I often tell clients that they will receive fully edited images. But what does this actually mean? Well there is no short answer to this question. It can mean anything. Every photo is different and every photo requires something different in the editing process.
I start with the overall "look" of the photo. Usually I've managed to capture a good image in the camera, and sometimes I need to tweak things to make the image great. Often this has to do with the weather (especially recently) and occasionally it has to do with the environment (what is around us) and every so often it's to do with the subject themselves; children's faces aren't always completely clean!
In this example it was all about the weather:
The exposure was correct, but the day was very dull. I wanted to brighten the whole image and create a golden hour effect. In Lightroom I added a sun effect and used an oval warming filter to cover the bandstand and the girl. I also upped the contrast to make the reflection stand out more. In Photoshop I then added some sun rays and also removed some debris from the foreground that seemed to catch my eye.
I'm really happy with the result. The finished photo is, in recollection, more accurate a capture than the original. Sometimes you need to help the camera create lasting memories. It was a happy time, and the warmth of the finished photo captures that better than the coldness of the original.