Before I begin, let me add a little disclaimer about photography: everyone does it differently. There is no right and wrong way to edit a photo, although I beg to differ, because it all varies according to taste. The way I edit is specific to me and my business and each photographer does it a different way. With that being said, here's a little behind the scenes!
Ever since I picked up a camera for the first time, I wanted to capture the fun, colorful, and boldness in life. I love bright vivid colors but I love the way they look in nature. I don't want to over-do my contrast and saturation because reality doesn't look like that. When I edit my photos, I don't use presets or actions and some may raise an eyebrow at that. However, I truly want my photos to be as natural as possible. A clean but colorful edit is what I strive for every time.
As I mentioned before, every photographer is different, this includes me! However it's safe to say that there is one universal rule we all try to follow: get it right SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera). Photographers should always be wary of white balance, exposure, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and all of that at the same time throughout a shoot. It's taken me years and I'm still not getting it right 100% of the time but that's okay! Getting it right in-camera is super crucial to a great clean edit.
Above is an example of getting it right 'in-camera' and to some, it wouldn't need much editing, however I really wanted to blues of the sky and her dress to POP! and that required a little bit of post processing.
Here's a great example of how I really want my colors to just jump out at you. The photo on the left was the original and of course having a gorgeous location didn't hurt, but I wanted to lighten things up and really bring out the true colors of the ocean and sky. To some, these differences may not be all that drastic but they really make the difference to me and the way I view my work. So how do I do this? CURVES. It's all in the CURVES of a photo. If you're not editing with Lightroom or Photoshop then you probably have no clue what I'm talking about... if you are, get to know them very well. They can save you or break you.
For me personally, editing isn't about making the photo look better or making it appear to have some artistic look. For me, editing is about making what's in the photo appear just a little more beautiful than it already is. Again, this differs with everyone so please don't consider this an "standard" for everyone!