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Sunday 23 June 2013

Giving control to the clients: the editing process

You've been approached by a client. You've met with and hashed out the details of a shoot. You've shot amazing photos of the subject and now it's time to do some editing and wrestle with the age old question: what to keep, and what to discard?

In this new age of digital photography, there are some who firmly believe in setting the camera on auto  and firing away, relying on the law of averages to get some good shots.

But you call yourself a photographer, and when you're charging a client for your skills there'd better be more to it then that.

The last shoot I did was a family of three: mom, dad, and baby girl. In all honesty, there is no real way to screw that up. They were an extremely photogenic family, and they chose their nicely manicured backyard as the shoot location. I shot for about an hour, and ended with just under a hundred shots.

Then the real work starts: I returned home to do my editing.

First of all, I deleted any photos that were grossly out of focus, which brought me down about eighty shots. Not bad. After going through the remaining photos, I found myself with about thirty-five photos that I believe delivered the wow factor I'm looking for. Burn to disk. Deliver to client. Done!

Or so I thought.

During the shoot and just after, I showed a few of the shots to the clients on the camera LCD, just to give them a small taste and make sure I was still capturing in the style that they wanted. This is something I always do in shoots; clients are usually a bit apprehensive, and nobody is going to be as picky about their appearance as they are, so giving them a little taste is not a bad thing.

But with this particular shoot, my clients took that little taste a bit further. They remembered some of the shots I had shown them, which I was not happy enough with to include on the disk, and asked after them.

So we went through the rest of the photos together, I was stunned when they specifically requested copies of another twenty shots or so. Especially when dealing with a nine-month-old baby, there's always an element of surprise with candid shooting, and you can end up with some (shall we say) "unusual" facial expressions. These were shots that I took out, but when we went over the photos a second time, the parents thought that these expressions were natural and adorable. Even if they were kind of funny, they were shots the parents wanted to keep.

I've already talked about how it's important to keep your client in the loop when choosing the circumstances of a photo shoot, and this just goes to show how important it is to have the client's feedback. In the future, I'll try to include the client in the editing process as well. It's still important to go through and cut out any blurry or out-of-focus shots first, but when it comes to subject matter, who is the photographer to judge? Again, it's important to remember the client knows what they like; you only think you do.

Remember, as always, the client needs to be in charge -- especially with candid photography. This can be a hard place to work from, but clients are starting to look for an "interactive" experience with a photographer, instead of the traditional studio shoot. All too often you'll be the only one interacting with your photographs, and you won't always have the opportunity to ask your subject what they think of the final piece. When you can ask a second opinion, do so. Involving the client will end in a more relaxed atmosphere, better photographs and a completely customized experience for your client.

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