that post processing makes.
if you have had a professional photo session with a photographer (me or someone else) you may wonder why the cost of prints is so much more than what you would pay if you went to your local walmart/big w. the reason is that you are paying for the expertise of that photographer to process the sooc shots and have them printed by reputable professional printer. if you take your sooc shots down to the local walmart/big w, the computers there will do some basic pp'ing, and they will be printed on photo paper, but i guarantee you that they will not look as fantastic as they would if you ordered your prints from your photographer!
(as an aside, i recently had some of my edited shots printed at one of those quick & cheap stores and i was not impressed with the quality at all - it is worth finding a professional printer in your town that you trust with your images!)
to give you an idea of some of the steps involved in pp'ing; this is what i do to every shot i edit:
-defog digital image & apply noiseware filter
-check/adjust white balance
-check/adjust highlights, midtones & shadows
-touch up skin, eyes, and and any clothing/background that isn't quite perfect
-convert photo to black & white or enhance/'pop' colour
-sharpen and crop for printing, keeping in mind rule-of-thirds and other compositional elements
so, you can rely on those computers at walmart/big w to do this all for you, or you can take your photographs to the next level and learn to do these steps yourself! stay tuned for some great tips to get you started.
of course, you always have the option of ordering your prints from me. remember, i can take your favorite digital photographs and turn them into something really special... =)